I lost a friend recently.
I don’t know what type.
I am not sure that it matters and even though I hadn’t seen him for perhaps 4 years – it upset me.
Paul was not an especially close friend, but someone I held a close affection for and some for whom I had a lot of time. One of those friends who I would see for maybe 3-4 months a year and then not at all for the other 8-9.
He and I played cricket together for the local village team until the club folded. He had played for the club for over 25 years, despite having to travel from Sheffield to Lincoln every weekend of the season. It was just what he did, because he loved to do it. We couldn’t get people to walk across the road to the playing field on a Sunday afternoon, but Paul would be there. Larger than life, the wrong side of a 40 mile drive.
When I say larger than life I do mean it. Paul was 5’10” and 26st. One of the gruffest, most uncouth, foul mouthed and delightful Yorkshireman anyone could wish to meet.
I realise that this is an education blog so allow me to explain why I am writing this tribute to Paul here. He was not a teacher, not professionally, not conventionally. He was not a man who would grace a classroom (for long), but he could teach and did every time he took the field.
Everyone knew Paul, literally everyone. He had been around for so long, played everywhere, talked to anyone, had a beer with whoever. We were just glad that he was on our team. Bright red football socks over his whites (which were rarely white), fluorescent pink jockstrap (enough said really), false teeth, floppy red hat, 4 1/2lb of Willow (the biggest and heaviest bat any one had ever seen!) and the unerring skill to batter 4s and 6s for fun, even though he was never a fan of a quick single (unless to steal the strike for the next over). Something Paul taught you very quickly was ‘don’t run, there’s no point, I won’t be’. He made damn sure you could count to 6.
He also taught you not to judge a book by its cover. Paul was an expert bowler, not a ‘pie-chucker’ as his build suggested but a skilled swing, seam and spin bowler who could ‘think’ a batsman out better than anyone I ever played with or against. He could also week in and out, bowl 10 overs straight through, I couldn’t run in for more than 3 without needing medical assistance. Yet there he was, all 26st, ball after ball, giving away little and always near the top of the averages and leading wicket takers.
While this may prove to be a short post – there is a point.
I am no talented cricketer, I have ‘all the gear and no idea’, but by playing the game with Paul, I learned plenty and many more would say the same thing.
He believed in the spirit of the game, that it should be played fairly and no matter win, lose or draw, as long as everyone could say ‘they did their best’, he was happy. If you couldn’t say that, he would tell you why you didn’t and how you should have – and you’d listen. Because it was Paul.
People respected him for the fact that he did it his way and if you didn’t like it, tough, it was his way, you didn’t have to like it.
One of the finest lessons he ever taught me (and this is where I will conclude this eulogy) was when he once berated a team mate who was shouting at a young lad who had mis-fielded a simple ball and allowed a boundary from his bowling.
Paul ‘explained’ that there was no point in that action, it didn’t help. The lad knew he had messed up, he didn’t do it on purpose and he wouldn’t be trying to repeat the mistake – in fact why get cross at all? He was doing enough telling off of himself in his own head – why not say something nice to make him feel better?
Oh, and don’t bowl another sh*t ball like that, that gets hit over there!
1964 – 2014
Rest in Peace Bash
A lot of people miss you.
I leave this here for you to look at and consider.
I wonder what you think…
I was part of a Twitter chat recently that was looking at way to teach/encourage reading.
Several ideas came up:
- Extreme Reading,
- Read Around the World,
- Reading Races and so on.
It reminded me of this:
I first came across the Crazy Professor Reading Game (Chris Biffle), when I was trying out some Power Teaching ideas in 2008-09.
If you haven’t come across Power Teaching it is a Elementary School teaching style from America relies heavily on Learning Styles.
(Please don’t hit me! **Ducking for cover**)
Look up Chris Biffle and Chris Rekstad.
I tried it out a few times and did have some success with it. Children certainly enjoyed it and they did want to play.
I was thinking about giving it another go.
I am not sure I would use the format used by Rekstad in the video, but I would go along with the core principles.
The 4 Stages of the Crazy Professor Game
Read your text using as much expression as is possible
Read again using lots of expression and physical gesture
Teach Your Neighbour – Summarise your reading to your partner, show you understand what you have read.
Crazy Professor vs Eager Student: The ‘professor’ gives an excitable summary, being expressive and asking the ‘student’ questions. Meanwhile, the ‘student’ listens attentively, answers the questions and encourages the ‘professor’ to give more and more feedback.
I can see how this might aid children’s comprehension skills
I can see how the use of expression and gesture might encourage enjoyment
I can see how the paired feedback and questioning would support mutual understanding of the text
I can see how this might be one way of teaching a whole class reading session.
It allows for differentiation of text to higher and lower levels
It would allow the teacher to join in and work with whichever group of children were the focus for that session.
It would quickly show those children who might need help, or are being passive.
How sustainable would playing the game be?
Could it lead to genuine and significant progress in children’s reading?
Would this just lead to children shouting out stories?
One to try in the new term perhaps.
Could be great for reading comics, including speech which might then lead to drama and performance.
I really would like your thoughts to be added to the comments section:
Pros and Cons of the Crazy Professor Game.
If it was that awesome wouldn’t we all be doing it?
Again, this is not originally my idea but I have adapted it from an email I received years ago from Classroom Power.
It’s a fun one and I thought I would share!
In addition to Memory Football, I suggest you try Beach Ball Baffler as a reward that children work for.
All you’ll need is a beach ball or Balloon (Balloon Baffler).
Here’s how to play:
- Throw the ball toward the class. One (or more people) bounce it into the air.
- While the ball is in the air, ask a short question, “What is 4 times 4?”, or “What is the capital of Brazil?” … any question you wish (It can be helpful to have a list in front of you so you don’t have to think them up)
- The class must answer the question in chorus before the ball comes down.
- Then the ball is batted into the air again by the next person … you ask another question … and so forth.
- The goal is to see how many times the ball can be batted into the air before either the ball hits the ground or a fair number of the class aren’t answering or are giving a wrong answer.
To increase the tension:
The class only gets three tries (their goal is to break their previous best class record)
Increase the difficulty and interest in the game by posing harder questions
Wait until the ball is drifting down before posing a question (and thus your students have a shorter time to answer)
Have half the class volley the ball to the other half of the class, etc.
Introduce the idea of levels and keep making the game harder and harder.
Beach Ball Baffler could last for months!
One final note:
If anyone complains about anything, your score keeping, a classmate’s failure to hit the ball, anything … it automatically reduces the number of hits earned.
So, for example, the class kept the ball in the air for 10 hits … but Rick complained about Dale’s miss-hit, Carl said that Maggie never answers a question and Carole complained that the ref, you, weren’t throwing the ball properly… those three complaints reduce the score to 7 …”
This one can be a lot of fun.
It can be use effectively in nearly any subject area, with any age group and can be a great way to reinforce learning, vocabulary or key points of a lesson.
For additional change ups you might substitute a large balloon if you are in a smaller or younger classroom
Make sure you have spares for either a balloon or a beach ball!
This is a really quick simple game that makes for a good plenary activity, mini-plenary to re-invigorate if needed, or for a maths starter game. Practicing multiplication tables… you can come up with many uses I am sure!
It is so easy that children could run it themselves, or even as a small group task with a balloon.
So, there you are ‘Beach Ball Baffler’.
There are lots of crossover rules with Memory Football too.
Adapt it and make it fit your own purpose!
Not originally my idea but I have adapted it from an email I received years ago from Classroom Power.
It’s great fun and as it is rather topical, seems a good time to share!
This game can be used at any level and you can use ‘Memory Football’ to recap any subject material.
Your class will love the game so much that you could even use it as a reward for good behaviour.
Like football, Memory Football is played between two teams.
The purpose of the game is to score goals.
Goals are scored by quickly answering questions posed by the referee.
Rules: There is only one rule in Memory Football. Keep The Referee Happy. You’re the Referee!
An IWB or Wipe Board, a marker and a set of short answer, often one word, review questions that you have created. You will be reading the questions from this list; arrange them in groups from easiest to hardest.
The Set Up:
Draw a horizontal line, near the bottom of your board. Mark off the line in 11 equidistant vertical marks. The horizontal line stands for a soccer field; each end of the line is the goal; the vertical marks divide the pitch into units.
Place a marker under the vertical mark in the middle of the field. The marker is the ball.
(This could easily be created in SMART or any presentation software.)
How To Play:
Divide the class into two teams.
(We’ll use boys against girls, but it could be right side of the class against left side, etc.)
Each team chooses the other team’s captain.
To start the game, the captains stand face to face at the front of the room. You pose one of your review questions and, just as in “Family Fortunes”, the captains slap their hands down on a desk as quickly as possible if they know the answer.
The captain who is quickest, gets the chance to answer.
If they are right, his/her team gets the ball. Otherwise, the opposing team’s captain gets the ball.
Assume the girls’ team wins control. Picking one player at a time, ask review questions to the girls’ team.
If the player’s answer is correct, loud, fast and with an energetic gesture, that counts as a “strong kick.” Advance the ball, the marker, almost a full hash mark down the pitch toward the boys’ goal.
If the answer is correct but too quiet or slow or doesn’t have an energetic gesture, then that is a “weak kick.” Advance the ball a short distance toward the boys’ goal. If the girls’ answer is wrong, shout “Possession Lost!” and now the boys’ team gets a chance to play.
If you like a rowdy classroom, encourage teams to cheer when the ball is going their direction and groan when it isn’t. Thus, every time the ball moves, you’ll have cheering and groaning.
Use the following to add excitement to Memory Football:
Whenever you, the Referee, want to reverse the direction of the game, shout “Tackle!” This means the other team has suddenly gotten control of the ball. Of course, you will shout “Tackle!” whenever you want to generate an intense amount of excitement … like when one team is very close to the goal and just about to score.
Whenever one team or the other misbehaves in the slightest, complains about the ref’s call, anything, you shout “Foul!” As the Ref, you then have three choices. You can award control of the ball to the opposing team; you can move the ball up or down the field, penalizing one team or the other; or, most exciting, you can declare a Penalty Kick.
(Encourage teams to cheer or groan as appropriate.)
Move the ball to the first mark in front of the opposition’s goal. The attacking team chooses a kicker, usually the team captain. The defending team chooses a goalie, usually the team captain. Goalie and kicker face off in front of the room, like the initial kickoff. You ask a question; the player who slaps a hand down first gets first try at the question. If the goalie is first and correct, the penalty kick is blocked. If the goalie is wrong, the penalty kick scores. If the captain is first and correct, the penalty kick scores. If the captain is first and wrong, the penalty kick is blocked.
If a goal is scored, the scoring team shouts “Gooooooaaaaalll!!!” like Andres Cantor, the famous Mexican announcer.
Often in football, neither team is in control of the ball.
When you shout “Free Kick!”, anyone on either team can answer.
Fire questions at your students; when one side gets several questions in a row correct, point at them and say, “You won the Free Kick!”
Then start giving questions to individual players on the winning team.
Read The Ref’s Mind Free Kick!
For hilarious excitement, say, “I’m thinking of a key concept we covered. Free Kick! Read my mind!” Both teams shout answers at you, energetically covering enormous quantities of revision material … give them hints as you wish.
Award control of the ball to the team that reads your mind, or, failing that, that has the most attempts at reading your mind.
You will use an enormous number of review questions in Memory Football; thus, it is important to have a list so you can keep the game moving along quickly.
You can use any question, addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, national capitals, key concepts from science, names of characters in stories, anything.
Keep the ball moving up and down the field.
Make the game as exciting as you wish by shouting Tackle!, Penalty Kick!, Free Kick! or Read The Ref’s Mind Free Kick!.
Never let one team get more than one goal ahead of the other.
Give the weakest players easier questions; stronger players get harder questions. If you like award answers that are particularly good, or where a child does particularly well a “very strong kick.”
Play for only a minute or two every few days.
Make your class work hard to earn the right to play Memory Football.
If you use it infrequently and briefly, the game will be a tremendous motivator for positive in-class behaviour.
Think about that.
Your class is working as hard as possible to earn the right to revise what you have wanted them to learn!
It is a simple game, good for plenaries and intermediary times like lining up.
Easy to adapt and change around for different outcomes.
Hope it’s useful.