Let Your Students Shoot Some Hoops

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

What does today mean to you? In the US, today is a holiday with mixed emotions. Somber memorial services recognize the sacrifices of war; cookouts and pool openings celebrate the start of summer. In other parts of the world today is “just another school day,” the last Monday in the month of May.

Well, in the US and in other communities worldwide where adults and kids love to shoot some hoops and follow pro basketball, today begins the regional finals in the National Basketball Association’s (NBA in the US) playoffs.

No wonder fans love to watch the play! Team names alone generate excitement; the Boston Celtics face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference while the San Antonio Spurs challenge the Oklahoma City Thunder in the West. Even if you’re not a huge fan, action-packed basketball games catch a channel-surfing TV viewer’s attention, no question, if only for a moment.

Why not capitalize on the magnetic force of this sport by letting your students shoot some hoops in class! You can even give your class team a memorable name. Check out my blog pic below and you’ll see some kids watching my imaginary shot to the net as they hear a free-verse poem I’ve written about basketball.

“She shoots…she SCORES!”

The poem best suits students in grades 3 – 5 because of the vocabulary; I’ve included my poem below in case you’d like to use it as I do to introduce a writing activity focused on sports. I wrote the poem in a style that helps students understand the impact that sound words have on effective writing and the importance of including action words that suit the subject.

The BUZZ in Basketball

It’s a game of buzzers, basketball;

BUZZ starts the game, BUZZ deals players on and off the court,

their feet running, arms waving, hands blocking;

their coaches calling plays.

BUZZ signals time-outs, a failed allioop flying out-of-bounds, a foul,

the ref’s nod for a shot from the free throw line.

BUZZ marks half-time, an empty court;

Fans share popcorn, chili dogs, soft drinks and gossip.

BUZZ ushers in the second half of high hopes for higher scores;

hear the cheers for a cross court pass, a long throw –

awesome – check the sweet sound, “swish,” as the ball drops

in the basket; more points light up the board.

“Hurry Showboat, get the ball!” yells a fan from the stands…

seven seconds to go…he scores!

“YES!” screams the winning team;

“YES!” scream the winning fans,

hardly hearing the final BUZZ in the basketball game.

How can you help K – 5 kids win academically by letting them shoot some hoops in class?  My blog pic here offers one answer: Give Math a Shot! SCORE BIG!

Correct answers to math questions score a shot at the basket.

Set up a small net and play a simple math game where students who offer correct answers to problems you pose get to shoot a small basketball. If they make the shot they get to pose the next math problem. It’s a little like the US game of round robin, but the focus is on reinforcing math skills, building kids’ confidence and ability to think and act quickly.

Inexpensive sets of small nets with soft basketballs like you see here are available in dollar stores and toy stores, and not just during basketball season. I recommend setting up your basketball net on an as-needed basis, not as a permanent fixture in your classroom. Otherwise the game may lose its magical power to catch and keep kids’ attention.

Encouraging your students to be “HOT SHOT KIDS” like you see in my blog pic below has applications in all subject areas.

Hot Shot Kids focus on getting good work done.

Let kids take turns shooting some hoops, for example, to loosen up for a spelling test. You get the last shot, though, and when you make the basket, it’s reminder time for your students to re-focus on test-taking. Tell your class that you’re looking for “hot shot spellers.”

Shoot Some Hoops for Service – If you and your class plan to team up to raise money for a special cause or collect donations to give to a family in need in your school or community, you can set aside some time for students to shoot hoops and keep score in a way that connects with the service project. For example, you can group kids into teams and ask everyone to bring small coins to school. When a member of a team makes a basket, another team member drops a coin into a collection basket.

Parents might like to team up with your Shoot Some Hoops Service Project. You’ll need to set up a simple system for collecting donations based on how well your students shoot hoops. You’ll serve as the team “manager,” tracking students’ scores to insure honesty in the fundraising. You’ll of course also need to set up the distance your students are required to stand from the net to shoot based on their grade level and ability.

Connecting learning with the opportunity to have some fun with a small-scale basketball game in class is a proven incentive for K – 5 kids. This indoor attention-getting trick works in any season, rain or shine. You may even find that your most reluctant learners jump at the chance to shoot some hoops – becoming more engaged in learning as they score.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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