This is my space to rant and rave, vent and vex about education, my passion. I am calling it "Mining for Hidden Gems" because of the above quote and because as a teacher, my job is to look for those gems. The real valuable ones are not usually on the surface. You have to dig deep to find them.

I am also borrowing from Katherine Bomer's wonderful book Hidden Gems: Naming and Teaching From the Brilliance in Every Student's Writing. It has changed the way I look at not just student work but students themselves and all people around me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Gem of a Book: Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The best way to read Kwame Alexander's Crossover is in one sitting from start to finish.  You don't want to take your eyes off of this performance for too long .  The novel in verse tells the story of Josh and his twin brother and that of their relationship with each other, with their father and with the game.  At times the entries made me, a complete ignorant when it comes to basketball, feel as if I was dribbling the ball across the court, performing a crossover and dunking:


At the top of the key, I'm

               MOVING & GROOVING,

POPing and ROCKING -

Why you BUMPING?

             Why you LOCKING?

Man, take this THUMPING.

Be careful though,

'cause now I'm CRUNKing




 and my dipping will leave you

                 G   on the floor, while I


to the finish with a fierce finger roll...

Straight to the hole:


At other times, I felt as if I was watching spoken word poetry, performed with passion on a stage:

In fact, I would read the book several times.  Once, for the music created by the language, once for the vocabulary instruction:        
ca.lam.i.ty noun 
As in: The HUGE bald patch
on the side
of my head is a dreadful

and once for the life lessons disguised as rules of basketball:

Basketball Rule #3
Never let anyone
lower your goals.
Other's expectations
of you are determined
by their limitations
of life.
The sky is your limit, sons.
Always shoot
for the sun
and you will shine.
If ever in search of a book to demonstrate the power of voice in writing, look no further that this.  Not only does the reader hear the voice of the characters, but there is so much richness and so many layers to the way language is used, that you cannot help but feel as if you are hearing a symphony played on the pages of this book.

This book can help those who love the game of basketball learn to fall in love with the way language can be used to describe their beautiful game.  Or, as was the case with me, help a lover of language cross over to appreciate the rhythm and energy of the game.

(Image source:

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