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A reflection on NBA Math Hoops

Thomas O’Halloran – 5/6 Teacher at Moreland Primary School

5 Sept 2022

A fun and memorable way to engage the whole class in mathematical learning

As a teacher, I have no doubt that effective teaching has the most significant impact on student learning outside influences in the home.

However, effective teaching takes time and investment. The 2021 Grattan survey reports that 92% of teachers frequently feel that they do not have enough time to prepare for effective teaching. I am one of those teachers, spending endless unpaid hours planning each week to ensure I am delivering effective and engaging lessons. I am always on the hunt for fun and memorable learning resources, especially the lessons that capture the minds and hearts of the students. They must be easy to implement and enable me to work smarter - not harder.  So, when I saw the Huddle promoting NBA Math Hoops, a board game that promised to leverage sport in the classroom to maximise student engagement, I was open to giving it a go.

As a sports and maths fan, I immediately recognised the power of a board game that leverages basketball to engage students in mathematics. After completing the teacher training (thankfully, a painless, super-informative online 90-minute workshop), I was impressed by the game's potential to shift the mindset of students who consider themselves to be 'bad at maths'.

While initially excited, it wasn't until I received the FREE class set that I was blown away by the high quality of the board game. The game was fun, colourful, and the player cards were attention-grabbing. I also recently found out that Hasbro, the creators of Monopoly, are also the creators of NBA Math Hoops.

The NBA Math Hoops game formula is simple in its utilisation of “the four C’s”. Students must collaborate, communicate, think critically and creatively to win. The in-school NBA Math Hoops draft was pure chaotic bliss. Students were scrambling to review player cards, deciphering statistics, using multiplicative thinking, debating player selection with peers, and justifying their decisions. It is always wonderful to watch students practising the skills that will equip them to navigate and thrive in our ever-changing world.

I love how the game establishes intrinsic motivation in students to build upon and use their mathematical knowledge. The associated lesson plans effectively scaffold students to practice the relevant mathematical skill while gradually layering the game rules. This means that I didn’t have to be the game expert, and what's more, I liked that I could adapt the rules to support or challenge every student in my class.

To sum up my experience, NBA Math Hoops was a series of wonderful surprises. While compiling the semester reports, I was astonished by how many students referenced NBA Math Hoops in their reflective comments, many describing the game as a fun way to learn maths - even students who declare themselves as ‘bad at maths’. Like sneaking vegetables into a pasta sauce, NBA Math Hoops is stealth learning! I would highly recommend the board game and accompanying resources to any educator looking for a way to engage their whole class in mathematical learning, whilst offering a fun and memorable experience that will be a highlight of the school year.

To find out more about NBA Math Hoops, please click here

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