Friday Two Cents: Using Statistics To Help Teach


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The week before the end of the school year is a crazy time. Teachers getting report cards ready, children doing last-minute assignments, end of the year concerts and so on. Everything is coming to ahead for the end of school and the beginning of summer break. With everything else the softball and t-ball leagues I run at the school, are all wrapping up and I have only one more game left to play.

I finished the T-Ball season with the championship game this week. The T-ball league is for students from the grades kindergarten to grade 2. It was a fun-filled game with all the students enjoying themselves while trying to capture the T-ball Championship. In the end it came down to the closest game of the season. The two teams, Monkeys verse Chipmunks, played their hearts out, but the Chipmunks prevailed defeating last year’s Champion the Monkeys. The final score was Chipmunks 29, Monkeys 28. A nail biter, right to the end.
T-Ball Championship Game: Monkeys vs Chipmunks

T-Ball Championship Game: Monkeys vs Chipmunks

This following week the older students will be playing their championship game on Tuesday, with both teams looking forward to the final game. The two teams, the Bears and Dolphins both came to the finals on two different paths. The Bears were in first place from the first week and never looked back finishing the round robin with a 5 win and 1 lose record. The Dolphins on the other hand started in the bottom losing their first two games, scoring a total of 3 runs for both games and having a run scoring percentage of 20%. But they rallied back and finished the round robin and even 3 wins and 3 loses. Yet the amazing thing is that they ended up finishing first in runs scored with 60 and having the highest run scoring percentage at 61.2%. How do I know this? I keep statistics for the league.
Yes I keep statistics on the children. They are not that detailed, just on-base percentage (OBP), numbers and types of hits and runs batted in. The beauty of it all is that the students keep the score and I enter the numbers into the computer to get the stats. At the beginning of training camp I would teach every child how to keep score on the score sheet and the teams would do so. They are very enthusiastic and do a great job. Many would think that keeping stats would be detrimental to the children; on the contrary, it encourages them and helps them with their self-esteem. On more than one occasion I would see students looking at the weekly stats and telling others what their numbers are. The children all look forward to them and it is also a great teaching tool.
You might not think it but it truly is. Many children would ask me how I come up with the stats and then I would explain that it is all simple math.   They all look at me in astonishment and then I would show them on the board how simple and useful math can be. One example is how to get their OBP. I would take the number of times they would get on base (OB) and divide by the number of at bats (AB). Then this would give me the percentage of how many times they get on base.

 OB / AB = OBP –> (10) / (12) = .917 –> .917 * 100 = 91.7%   OBP is .917 or 91.7%

 Strictly speaking, I just taught them that math is a part of a game that they enjoy.
Yet I also discovered another benefit of the statistics for the students. Part of the program is to develop leadership for the older students and teamwork for everyone playing. The captains and assistants are given responsibilities, one of them is creating their lineups and player positioning for the games. I noticed the captains and assistants would use the statistics when they are creating their lineups. They told me they would place players in a specific way to help score more runs and position where their pitchers would pitch.
That’s what I love about baseball. You can learn to play the game and yet once you do you can learn something new about it. For the children, without even knowing about it, they learned math, strategic planning and social skills outside the classroom.  
Oh one other question the students kept asking me. ‘Who is going to win the Championship Game?’ I answered with ‘Who do you think will win?’ Many looked at the stats and gave me their predictions. Even teachers have given me their predictions after looking at the statistics.
I’m curious who you think will win based on the stats. The two teams playing in the championship game are the Bears vs. Dolphins with the Bears having home field advantage. Below are the stats and a poll. Let me know and I will let you know after the game Tuesday who the winner is and if your predictions were in line with the children’s.

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Stats2016wk07 copy pg03

 

 

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Friday Two Cents: It All Gives Me Hope


 

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This past week I started training camps for the students who joined the softball and T-ball leagues. For the first week I just want them to throw around the ball to get use to the idea of throwing and catching. For many of the kindergarten to grade 2 students it’s the first time they are wearing a glove or throwing a T-ball. The same can be said for the older students, the softball is a lot larger than a normal sized baseball or tennis ball, which many use to play catch.

Yet this is only part of what we do in the first week, we then go into a classroom where we go over some basic rules of the game. For the younger students we go over where to run to, so they understand were they should go. With the older students we go over a lot more rules such as tagging up from a pop fly and conduct on and off the field.
However these are just boring logistics of the game. I always let them know that this is a game and the #1 rule is, “Having fun!” And to extend this philosophy I always end the first day of training camp with a cartoon. Which cartoon you may ask? Why, that classic Disney cartoon with my favourite character Goofy; “How to play baseball.”

All the students love this little cartoon and it seems to set the mode for the rest of the season. I even had parents come into the class, sit-down and watch the cartoon. For some reason this little 8-minute cartoon speaks to kids of all ages. I guess I have to keep in mind that quote from the movie Field of Dreams:

‘The one constant through all the years, has been baseball. North America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This game: it’s a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.’

Quote from Field of Dreams Terence Mann: (James Earl Jones)

You know I think that is why I love baseball so much. When I see the students playing the game, throwing a ball or watching a cartoon about baseball, it gives me hope. It reminds me of all that once was good and could be again.

Friday Two Cents: One Hour Of Play At A Time


 

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Seven years ago I started a softball and T-ball leagues at the school I work in, with the afterschool students. It started as a way for me to continue my love of baseball with the hopes of passing my love for the game to the students. As well, not to sound sexist but, many of the female students had no idea how the game was played. I wanted them to have the same opportunity to understand and appreciate the game. Finally, I also noticed a lack of extra-curriculum activities for students in the younger or primary grades (kindergarten to grade 2). This is why I wanted to do a T-ball league for them. Therefore, with help from the other staff I was able to start the leagues and amazingly we are starting our seventh year.

This year the director came to me and said that because of new ministry regulations we need to give the students the option of joining the softball and T-ball leagues. At first I was not sure about this, I thought that many of the students would not want to participate in the programs. I originally started the program to bring baseball to the students who would not normally join a program and hopefully they can learn something new.   But then I thought that in the end it would be a good thing because most the students know the game and only the ones that truly wanted to participate would join.
I talked to my director and we both agreed that about 36 – 40 students in the junior grades (grades 3 – 5) would participate in the softball program and about 55 – 60 students in the primary grades (kindergarten to grade 2) for the T-ball program. The response I received for the softball was about right and better with 45 joining the softball program, but I was beyond surprised with the response from the primary grades.

T-Ball Fun

By the final date to respond, I had a final total of 81 students wanting to participate in the T-ball league. Our estimate was 55 – 60; we received an extra 26 students wanting to participate. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I did not think that these students or parents wanted to join.
Staff members told me that this is a great thing; it shows that I run a good program for the students and they want to join. Yet logistically is seems like a nightmare but I have to admit that my colleagues are right. I do feel good with this overwhelming response.
In many ways it justifies my reasoning in starting this program. But it also shows me that there is a true lack of extracurricular activities for primary students. In every school I have worked in, there are extracurricular activities for the junior and intermediate (grades 6 – 8) grades. Many range from different sports to academic clubs (math and chess clubs), but nothing for the primary grades, especially kindergarten. I understand that the older grades are more active and require extra stimulation, yet the younger students need some ‘fun’ too. I think people need to keep this famous quote from Plato in mind when it comes to truly getting to know someone.

 

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato

Having fun playing baseball

You would be amazed by what these little people are like. I know they always amaze me. Now I can get to now over a 120 of them; One hour of play at a time.

 

Getting to know the students one hour of play at a time.

Friday Two Cents: Coaching T-Ball Using Encouragement: With George Part 7


 

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  For the past 6 years I have organized and ran a softball and T-ball league at the school I work in, yet I have not taken my experience and knowledge of coaching out of the school setting until this year. A colleague asked me to help coach a T-ball team in a league, in the evenings, once a week. We started around mid-May and we finished the regular season last week. But of course after the season comes the playoffs and this past week the team has been busy with a life and death playoff run.

photo 8

George loves baseball.

Unfortunately we lost in the quarterfinals Friday night. Yet, the kids spirits were still high after the game and we did finish 3rd in a league of 10 teams. That is still an accomplishment.

After the game my friend, the head coach, handed out the individual trophies, the most improved and the best sportsmanlike trophy. They were all excited and we took a lot of group shots with the trophies. After, the parents took photos of their children with the three coaches. It was a lot of fun and everyone was enjoying a great season and good times.

While everyone was just hanging around, many parents came up to us and said that we were the best coaches they have seen in many years. We asked why and many pointed out that we did not yell at the children in a harsh manner if they missed a play. Yet we always had an encouraging word for them and always cheered them on. They said that many of the other coaches were not like that with their kids. To be honest when they mentioned it to us I do see many of the coaches acting a bit hard with their kids. Mind you nothing in the way of abusive language or demeaning the kids. But they were almost treating them like they were older children perhaps adolescents, who have been playing for years and not 6 and 7 year olds.

Though upon reflection, the fact that we placed 3rd over all in a league of 10 is very good. Mind you two of our losses were because of forfeits due to a lack of players, (you need 8 minimum to play). If we had those players we may have even played second, who knows. But the one thing that is true and I have seen it in the classroom and when I ran my own leagues, is that encouragement is always preferable to any harsh criticism. That goes for children and adults alike. The kids did great and had fun along the way. In the end their smiles and laughter after losing their last game shows that this principle of encouragement over criticism is truly the right approach. Now if only more people adopt this principle, who knows how far students or adults can go with the right kind of encouragement.  

 

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