Last year, I wrote a blog post about this amazing program.March Book Madness is a reading program where 16 books compete against each other in bracket fashion, similar to the basketball March Madness. It is single game elimination. Students vote online with other students around the world. http://marchbookmadness.weebly.com/
Titles come out in Octoberish. I start gathering, begging, borrowing and not quite stealing all the titles. I read every single book; all the picture and all the middle grade books. This year, I did not know about many of the titles so that was exciting! In order to spark the enthusiasm in my readers, I need to be enthusiastic myself. It is not hard. The books are amazing.
In grade three, with my variety of readers, I make it mandatory that every student read every picture book. The middle grade books are optional, however, this year, I read 4 aloud to my class. However, if my students decide to read a middle grade book, I have read it so I can be there to help assist in comprehension if needed.
This year, for the first time, I decided not to put out two of the middle grade books, feeling they were maybe just a tad too mature for my young learners. I also purposely read aloud Orphan Island due to a part I actually skipped (I have never done that before in a read aloud either).
I introduced the books on January 3rd and students began reading them. On February 14th, we watched as the brackets were decided and immediately realized this was going to be tough. Voting began, I believe, March 8th. Students used the google form to vote with children around the world. On Wednesdays, the next round was announced. Students couldn’t wait to see if their book made it to the next round or not. Shrieks of delight or groans could be heard on Wednesday mornings as I announced the next round.
Today, we found out who made the championship game. There were lots of groans as the favorite, It’s Not Jack In the Beanstalk didn’t make it. That was definitely a class favorite. The students loved the sass. The book is hysterical and a must read! However, many students are excited by Shark Lady (a nonfiction book) has also made it to the finals.
In the middle grade category, I had read aloud Restart and the students loved it. However, it is going against Refugee. I had not read aloud that book, but students who read it absolutely loved it! Both books are absolutely brilliant. Reading 2017 Is a blog in which I discuss both books.
Today, I had student led conferences. Many students shared their personal brackets with their parents. With pride, they told their parents how they read all 16 picture books and which one was the best and why.
It has been said that reading is one of the most important factors in school success. This program keeps reading exciting and fabulous. Students felt like they were part of a club and they wanted to discuss books and how they voted. Some are trying to read all of the March Madness middle grade books. A couple students have ventured off to last years list. There is a new energy surrounding reading and it is contagious.
This program has also helped in other ways. Students did not know about brackets, so we learned about them. We have also used Kidblog (a blogging program for kids) to write our opinions and share with the class. We have used Padlet to connect with a middle school friend and her class in upstate New York. Thank you Mrs. Grose’s class.
I love this program and I am eternally grateful to the organizers of it! (Tony Keefer and Scott Jones). Here’s to next Wednesday and the final decision!