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The 2011 Basketball Draft Lottery & Neurofibromatosis

Living in South Florida, basketball has been a hot topic this year.  The formation of the ‘dream team’ including Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh has definitely created a stir.  While many eyes are still on the finals and who will win the championship, this week the basketball Draft Lottery was conducted.   The Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost Lebron James as their star player this year, definitely came out on top in the draft.  They now have the first and fourth selections in the 2011 draft this summer that can allow them to pick 2 top players to help rebuild their team.

basketball

The interesting point, which connects this post to education and special needs students  is that the individual who made the pick which allows the team to select the first player in the draft was the Cleveland Cavaliers  owner’s son , and good luck charm, Nick Gilbert.  Nick is 14 years old and became a celebrity overnight.  He was dressed to impress and has had many complements on his throw-back glasses and bow tie.  The unique thing about Nick is that he has a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis.  His popularity from this event will hopefully raise awareness about the disorder in hopes for a possible cure.

Neurofibromatosis

Neurofibromatosis, or NF, is a genetic disorder that caused the growth of tumors on nerve tissue.    The tumors can cause various problems with the skin, skeletal system, and other neurological problems.  The severity of the disorder can vary.  NF is also commonly linked with other learning disabilities, epilepsy and leukemia.  There is no cure for NF.  Therapy is done to reduce the number of tumors and surgery can remove the tumors, however more tumors will grow back.  If the tumors are cancerous, then chemotherapy is administered.  The Neurofibromatosis Association is hopeful that there will be a cure within the next 5-10 years.

Nick has had brain surgery and chemotherapy to help him to manage with the tumors and secondary complications related to NF.  Nick has also lost vision in one of his eyes.  Despite his health issues, he is a very optimistic and energetic boy.

Nick is also the ambassador for the Children’s Tumor Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports research and awareness of NF.  With his exposure on the Draft Lottery, I hope that Nick will be a great ambassador to encourage others to support the research of NF through various fundraising activities.  May is NF Awareness Month and May 17th is also World NF Awareness Day.  In conjunction with these events, during the Draft Lottery, Nick tweeted, offered special prizes, and encouraged participates to text in a donation to help support the Children’s Tumor Foundation matching all of the funds raised.

NF & School

NF can be very difficult for children in the classroom, especially if the tumors are large and in places that other students can notice like the face, neck, and arms.  Some of the most well-known cases of NF are stories that have been aired on television involving teenagers who have tumors on their faces and then undergo surgery to remove the tumor.

Students with NF can struggle mastering material, have difficulty with penmanship, and language delays among social concerns and issues.  Like with most disabilities, early intervention, building a good relationship between the teacher and the child and family, and understanding how the disorder will affect the child’s education are very important.

Links for Learning about & Teaching Students with NF

  1. Children’s Tumor Foundation
  2. Preparing Teachers to teach a student with NF
  3. Brochure including helpful facts and figures about NF

Article By Laura Ketcham

Picture By hitthatswitch

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Connecting Concepts through High-Interest Topics: March Madness

Teaching challenging concepts by using high-interest and timely topics helps students to make connections and increase comprehension.  World and national events like a presidential inauguration, the soccer World Cup, the Olympics, shuttle launches, and large sporting events can be used in teaching lessons including  math, science, social studies, and language arts.

basketball

One event coming up that many students will follow is March Madness.  March Madness refers to the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament of the top 64 Division 1 teams.  March Madness is also called “The Big Dance.”  It is a single elimination tournament.  The winner of each game moves on to the next round until the top team emerges as the winner.

The Bracket:  Conducting Research & Making Predictions

One of the most popular activities associated with March Madness is the filling out of “the bracket.”  The bracket is a tree-graph that is filled-in with predictions of game face-offs based on university regions and expected winners.  This is an activity that students can do that actually has connections in the classroom.  Students can fill out the bracket with the teams that they think will win each game, which teams will face-off against each other, and end with their guess for the final two teams and the ultimate winner.  Students should develop their predictions by researching team statistics, ranks, standings, and divisions using online websites or by reading sports journals or newspapers.  University websites, along with ESPN, are also appropriate student resources for conducting this research.

Getting other teachers, classes, and even the administrators involved in creating and sharing their bracket predictions make the lesson even more meaningful.

The Bracket:  Math & Geography Connections

Teachers can tie in connections with math and geography using this bracket.  Students can be asked questions that involve percentages and fractions.  For example, what is the likelihood that a certain team will make it into the finals?  What percentage of teams a student chose won during a certain bracket?  What is the reduced fraction of number of teams that are in the final 16?  As the games progress, students should make updates to their brackets.  Additional lessons based on this can also include who had the most winning teams.

As students follow the games and find the winners and losers, geography connections can be made by having students take the teams in the bracket and locate the universities on a map.  An extension can be made where students would have to conduct research about one of the universities or the cities in which schools are located.

Incorporating topics that students love while teaching the curriculum is a great way to motivate students.  Highly engaging activities ‘trick’ students into mastering the learning outcomes that are desired.  March Madness is a great way to make math and geography connections based on a high-interest subject.

More lessons based on March Madness:

1.       Creative Parents March Madness Lesson

2.       March Madness Project

3.       Time out for March Madness

Article By Laura Ketcham

Picture By Erik Charlton

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Understanding the Plays – Interpreters for Students who are Deaf

A California high school is bringing a new aspect into their sports department.

taft high school

At Taft High School, in Woodlands Hills, sign language interpreters are being provided for the students who are deaf and are participating in football, basketball, cross country and track for the school.

For the students who are deaf, these interpreters have made being part of a team even more special. These interpreters make it easier for the athletes to participate in team sports, communicate with both their coaches and teammates and be more included as a member of the team. The students at the school have been very welcoming for those who are deaf. Some have even picked up on some of the sign language and have started to use it to help communicate with the other team members.

Out of the eight sign language interpreters at the school, three have agreed to work alongside of the student athletes. They stay by the students’ sides during team games, practices and meets. Some students, who are a part of the school’s varsity teams, are a huge addition to the school’s athletics. Their differences are not an obstacle in any way. Being a part of the team shows how dedicated and hard-working they are.

These students have the opportunity to show to all the other students that just because they have a disability, does not mean they can’t do the same things the other students do. They are leaders in the deaf community and truly shine out as star players.

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