Managing Students During Trashketball Games


Trashketball games can be incredibly engaging and beneficial for students. However, managing a classroom full of energetic students during these activities can sometimes pose a challenge. Over many years of using trashketball, I’ve developed effective strategies that teachers can implement to successfully manage their students during these games.

1. Prepare Before Playing

Before starting the game, it’s important to prepare the playing space. In my experience, using painters’ tape to mark the lines where students stand for the trashkets works well. The color stands out, and it’s easy to remove after playing. If painters’ tape is not available, masking tape can be a suitable substitute. However, it’s best to avoid duct tape or anything with excessive residue to prevent upsetting the custodians. If playing outside, sidewalk chalk can be an excellent option.

Additionally, ensure that any fragile items have been moved out of the way to avoid damage from airballs or misdirected shots. Placing the trashcan against a wall can prevent it from tipping over easily when the balls hit the rim. For safety reasons, I use soft materials like Nerf balls to protect both students and the classroom. Offering different sizes of balls depending on the trashcan and students’ ages can also be beneficial. In a worst-case scenario, crumpled paper can be used as a substitute.

To streamline the game, print the answer key ahead of time. This allows you to quickly check students’ work and determine winners. Often, groups will have some correct and some incorrect answers, so having the answer key helps decide whether to send them back to their groups to fix any mistakes. If using the PowerPoint version of the game, remember to eliminate the teacher directions, answer key, and credits before sharing it with your class. You may also edit the text on the slides to meet the specific needs of your students.

If you are interested in purchasing game materials for your classroom, click on this Trashketball Set

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2. Establish Clear Expectations and Rules

Before beginning any cooperative learning activity or game, it is crucial to establish clear expectations and rules. Communicate to your students the importance of teamwork, active participation, and respectful behavior. Clearly outline the consequences for misbehavior or disruption during the activity. Depending on your students, it may be helpful to have a discussion about appropriate shooting techniques to avoid accidental injuries. Enthusiastic cheering can sometimes get loud, so discussing appropriate volume levels can also be beneficial. By setting clear expectations, students will know what is expected of them and will be more likely to stay on task and work collaboratively. Each game includes a slide with the rules that you can easily review before starting.

3. Plan Groups and Assign Roles

If possible, plan heterogenous groups ahead of time to ensure a mix of students with varying abilities. Trashketball provides an opportunity for all students, regardless of their grammar or sports skills, to shine. English Language Learners (ELL) often have strong grammar backgrounds and can contribute significantly to their groups.

Assigning specific roles and responsibilities within each group helps maintain structure and accountability. Alternatively, for older students, you can ask them to assign roles to one another. For trashketball groups, designate a leader, a student to write the answers, another to deliver the answers to the teacher (or whoever is checking the group responses), and other students to be the trashketball players. This not only ensures that each student has a role but also encourages cooperation and equal participation. Periodically rotating roles provides students with different opportunities for leadership and responsibility. To avoid confusion, consider modeling examples or demonstrations to illustrate the process or expected behavior.

4. Assess Learning and Provide Feedback

One challenge with cooperative learning is ensuring that all students understand the concepts while working in groups. To promote individual accountability, consider having each student write their own answers and collect them after the game. Additionally, ask each winning group to share their responses orally with the entire class before shooting their trashkets.

If you have a co-teacher, intern, or educational assistant, their presence can be valuable in monitoring and circulating throughout the classroom while you lead the game. They can observe student interactions, offer guidance when needed, and provide feedback on their progress. Working as a team allows you to address any issues or conflicts promptly. Monitoring also enables you to assess individual and group performance, ensuring that everyone is on task and engaged.

Since the games are planned as guided practice, it’s a good idea to provide additional independent practice afterward. This can be done through exit slips, worksheets, or quizzes. Recently, I have started adding independent practice handouts to my games. If you haven’t checked for updates recently, please go back and look at your purchases.

After each game, take the time to reflect with your students. Encourage them to share their experiences, discuss challenges faced, and identify strategies that worked well. This reflection process helps develop their problem-solving skills and promotes a growth mindset. Additionally, provide constructive feedback to each group, highlighting their strengths and areas for improvement. Recognizing their efforts and progress will motivate students to continue working cooperatively.

5. Using the Games Online

If you use platforms like Google Classroom or Microsoft OneDrive, you can utilize the Google Slides versions of the games or upload PowerPoints. However, it’s essential to practice ahead of time to ensure smooth navigation through the slides and clear layout. You may also want to explore animated trashketball games that can be played individually. These animated games are useful for students who may be absent on the days your class plays the games.

Successfully managing students during cooperative learning activities and games requires careful planning and the implementation of effective strategies. By preparing ahead of time, establishing clear expectations, assigning groups and roles, assessing learning and providing feedback, and using online versions of the games, teachers can create a positive and productive learning environment. We would love to hear your ideas and tips to enhance these strategies. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.He

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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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