Feature Stories

Minnewashta Fifth Graders Participate in March Madness Poetry Bracket

The month of March often means March Madness for basketball fans. However, this month students at Minnewashta Elementary celebrated the bracket-based competition through a more poetic lens.

All of the students in 5th grade at Minnewashta participated in this Poetry: March Madness event every morning for the few weeks it took to go through the entire bracket. Starting with 16 poems of different genres, styles and eras, the students voted each day for which poems they believed were best. Using 5th grade learning standards as a basis, the students used a rubric including the meaning, language, structure and mood of the poem as a guide for their votes every day.

Not only did the students figure out their votes individually, but they also engaged in many conversations with their classmates that revolved around which poems they liked the best and why. 

“As we continued with this a few rounds, we started noticing students were showing up at the bracket each morning to see which poem won and conversing about it with their friends,” said Kirsten Pederson, one of the teachers who organized the Poetry: March Madness activity. “They were debating why they thought the results were accurate or not with each other. Affirming our efforts, we were hearing students using language from the rubrics in their discussions, so it was clear that they were internalizing those concepts.”

From analyzing the poems through a very literary perspective, to admiring them through an emotional perspective, the students were able to experience poetry in a new way.

“This unit provided additional practice to our students,” continued Pederson. “We're excited about how engaged students have been when interacting with this ongoing, live-event learning experience. Teachers were able to have meaningful conversations with students about the impact of a poem, how it touches your heart, and how you can't measure that on a rubric. Additionally, we saw students voluntarily looking for the themes of the poems on their own, which was truly a special thing to witness.”

In the last round, the two final poems were “Dear Basketball,” written by Kobe Bryant and “The Dash,” written by Linda Ellis. In accordance with the origins of March Madness, the poem that won in the end was “Dear Basketball” by Kobe Bryant!

Over the course of the month, students have been able to practice their poetry analysis, as well as find a personal interest in the world and depth of poetry. This fascinating take on March Madness brought joy and learning to the 5th graders of Minnewashta!

Poetry Bracket

Girls smiling

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