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January 31, 2012 Super Bowl Mania — Creating Cross-Curricular Lessons That Score Big By Addie Albano
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    For sports enthusiasts, this is one of the most exciting and highly anticipated times of the year. The Super Bowl is a football fan's dream, especially if your favorite team is fortunate enough to be playing in it. (Go, Patriots!) Who doesn’t love a good story of the underdog, someone overcoming the odds to achieve the greatest glory? This main event represents the realization of lifelong hopes and dreams, with each participant giving it their all under the lights for one magical night.

    However, the Super Bowl can be a highly teachable moment within our classrooms as well. Sports are such a huge part of many of my students' lives, and I try to bring as much of what they are passionate about into my teaching as possible. I also discovered that the subject of football can carry over into every subject. This is actually one of my favorite units to teach, football nut that I am, and the kids look forward to it for months.

    Several years ago I visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame Web site and saw that it had a special section just for educators. Below you will find my favorite cross-curricular lessons, modified to meet my individual students' needs. Each section includes specific objectives, methods, procedures, materials needed, and an assessment tool. You will find that they can be used as part of a month-long package of lessons or as an extension activity to a thematic unit. Either way, your class will appreciate the opportunity to learn about real-life skills while having fun in the process. Let the games begin!


    Dollars and Cents at the Concession Stand


    In this lesson, students will utilize the statistics of NFL players and teams to compute math problems. They'll also develop their money skills by learning how to make change. Assign to small groups either of the teams represented in the Super Bowl. Pass out large sheets of poster paper and have students create a menu board of popular items found at their featured stadium's concession stand. Hand out play money to one group, and a “register” to the other where change is to be made. Assess students on participation and accuracy. You may also ask them to find the mean, median, and mode for the prices represented or to create a graph to show the number of points averaged per game. Advanced learners can compare team and individual player statistics in order to determine probability.



    Football Chain Story


    The goal of this lesson is to create a group narrative while determining the author’s purpose. In pairs or small groups, pass out a photograph of an interesting football scene or situation taken from a news article. Have the students study it carefully and then create a story to match it. Each student is limited to only a few lines of text, and then they must pass it along to their partner to finish.


    Assess students on spelling and grammar, creativity, and ability to work within a small group. To make this task more challenging, tape the real story to the back of the picture and give points to whomever follows the original story line most closely.





    NFL Team Location


    This lesson presents the perfect opportunity for students to brush up on their geography skills. Pass out a U.S. map to each student, along with a list of all AFC and NFC football teams for them to locate and label. Students should also include a key of their findings. Maps should show at least the states with the most NFL representation and those without any. To increase the level of difficulty, impose a time limit and give extra credit for those who use their team colors when labeling.




    In the News


    As a group, brainstorm a list of current sports-related science topics, such as the increase in the number of concussions and related injuries reported in the current issue of Scholastic Science World magazine. Then have students come up with key points, a summary, connection to text, and personal opinions in the form of a “quick draw.” Assessment can focus upon the accuracy of their summaries, and how well a student was able to synthesize information from the text.

    Popular cultural events, such as the Super Bowl, are wonderful opportunities to connect with your students for many reasons. Among other things,it helps you form a terrific dialogue and allows your class to view you as a person who has interests outside of teaching. Create a “team color” or jersey day to add to the excitement!

    Are there any upcoming events you plan on using as a teaching tool? I would love to hear about them!



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Susan Cheyney