Tag Archives: Sports Literacy

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

sportsThis week in the United States, Major League Baseball holds their All-Star game. Harness students’ interest in sports and incorporate them into the classroom!

Developing Contemporary Literacies through Sports: A Guide for the English Classroom shares meaningful and productive ways to engage students in reading, writing, and other literacy practices. It’s a collection of lessons and commentaries–from established teachers, teacher educators, scholars, and authors–and its companion website provide numerous resources that support teachers in developing students’ contemporary literacies through sports.

Tune in to this podcast episode to hear about works of sports fiction and nonfiction that explore issues of identity and belonging, courage and equal rights, and changes over time in American history and culture.

We’ve all heard the expression “poetry in motion”. This activity gets children writing poems about grace and movement using photos of athletes.

In “Swish! Pow! Whack! Teaching Onomatopoeia Through Sports Poetry” students explore poetry about sports, looking closely at the use of onomatopoeia. After viewing a segment of a sporting event, students create their own onomatopoeic sports poems.

Through the retelling of the 1941 baseball season, children will see two legendary players as characters in “Batter Up! Telling Sports Stories With Trading Cards” and can create trading cards that highlight these players.

Invite students to look at different online baseball trivia questions to see how they are written. Then, as part of this activity, have children write their own questions and play a trivia game.

How do you incorporate sports into the literacy classroom?

Honoring Students’ Interests in Sports to Support Literacy Learning, Part II

This post (the second of two parts) is written by member Alan Brown. Luke Rodesiler wrote the first part. 

revised-alan-brown-photo-for-publicationThere is an unfair perception about reading that abounds from many corners of the universe, and it’s one I encountered frequently during my youth. It is the notion of reading as a passive, feminine activity, particularly when contrasted with activities that are often considered more active and masculine, such as playing sports. The end result is the boy crisis we hear about so often not only in schools but also in the media, as described by Watson, Kehler, and Martino in their commentary “The Problem of Boys’ Literacy Underachievement: Raising Some Questions.”

Examples and discussions of masculinity in sports are not hard to find. One discussion I found particularly interesting involved Brendan Dwyer, a researcher in the field of sport administration, who was quoted in a recent article about fantasy baseball by Nadia Kounang as saying, “Sports in general has been a space for men to communicate . . . and now fantasy sports is an enhanced version of that . . . . I like to equate it to the male version of a book club.” For English teachers with a passion for inference, we understand the implications of this suggestion: fantasy sports are for boys, and book clubs are for girls.

Robert Lipsyte refers to divisive sporting environments that separate students from athletes and readers from so-called nonreaders as being overtly influenced by jock culture. So it’s refreshing to learn about Andrew Luck’s book club as a high-profile method for connecting adolescents, sports, and literature, and I am always excited to see award-winning children’s and young adult authors such as Matt de la Peña emphasize sports as an entry point to literature.

Years ago I created a sports literacy blog for students, teachers, librarians, and parents to help them connect sports and young adult literature. What was missing, at least for me, was the opportunity to put these resources into practice. As a result, I started my first after-school sports literacy program at a local high school in 2013. Years later, I have just begun my first middle-grades sports literacy program at a school with dedicated teachers and administrators trying desperately to decrease the reading proficiency achievement gap in their school.

This program is grounded in sociocultural theory in that students develop literacy skills while engaging in activities related to their personal, everyday interests. The program’s motto is simple: sports talk, free snacks, good books. Through social activities and sports-related young adult literature, students have an opportunity to explore the world around them, including academic objectives and social pressures that are part of the transition to high school. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Thursday afternoon.

If you are interested in learning more about meaningful and productive ways to engage students in reading, writing, and other literacy practices, I hope you will consider picking up a copy of NCTE’s new release Developing Contemporary Literacies through Sports: A Guide for the English Classroom, which I coedited with my colleague Luke Rodesiler. This edited book includes contributions and sample lesson plans from experienced English teachers, teacher educators, scholars, and young adult authors from across the country.

You may also want to mark your calendars for Thursday, February 23, when Luke and I will host a live Web seminar exploring critical literacy at the intersections of sport and society. The seminar, which begins at 4:30 p.m. (EST), is free to NCTE members.

Thanks for taking the time to read these blog posts, and we hope you will consider, if you haven’t already, honoring students’ interests in sports to support literacy learning.

Layout 1Alan Brown is an assistant professor of English education at Wake Forest University. Along with Luke Rodesiler, he is the coeditor of Developing Contemporary Literacies through Sports: A Guide for the English Classroom, a new release from NCTE. Luke and Alan are co-chairs of the Featured Session: G.01: The Intersection of Literacy, Sports, Culture and Society. 

Honoring Students’ Interests in Sports to Support Literacy Learning, Part I

This post is  written by member Luke Rodesiler. This is the first of two parts. 

luke-rodesilerIn a Nike commercial shot in the early ’90s, professional basketball player Charles Barkley famously declared, “I am not a role model.” As one might expect, Barkley’s declaration was met with resistance. Writing for Sports Illustrated, fellow basketball star Karl Malone explained, “We don’t choose to be role models, we are chosen. Our only choice is whether to be a good role model or a bad one.”

The idea of athletes serving as role models sticks with me after all these years because, as I think about honoring students’ interests in sports to support literacy learning, I see opportunities for teachers to leverage the literacy practices modeled by today’s top athletes. Undoubtedly, there’s great value in the book talks and recommendations teachers offer students; I don’t mean to discount those. But perhaps the sports fanatics in your classroom would also find interest in books recommended by their favorite athletes, role models such students might choose for themselves. Or maybe some reluctant readers in your classroom might be moved to read articles written by their favorite players. With those possibilities in mind, here are some resources to consider:

  • In April, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck launched the Andrew Luck Book Club, “a forum for a book-reading community to grow through the love of reading.” Luck introduces two books at a time—one for “Rookies” (i.e., less experienced readers) and one for “Veterans” (i.e., more experienced readers)—inviting folks to read and post thoughts through various social media outlets with the #ALBOOKCLUB hashtag. Currently, rookies are invited to read Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie, and veterans are invited to read Charrière’s Papillon.
  • Peter King’s weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” column published on The MMQB features a section titled “On Your Night Table,” which offers a glimpse into the reading lives of those involved in professional football. King highlights book recommendations from those around the game, and recent suggestions have come from Baltimore Ravens receiver Steve Smith (Brett’s God Never Blinks: 50 Life Lessons for Life’s Little Detours), Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn (Kerr’s Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us about the Business of Life), and Minnesota Vikings punter Jeff Locke (Huff’s How to Lie with Statistics).
  • Beyond book recommendations, teachers eager to promote recreational reading habits can share with sports-minded students pieces generated by professional and amateur athletes. Though questions about the role of ghostwriters linger, The Players’ Tribune presents reflections, narratives, essays, and more attributed to athletes across the sports world. Similarly, The MMQB publishes a column titled “Behind the Face Mask,” which features first-person accounts from players, coaches, and others involved in professional football.

Like Malone, I question Barkley’s contention. I believe professional athletes can be role models; those who share their reading lives and publish their writing on the Web stand to help adolescents see how reading and writing can enrich their lives too.

In Part II tomorrow, my colleague Alan Brown will address connections between sports and adolescent male readers, an after-school program he’s launching to support literacy learning, and our new publication from NCTE, which encourages teachers to consider sports as an academic topic worthy of exploration in the secondary English language arts classroom.

Layout 1Luke Rodesiler is an assistant professor of secondary education at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Along with Alan Brown, he is the coeditor of Developing Contemporary Literacies through Sports: A Guide for the English Classroom, a new release from NCTE. Luke and Alan are co-chairs of the Featured Session: G.01: The Intersection of Literacy, Sports, Culture and Society.