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Wheelchair Basketball: Understanding Others Through Inquiry

It all started when one of my students, Tryston, was reading a book on basketball and came across a picture of someone in a wheelchair playing basketball. He posted these questions on our Wonder Wall: "How do people in wheelchairs play basketball? How do they shoot the ball? How do they run?" 
I remembered that I knew someone who coached a wheelchair basketball team and asked her to come in and speak to the class. During her visit, she brought along one of her former players and arranged a Skype call with another former player. The video below shows our visit with these amazing people.
After the visit, my students learned that one way to answer their lingering questions after reading a text was to seek experts in the world around us.  They learned that an expert could be a child or an adult that just had a lot of knowledge about a topic. We had had a lot of experience looking for our answers in various texts and using online resources, but this was our first experience with an expert. They also learned that when we have questions, we can share what we learned with others. They did this by recording the answers to Tryston’s original questions and other questions that were posed during the visit on a graphic organizer. 
Of course, my students all took away something different from the visit, so they were able to share what they personally learned with each other, with their families, and then with other first grade students. Most importantly, they learned that all people, those with physical handicaps or other problems, can do whatever they put their mind to. They may have to solve a problem differently or play a sport differently, but they can do it. There was a lot of discussion after the visit about how hard it must be to be in a wheelchair, not only to play sports, but to do everyday things that they take for granted. The students saw perseverance at its finest with these two young men, an invaluable lesson. 
We always talk about never giving up and how we need to keep trying. Now, the students have a great example of what this looks like.

Lisa Hawkins is a guest blogger for GPB Education and a first grade teacher at White Oak Elementary School in Gwinnett County. Lisa earned her Bachelor’s degree in education from Keene State College and her Master’s in education from East Stroudsburg University. Prior to teaching in Georgia, Lisa taught in a self-contained... more