Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Competitors or Partners

I subbed in PE today and observed something quite amazing. We played Cornhole (bean bag toss) with two people to each pair of boards. I told them we were playing to 21 - 3 points for going in the hole and 1 point if it stayed on the board. Fourth graders were first, and I noticed some pairs were adding the scores of both players to see how high they could go. The next group of fourth graders did the same. They cheered as much for their opponent as they did for themselves. I decided to tell the rest of the classes they could score either way. A large majority of third graders, second graders, and kindergartners chose to go for one big number. They didn't even compare numbers with other pairs, and they all had a fantastic time.

It was a wonderful example of kids opting out, on their own, of a win-lose game and playing just for the fun of it. I set up a competition and they turned it into a partnership. Score one for those who believe cooperation should trump competition in school.


  1. What an awesome story!
    I wonder what students would come up with on their own if we completely left out any mention of scores/winning or losing when explaining a game or activity?
    This is something I will definitely keep in mind when I have my own classroom and am teaching PE!

  2. Sara, thank you for taking time to read and comment on my post. I wonder the same thing you do. Other classes played the same game the next two days I taught PE. Nobody wanted to compete, and they all cheered for and encouraged each other. I loved watching it!