If you are from the Northeastern United States, last night was probably pretty exciting. You may be aware that on Sunday, 1/21/2018, the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles battled two incredibly strong NFL teams and arose victorious; capturing the titles of AFC and NFC champions (respectively) and transforming their dreams of attending this year's Super Bowl into a reality.
In Philadelphia, celebrations received national attention, even before they began. Police, fire, and paramedic teams were on high alert, dispersed throughout the city to deal with raucous revelers. Teams of city workers were instructed to coat light poles with Crisco-brand shortening, to inhibit climbing. The workers referred to themselves as Crisco Cops, with an all-too-obvious trending hashtag: #CriscoCops.
Now I don't bring up the game to brag about the Eagles, my hometown team, nor to insult the Vikings or their fans. Instead, I bring up the game to discuss the topic of "shared experiences."
Whether we choose to follow football or not, as educators we cannot avoid the limitless opportunities a shared experience, like a playoff or championship game, brings to our classrooms.
From graphing wins and losses to calculating probability, math lessons can be enriched with a simple nod to this, or virtually any, sport.
In ELA, students can explore tone, structure, audience, as it relates to advertising. They can dive deep into controversies surrounding the marketing of potentially unhealthy products to younger viewers.
Students can draw similarities between current sports and ancient ones or determine what forces are acting on a football, or a player, during a game. They can also be challenged to create their own music or artwork to communicate a particular feeling or emotion, on the field.
We have limitless ways to embrace shared experiences and a countless number of shared experiences we can leverage in our classrooms, with or without professional sports.
And if you can't come up with a shared experience to use in your classroom, find a way to create your own.
In his book, Teach Like a Pirate, Dave Burgess poses the questions, "Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets to?" These lessons include Dave's complete transformation of his classroom into a speakeasy—including a secret password to enter class—which, ultimately, helped his students learn about prohibition.
With a little bit of creativity and planning, we can create shared experiences students will remember for years, even decades. But you have to ask yourself the ultimate question: Would you want to be a student in your own classroom? If the answer is no, pick up Teach Like a Pirate and reach out for support and suggestions.
“At some point in your career you have to decide if you care more about teaching to tests or teaching kids. My decision was made a long time ago. I teach kids.”—Dave Burgess
Orr, Conor. “Against the Odds, Eagles Are Going to Super Bowl LII.” SI.com, www.si.com/nfl/2018/01/22/eagles-vikings-nfc-championship-super-bowl-52.
P.S. Go Eagles!