Make Distance Learning Engaging with Virtual Trashketball Games

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Did you know that high school students adore trashketball? Even though the game is played more often in middle school, it’s one of the best activities that I have in my teacher toolbox. In fact, I have never had a class of students that didn’t enjoy it. They like the games because trashketball makes learning concepts that aren’t usually exciting – such as grammar- more engaging and memorable.

Sadly, since the start of the pandemic, I have not been able to play traditional trashketball in my classroom. Although I encouraged my students to play on their own at home last spring, I wanted a way to play with all of my students during our distance learning. However, I struggled with how to make that happen until recently. After watching Power Point training videos to improve my skills, I finally came up with a solution – Virtual Trashketball! 

Like the games that I use for regular trashketball, I use Power Point to create the new games. I make them so that they can be uploaded into my Learning Management System (Schoology) and be played with a video presentation program such as Zoom.

The games start just like my previous games- with a review of the grammar concepts- skills such as pronoun and antecedent agreement, prepositional phrases, and sentence problems. I present the review to the class and ask them to take notes, or I assign it to them as an individual activity. Just last week, I used my sentence structures game with my students to help them improve their grammar in preparation for the SAT.

Once students review the concept, they play the game. Detailed instructions tell both students and teachers how to play. If the game will be a class competition, students print (or mark) the “score sheet” to record earned points after each “trashket.”

Basically, as the students progress through the questions, they click on their answer choices. If they’re incorrect, they click on an arrow to return the question and they get to try again. 

If they choose the correct answer, they click on a box that says “next” and takes them to a slide where they choose one of three different colored basketballs.

Once they click on their basketball choice, they’re taken to another slide which allows them to “shoot” their trashket. The player shoots the basketball and it bounces around, finally making it into the trashcan. (These are just random animations.) 

Once the ball lands in the trashcan, the points that are scored display on the slide. These points are arbitrary, so it really doesn’t matter what basketball they select.

The students advance through the game by continuing this process and recording their points until they finish the last question. If the teacher wants to add a prize, students can submit their scores to determine a winner.


Finally, to ensure that students understand the concept, they take a self-grading quiz which is in a Google Form. Then teachers can review the results, and based on the data, they may choose to reteach concepts that students are still struggling with.

It’s important to note that the trashketball “shooting” animation doesn’t work in Google Slides at this time. That doesn’t have to stop students from playing, though. Instead, they just need to download the game as a Power Point presentation and play it in slide show mode.

Have you returned to in-class instruction or are following a hybrid model?  You can still play the traditional games in your class with a couple of modifications. Minimize the spread of germs by ordering a multi-pack of mini-sports stress balls and allow each student to use his or her own ball.  Or, if you want to involve your virtual students in “shooting” the balls, ask them to choose a classmate to be their “proxy” trashketball shooter.


Whether you play to celebrate the March Madness or just to make learning active, any time during the school year is a great time to play and make real-world connections that your students will appreciate. I’m looking forward to playing another game with mine later this week, and it will be easy because the games are already made and ready to play!

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I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher and curriculum designer. I like to make learning active, relevant, and fun while encouraging students to think critically about the world around them. With 24+ years of teaching experience, I also want to empower educators – in the classroom, online, and at home- so they can provide the best lessons to their students!

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