Bringing Harry Potter to the gym

16035134456_58a90c5ee4_oMy students know well by now that I am a nerd. I say many things like, “If you need a pencil let me know now, otherwise you’ll have to get it done via telekinesis.” Or when students are talking I’ll say something like, “you should not be talking, if you have a question ask me, help will always be given at Hogwarts for those who ask for it.” I get all sorts of weird faces. After one of geeky references, a student asked, “are you an undercover, geek?” Another student responded, “No she’s an undercover freak.” Needless to say that student received an unpleasant phone call home that afternoon.  Nevertheless, I never miss an opportunity to expose my students to my geeky interest.

Last year I introduced my students to a new sport, Muggle Quidditch. I teach a non-tradition PE class, that focuses on a lot of group and individual activities such as Yoga, Martial Arts, and Zumba. I am still required to teach team sports objectives, like offensive and defensive strategies, so I decided to find an activity that would cover that but not be the basic soccer, basketball, and volleyball. I each brought the librarian to do the introductory lesson for it. The school I teach at is a inner city, low performing school. Most of the students are Hispanic and African American, so some of them had seen at least 1 of the Harry Potter movies, and hardly any had read the book. I was very happy to see that after we went over this, some of the student had checked Harry Potter books out from the library. They can see that I’m just bubbling with excitement as I’m discussing the rules of the game, recalling examples from the story. I also tried to hook them by saying that universities like UNC and Duke have Quidditch teams that participate in championships, and a few of our high schools have intramural teams as well. After my first time teaching the unit last year it was a huge success. Mainly because of incorporates aspects from so many sports.

For those that don’t know in Muggle Quidditch you obviously can’t fly, but you still run with a broom stick between your legs. We use hockey and lacrosse sticks, since we don’t have a class set of broom sticks lying around. There are 3 chaser, that score 10 points by throwing a quaffle through the goal. In official Muggle Quidditch they use volleyballs as the, we use gator balls. We made the goals from volleyball standards with a hula hoop duct taped on the side. Keepers defend their teams goal from the other teams, chasers. Beaters use a bludger to get people out. In the official game they use dodgeballs, we use smaller soft foam balls. Then there’s the seeker who catches the snitch which awards there team 30 points and ends the game. If you don’t know Muggle Quidditch you’re probably wondering how we have a snitch, since its a small, gold, flying ball. The snitch in this case is a neutral player, with a tennis ball hooked to them in a sack or bag. In the college games it hangs over their butt, no way I’m doing that with middle schoolers. They tie it to their belt loop instead.

This year effective lesson planning and having activating strategies has been a big push in our district. For those not on education an activating strategy is used to get the focus and attention on what you’re going to teach. It should gasp upon prior knowledge they can connect to what they learn. So I decided to do “mix-pair-share”. Student mix and walk around the gym randomly. While they walk I play Harry Potter theme music in the background. When the music stops they pair with the closest person to them. Then share the answer to this question, “If you had magically powers what would you like to be to do the most?” Some student said things like be super strong, speed, teleportation was a biggie. I then explained that when I see movies or read books I often wish I could do the things they are able to do with magic. With Quidditch we can experience a part of the fantasy world.

My 7th and 8th graders had been asking thoughout the year if and when we would be playing Quidditch again. The librarian gave me a quidditch book. I offen get dibs on new sci-fi/fantasy books that come through the library given my interest. I haven’t read it yet, but I hope it can give me new ideas for my 7th and 8th grade classes. My 6th grade classes seemed intrigued. They had to get the whole presentation and take notes since they’d likely never had played it before. I enjoy bring some of my world to my classes. Any showing them that their are no barriers. Hispanics can play basketball, and blacks can play soccer. And a chubby
black girl can be a nerd, like me.

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