Viewing entries tagged
Cognitive Awareness

#NothingTopsTennis: International Teamwork at Davis Cup 2016

#NothingTopsTennis: International Teamwork at Davis Cup 2016

July's educational theme, Cognitive Awareness, concluded with an activity that, for many students, required an entirely new way of thinking: playing tennis with a teammate. While the first eight weeks of the season emphasized individual athletic performance and behavior, July 30 highlighted the importance of collaboration with a tennis partner and appreciation for an entire team.

The Davis Cup is an annual tournament in which each KCTL site represents a country. Landmarks on our diverse world map included Guyana (Lafayette Gardens), France (Marcy), Trinidad & Tobago (Jackie Robinson), Brazil (Sumner), and Senegal (Tompkins). Before play, the students and volunteers from each team briefly discussed key facts about their countries.

Tournament play itself consisted of nine "Champion of the Court" stations, in which participants were paired up and matched up according to skill level. In order to become the new Champion, the Challengers had to score two consecutive points against their opponents.  All points won on the Champion side contributed to each team's total score.

The final results of the tournament were definitely shocking, considering that Marcy is our long-term defending champion. Lafayette Gardens, Tompkins, and Sumner, placed in first, second, and third, respectively. We are extremely proud of all players and teams for their efforts!

Beyond tennis, we were fortunate to have two special guests on the court with us. Thank you to KIND Snacks for again sharing healthy goodness with us, and to Birdie NYC (GreenNYC's mascot) for awesome reusable water bottles in exchange for our promise to use less plastic!

#NothingTopsTennis: Tennis Balls to Think About Thinking

#NothingTopsTennis: Tennis Balls to Think About Thinking

At Jackie Robinson, Educational Coordinator Christine led a session about cognitive awareness or, more simply, "thinking about thinking."

Much like how the students at Marcy learned about the concept—divided into pairs with only one member given a tennis ball—Jackie Robinson's empty-handed players were instructed to get the bright yellow sphere from their partners in 30 seconds by "any means necessary." With the exception making physical violence totally off-limits, no further rules were given.

Many of the children ended up chasing each other around the tennis courts. They recouped and Christine had them share how they tried to obtain the ball and discuss which methods worked best.

After some conversation, Christine finally asked who simply requested the ball from their partner, rather than trying to grab it out of his or her hands. To her delight, many did in fact "ask" for the ball, indicating a high level of cognitive awareness.

Following the tennis ball activity, Christine noticed how one of Jackie Robinson's most energetic students, Joey, has shown maturity and cognitive development—particularly in his "assistant coaching" stints. When he helped Michele organize the class, Christine asked, "Joey, how did you get all the kids to follow you? Did you shout?"  

"No, I just asked them individually," he responded proudly.

Week 6: Recap from Marcy

Week 6: Recap from Marcy

Following a break from tennis for Independence Day Weekend, our Marcy students eagerly returned to the courts on Saturday, July 9.

July is Cognitive Awareness Month. We lightly introduced the concept at the beginning of class, but dug deeper during the off-court segment. After stretches and warm-up laps, we played a game that tested our reasoning and judgment. We began standing in the center of court's north side as a group, surrounded by three sets of cones--green, yellow, and blue--in various corners of the court. When our Site Leader, Lucca, announced a color, we ran as a group to the corresponding set of cones. The game not only tested our students' endurance, but their ability to make rational decisions in response to cues. At one point during the game, Lucca called out, "Red!" as a test of judgment. About a third of the students and volunteers began to run toward the nonexistent set of red cones. The drill was a great mental and physical challenge.

Tennis lessons for the day prioritized forehand and backhand volleys. For some students, the no-swing, powerful punch was an easy review, and for others it was an introduction to something completely new. Students participated in stations including a groundstroke-volley combination drill, Volley-Style Champion of the Court, targets, and a racquet-free exercises including squats.

Following our station rotation, our volunteers administered individual paper surveys on Cognitive Awareness. Most students were unfamiliar with the fairly advanced concept, but we hope that by end of the July, they will have a strong understanding.

Next, our Educational Coordinator, Gary, asked everyone to pair up. Most pairs consisted of volunteer and one student. One partner was given a tennis ball, and the other was instructed to obtain the tennis ball from their counterpart "using any means necessary"--safely, of course.

Most student-volunteer pairs ran unnecessarily in circles trying to swat the ball out of the other's hand. But one team completed the exercise correctly. They didn't run. They didn't scream. One partner merely politely asked the other for the ball. So the best way to get the ball was not through a physical contest, but through use of conversation and emotions.