History Concepts: Basketball Tournament Style

History tournament season has arrived! Let the games begin!

Celebrate the famous basketball tournament held every March with this fun history game: Tournament of Technology!

Use in world history, European history, or US history classes and get students talking about and arguing about technology throughout history.

Create an actual tournament bracket and put the prompts up in random order. Split students into teams or small groups and let them argue it out. Is fire a greater technology than printing press? Students need to consider the contributions to civilization and how the technology may have led to an even greater discovery/invention.

A Four Day Lesson Plan

As you move through the tournament, it will take less and less time. Day one will be a full day of activity. Day three will take minutes to complete – stretching it longer will require a writing assignment.

Day One: Have the tournament set up already. Shuffle the prompts and set them up like a basketball tournament board – two prompts per “bracket”, four pairs per side.

The black lines I have created were made with electrical tape. You could use washi tape, duct tape, or if you use a whiteboard just draw the lines on the board.

I personally prefer to debate out loud but maybe your students need some writing practice. This is your judgement call about what is best for your class. Debate as a whole group. Split students into groups to debate each bracket. There is a lot of flexibility in how you actually use this resource.

After an appropriate amount of time for your students (every class is different) switch it up! Have students debate different prompts with each other. Switch the numbers around if you are using numbers. Continue this process for a bit.

The last debate is a whole group. They’ve had the opportunity to debate some, many, or all of the prompts. See if you can get the class to come to a consensus for each prompt. Record their final answers for day two.

If you use this lesson for multiple classes keep a list of each class. It is easy to switch around for each period.

Day Two: The winning prompts from day two should be paired together and debated the exact same way as day one. This day will take less time than yesterday but you could conceivably use the entire class period for this activity.

One way to stretch the time if necessary is to share the results from other classes. Get students talking about why they agree or disagree. Forming an opinion is actually one of the historical thinking skills, an underrated skill in history classes generally, and is a way to get students thinking in more advanced ways about the material.

Day Three: Same as day two. Day three will not take the entire class period.

If you need it to and you haven’t already, get students writing. Have them write out their opinions. Practice thesis statements. Write a series of short answers. Whatever you need to do. Or use this more like bellwork.

Day Four: The Finals

Now that your students have had a few days of this activity, they are well prepared to write. This is where I would assign a written component. Debate as a whole class. Get as many students talking as you can about the pros and cons of which is best/greatest.

In the end, make them write an essay about it. Have them practice thesis statements if that is something they need to be able to do. (Writing prompts are not included)

Want to play it again? Great. The prompts will always be different. The discussion and debate will always be different. This can be a great activity to use when administration comes calling or for substitutes who you know will control the class.

Want to complete this in one day?

Not a problem! It actually has a different feel when you move through quickly. Just discuss a bit less and don’t write as much and you will have no problem completing this in one day.

Like the concept? Take a look at my Tournament of the Arts and Tournament of the Arts: Asian Edition. Both of these have a quick-look research component since students may be unfamiliar with the art. Conduct in-class, cell phone research or really delve into the prompts and allow your students to spend time learning about the prompts. No way is the wrong way as long as they are learning.

Ready to purchase? Click the image to see the resource in my TpT store.

Like this idea but need something for virtual school? Try World History Activity: Top 25 Inventions and Discoveries.


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