Our second annual March Madness Nonfiction Picture Book tournament was quite an anticipated event at Williams Elementary School. When students returned from February vacation, they quickly noticed that our 2017 March Madness book bracket had been posted on the bulletin board in our entry way. We kicked off this year's event with a school wide assembly announcing the sixteen outstanding picture books in this year's bracket. Teachers held copies of the sixteen books in our tournament as we separated them into brackets in the corners of our gymnasium. After the assembly, the kids were ready to READ!
During the month of March, our fourteen classroom teachers read aloud a nonfiction picture book each day. After hearing each book pairing, students voted to move their favorite book to the next round. Many students shared that the voting was difficult this year because the books were so awesome!
After a month of reading and voting, students selected Anything But Ordinary Addie and Pink is for Blobfish as the finalists. On Wednesday, March 29, students and staff filled the gymnasium of WES excited for the announcement of our March Madness champion!
Of course a March Madness assembly wouldn't be complete without a light show and basketball themed music! Thankfully, I work with two creative colleagues (Jason Pellerin and Amanda Levesque) who coordinate the lights and music. Jason is a varsity boys' basketball coach (and a March Madness basketball fan), so he continues to the be the perfect master of ceremonies as he masterfully energizes the crowd.
We started by announcing the 14 picture books that were part of the original bracket. Each class selected a student representative who marched in our parade of books in front of the school. Jason announced each title and author while the students cheered for their favorite titles from the tournament. After the parade, we announced each finalist. Fourth grade teacher, Sydney Langis dressed as Adeline Herman from Anything But Ordinary Addie. She even performed a magic trick for the crowd!
One of our third grade classes dressed as the creatures in Pink is for Blobfish, which was adorable!
Now it was time for the moment we were all waiting for... the announcement of our 2017 Nonfiction March Madness Champion. As a special way to reveal the winner this year, one of our teachers enlarged a copy of the book cover for us. We covered it in black butcher paper to build the anticipation! With a spotlight shining on us and the entire school counting down, Valerie and I prepared to rip the paper to reveal...
Pink is for Blobfish ~ The Williams Elementary School 2017 March Madness Champion!
I contacted Jess Keating a few days before the event letting her know that her book was selected as the winner of our reading tournament. She graciously sent us this special message and a picture of Blobby, which we shared with the entire school. The kids felt so special to hear from the author!
March Madness has unified our entire school community around a love a books and reading. The best part of this project for me is watching students in front of the March Madness bulletin board discussing their favorite books. I've even witnessed a heated conversation between a group of fifth graders about why certain books were contenders! There is nothing better than being stopped in the hall or on the playground by a student just to let me know which book they voted for and why.
The day after our assembly I received this e-mail from a parent, which perfectly captures our goal for the March Madness book tournament:
I also wanted to mention that J- has been so excited about all the books you have read during March Madness, and yesterday's assembly took the cake for him. He specifically asked me to pick him up from school yesterday so that he could show me the bulletin board in the lobby dedicated to the winners of your March Madness books. He has been rooting for Pink is for Blobfish, and when that was revealed the winner, his excitement for school was so apparent! I love that you bring the school together to celebrate reading and school spirit! J- REALLY was proud yesterday and that brings so much joy to me as his mother! Mostly, thank you for making reading fun, memorable, and meaningful!!
To see our school as a community of readers excited about nonfiction is a true gift.
We are already collecting outstanding titles from 2017 as contenders in next year's reading tournament. Here are a few of our top picks so far!
We are already excited for next year's event!