Friday, February 8, 2013

Hoop Genius and Trashket Ball

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball
John Coy, author
Joe Morse, illustrator
Lerner Books, 2013

Teachers are under-rated. If you've never been in charge of the education of a group of squirrely youngsters during the month of February, then you have NO idea of the level of inventiveness going on in the classroom. I'm not surprised in the least that a gym teacher invented one of America's favorite sports! Nor that it was with his students' help and based on a childhood game he seemed to have invented with his neighbors.

Hoop Genius is a terrific read, especially if you have young basketball fans in your home (as I do!). What makes this a strong informational picture book?
*Vibrant, active illustrations--Morse packs this book with energy in art form
*An insight into the origins of sports: all sports we play today were invented at some point--and many are no doubt based on the games children invent and creative adults recreate
*Some things never change: a group of bored students is always a party waiting to happen (whether that party is on their terms or the teacher's!)
*the mash-up of text and pictures works quite well in this book

Look for Hoop Genius on shelves come March 1. In the meantime, you might consider playing "Trashket Ball" in your classroom or in your home as a review game. This is a game my students taught me when I taught high school English.

Group Play:
Two teams. Teacher asks a player on each team in turn a review question. If the student answers correctly, his or her team gets a point. If they answer correctly, they also get the chance to shoot the "ball" (a wadded up piece of paper) into the "basket" (trash can works nicely) for an extra point. I need hardly tell you the motivation this gave some of my students to work hard at the review game.

Small Group/Individual Play:
At home with just one or two students? Teams are not necessary. Score each child as an individual and ask whatever level questions each child needs (this allows you to mix and match grade/ability levels). A laundry basket and nerf ball work just as well as wadded up paper and a trash can!

Enjoy! And share with us some of YOUR favorite February games and activities!

Book from Lerner Press via Netgalley (thanks!); cover image from goodreads.

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