#MMPoetry2013: Calling All Classrooms!

One of the most fun parts of the build-up to March Madness Poetry 2013 is taking the extra time to savor the words that I read and hear every day. Five to ten times per day, a word splatters across my windshield — commanding my immediate attention and action. Sometimes, I spray the cleaner and wipe it away, but more often than not I stop the car, get out, and take a closer look:

I have an incentive to do this. The more words that I consider, the better prompts I can give during the March Madness Poetry tournament, and the more fun the event will be.

But I’ve been thinking … maybe there’s a way to allow other people to share in the exploration of words the same way I’ve been able to leading up to #MMPoetry. More specifically, maybe there’s a way to allow KIDS to share in the exploration of words in a new, fun way.

With that in mind, I am pleased to offer the following challenge to teachers and students who may not themselves be poets (yet), but who want to participate directly in #MMPoetry in some way:

IF your classroom plans to follow #MMPoetry2013 and is willing to help spread the word about the event in your own unique way,
THEN I will grant your classroom the power to choose any word you want to be assigned to an #MMPoetry authlete in the first round of this year’s tournament! The more innovative your idea, the crazier the word your classroom will be allowed to pick. For example:

  • You tell me your class will create a hand-made poster and hang it in the hallway of your school to attract other classes to follow the event? That might earn you the right to pick a word in the 3-5 seed range (think “mangled”, “boiling”, “numb”).
  • You tell me your class will create a human pyramid that spells out the word P-O-E-T-R-Y, snap a photo, and send it to your local paper or TV station? That might earn you the right to pick a word in the 8-10 seed range (think “rancid”, “grapple”, “sequester”).
  • You tell me your class will paint a series of giant murals on the side of the school that highlight your favorite matchup in each round, where pairs of students take turns tending to it around the clock, repainting it with up-to-the-minute vote totals and then power-washing it all away as soon as the clock strikes zero? That might earn you the right to pick a word in the 14-16 range (think “befuddling”, “virtuoso”, “androgynous”).

Maybe I’m crazy, but I think that’s a great way to get kids to think more about the wonder that is our English language.

There are 64 spots open for the taking. First come, first served!

Instructions (NOTE: These have been edited since the original post.)

1) Talk to your class about #MMPoetry2013 in general and this post in particular.

2) Decide what you’d all be willing to do to help spread the word about the event. (Sorta like those old “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” commercials.) Whatever you decide will determine the level of difficulty of the word you can select. Submit a comment below with your school name, grade level, city/state (and country if outside the U.S.), AND your idea.

3) Decide what one word you’d MOST like me to assign to an authlete during the first round of this year’s event. The difficulty of your word should be commensurate with the impact/creativity of your idea. Generally speaking:

  • If your idea involves your classroom alone, you can suggest a 1-4 seed word (something interesting, but pretty INTUITIVE for kids’ poetry)
  • If your idea involves your entire school, you can suggest a 5-8 seed word (something kinda tough, but REASONABLE for kids’ poetry)
  • If your idea involves friends and relatives outside your school, you can suggest a 9-12 seed word (something ODD for kids’ poetry)
  • If your idea involves your community or the general public, you can suggest a 13-16 seed word (something SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE for kids’ poetry)

After you submit a comment below with your idea, send me an e-mail (see form on right sidebar) or PRIVATE message through the Ed at Think Kid Think Facebook page with your chosen word.

4) I will send you a private confirmation. While I do not plan to enforce the guidelines in Step 3 too strictly, I will provide some coaching if I feel that your suggested word is inappropriate (e.g., too difficult — “antidisestablishmentarianism”, too easy — “park”, too gross — “cloaca”, too topical — “photosynthesis”).

That’s it. Have fun! And help spread the word to other teachers/librarians/students ASAP before it’s too late …


School Grade Location Leader Word Seed Range
STAR Prep Academy 6th Culver City, CA Hannah Wilde (Teacher) 13-16 (Seemingly Impossible)


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  • Pamela

    What a wonderful idea!

  • Melinda Harvey

    Where does your creativity stop?!? I love this idea! I will begin brainstorming with my fourth graders on Monday! I can’t wait to have a shot at this! (Is it a conflict of interest to promote the event AND participate?). When do we find out which applIcations have been accepted?

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com Ed DeCaria

      No conflict. I’ll make sure you don’t get your own class’ word!

  • Hannah Ruth Wilde

    Ed, I am in with my class! (Working on my poem for admission to the contest as a poet.) I have 8 kids, 6th grade, a small preparatory middle/high school for gifted children. They will eat this up! Very very cool idea!

  • Hannah Ruth Wilde

    I will ask them on Monday for a word. STAR Prep Academy, Culver City.

  • Hannah Ruth Wilde

    Hi Ed,
    My class, known here as Miss Wilde’s 6th Grade English Class, has submitted a secret word for use in one of the challenges! We will be following every school day and voting as a class! It will be so fun to see what authors can do with unusual words. We might even try a poem or two and share with the general audience!

    Meanwhile, TEACHERS AND LIBRARIANS!, check it out!

    We can’t wait,
    Hannah Wilde

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com Ed DeCaria

      Alright! “Miss Wilde” has finally pushed this boulder forward …

      Since the STAR Prep Academy 6th grade class from Culver City was the FIRST classroom to join this particular phase of 2013’s madness, and that alone will hopefully help spread the word of #MMPoetry to more classrooms, they got to pick as difficult of a word as they wanted. AUTHLETE ADVISORY WARNING: Watch out! Kids might assign even crazier words than me.

      So that’s 1 down, 63 first round words left to choose. Okay, teachers and students, WHO’S NEXT?

      NOTE: I’ve add more detailed instructions to the main post above to better facilitate this process.

  • http://blogs.neisd.net/ikistl Irene Kistler

    We made a video today to advertise your poetry tournament. It’s posted on our blog:


    We hope to choose a word for your tournament.

    Irene Kistler

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com Ed DeCaria

      OMG. A March Madness Poetry CHEER — I love it!

      Send me an e-mail or Facebook private message with any word you want. Take a look at last year’s scoreboard to get a feel for the type of words that I assigned last year, which for the most part worked well. Words that are intriguing and/or playful, yet challenging, are best.

      Thank you, “Mrs. Kistler and the 49’ers” (3rd grade class from San Antonio, TX)! I hope you had fun. I am smiling so wide my cheekbones hurt.


  • http://blogs.neisd.net/ikistl/ Irene Kistler

    We hope your cheekbones feel better, but we are glad we made you smile so immensely! We are going to choose our word wisely. Thank you for hosting the #MMPoetry2013 tournament. May the best authlete win!
    Mrs. Kistler and the 49’ers