March Mammal Madness

Have you heard? Are your kids involved? Do you do March Mammal Madness?

If you are not, that’s OK, I wasn’t either until this year. I found out about March Mammal Madness through a facebook group for teachers I follow that is full of crazy awesome science ideas.  March Mammal Madness, or MMM2019 for short, pits animal against animal in a “who would win” theoretical situation. The results combine careful research by university professors, and weighted probability with a dice roll to keep things random.

You can read up about past years and the ideas behind the bracket here:

Personally, for maximum involvement, I’ve assigned each student in our middle school an animal. They will prepare a 1-minute presentation to convince their peers that their animal should win and then we will follow along, cheering for the animals as they win and crying for those who lose.

Right now, as kids research their animals, they are devoted, excited and happy. There is friendly “smack talk” about whos animal will beat which other animals in the room. It’s a perfect end to our classes before the break starts and it is channelling their energy into something productive.

In March, once we return from break, I expect this to take a few minutes each day out of our class time, but I expect the knowledge of animals and habitats to increase, that we will have a moment to bond over our shared desire to see a particular animal win and I expect for the kids to have a lot of fun.  I’m looking forward to it, and perhaps you will be too once you look into it.

What fun things do you do in your classes that add value and allow you the opportunity to create and develop relationships with your students?


Candy & Innovation

This week, another teacher and I hosted a think tank of sorts modelled off the cohort21 conferences. We started the day with this projected on the board, the Rocky theme song playing as kids entered the room and small candy dishes on each of the tables. There was group work, brainstorming, timers, action plans, ideation, challenges, idea switches, and of course high-level productivity.

Early this fall, we introduced a new internal innovation challenge called the Heads Cup to our students. Any student can participate so long as they present their innovation to a panel of judges later this month. We knew the students were making progress but wanted to really give them time to be creative, have teacher resources available and really push them to the next level with their innovation.

I am happy to report that the sugar bursts as we became brain tired, the excitement when things worked out, the happiness for other teams and the whole group working together to make each presentation the best it could be was amazing. It gave me all the good feelings – the ones you have when you are at F2F with the cohort21. The energy was amazing. The kids were mentally exhausted in a really good way – they were energized about their ideas but needed some time to digest what was happening and how far they had come in one day.

We are going to meet with the kids for an hour next week to run through their presentations again, just before the big reveal and I could not be prouder of how far the kids have come along in terms of exploring their innovation and its impact to society.

I know we are really focused on our own action plans, but being a part of the cohort experience and realizing how awesome it is to focus in on something with no distractions, sugar and positive attitudes gave me the ideal model to use when facilitating this workshop and for that, I would like to thank #cohort21 and the awesome people who make it happen.