I first saw something like this about 16 years ago when I was a new teacher. I was observing in another teacher’s classroom. He was obsessed with football, so he’d put together this elaborate math unit tracking football stats and scores. (I imagine that his students have since grown up to be master fantasy football players.)

I can’t remember the teacher’s name now, but I’m pretty sure I first got this activity from him. He gave me a copy of a copy of a copy that was really hard to read. (Remember those days?)

So the first thing that I did was re-type it, making a few changes to the clues. Over the years since I’ve made more changes based on student suggestions and to keep up with changes in the NFL teams. I’ve long since lost the original, but I think only 3-4 of the original clues remain anyway.

I love this activity because it gives my sports kids a way to shine in class that they don’t always get. I’ve used it most often in reading, sometimes including a recent newspaper article about the upcoming SuperBowl (which typically includes the names of several teams – clues for those who aren’t as familiar with the NFL.)

I also really like that the clues hit on a bunch of topics: literature, science, history… so other kids can show off what they know as well. The activity works best when the whole class works together.

Often kids will ask if they can pull up a list of teams on the computer, which I let them do if they think of it. Knowing how to find information is a skill they need to practice too!

It’s a lot of fun and has always gone over well.





Football Critical Thinking Activity

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