Picture Book Tournament

After seeing the idea of holding a picture book tournament during my travels around the internet, I knew this was something I wanted to try with my students.  You can see some other blog posts about it at: http://literacylove.com/2014/01/29/engaging-readers-with-a-picture-book-study-tournament/ and at: http://www.byrdseed.com/academic-march-madness/

First, I had to collect the picture books.  Fortunately, I have a LARGE collection of my own (can we say I have a problem?).  I sorted through the books I have and pulled out the best examples.  I tried to make sure I had a variety of genre and authors.  I also tried to have multiple books from the same authors, so they could compare.  Believe it or not, I ended up with 32 titles!    Image

Next, I decided what reading strategies I wanted my students to practice as we went through this tournament.  Since it’s a review week in Reading Street, the primary strategies the book has them reviewing are “Author’s Purpose” and “Cause and Effect”.  I created a worksheet for them to fill out which would help them analyze the books they read.  Not wanting to have them get bogged down in the worksheet, I limited it to three books.  They’ll be reading many more, but will only fill out the boxes for three.


I also had to find a bracket to use – enter the internet!  There’s a great site which allows you to create a printable bracket with as many teams as you like: http://www.printyourbrackets.com/fillable-24-team-single-elimination.html

Deciding 20 books would be a reasonable number to use, I made a bracket with 20 slots.  Image

As I explained the tournament, I brought in quite a bit of real world knowledge, since most of the kids didn’t know much about how March Madness basketball works.  We talked about rankings, seeds and byes.  Between the picture books and the sports analogies, I had most of my kids hooked.  They were champing at the bit, ready to start reading.

Once I handed out the books, there was a short amount of conversation as they exclaimed over some of the books, then, silence reigned.  I didn’t have to tell them to be quiet or to read – they just did!  For an hour!

They also did an amazing job on the analysis worksheet.  I never told them what sort of quality I was looking for, but they gave it to me and then some!  The answers they wrote down were well written, carefully thought out and very complete.  I was blown away by their work.

At the end of the hour, they filled out their top ten on the ranking paper.DSCN6747

After school, I sat down with their rankings and started figuring out which books made the tournament and how high to seed them.  After some consideration, I decided to just list the votes on a blank sheet and see where it took me (it basically ended up making a stem and leaf plot of the data). When I was finished, it was clear which books were the top seeds.  I crossed out the 12 books with the lowest number/ranking of votes and started filling in the brackets.  Interestingly, several books didn’t make it at all in one class, but had strong showing in the other.

Day 2, I helped the students fill in their brackets, which led to a discussion of choosing basketball brackets based on the color of the uniform or the cuteness of the mascot.  Since they weren’t necessarily familiar with all the books, they had to use some other method to choose.  We then did a mini review about cause and effect.  Today’s task involved filling out a paper with three cause/effect situations in one of the books.  They desperately wanted to read all the books that made it into the tournament, so, once again, it was silent in my room.

At the end of the hour, we started our voting.  I am lucky enough to have clickers, so they used the clickers and voted true for one book, or false for the other.  As I announced the winner in each match up, cheers would go up.  At one point, one of the students commented “Well, my bracket is shot.”

I’ve been updating the posters on the wall outside my door and it’s been interesting seeing boys study it carefully and discuss which one they would choose in the matches.

DSCN6743I would definitely do this again.  The students have been very excited to discuss the books, and are reading more than I’ve seen them read in a while.  Unfortunately, time kept it fairly short this time.  I would prefer to have more time for debating the books before we vote, but I only ended up with 3 days to complete the tournament, although I was able to use 90 minutes each of those three days, which helped.  Even with a shortened time frame, it was well worth it!

Have you used tournament style bracket lessons before?  What do you do?


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