March – April

All classes have been working on soccer skills, leading up to mini-soccer scrimmages. The biggest surprise for me is how much skill our students have. I remember watching our varsity soccer players when I was in high school (I was a 2nd string running back on the football team). The soccer we played back then I think can best be described as “rudimentary” compared with today’s game. Allowing for differences in size and strength, I believe our experienced fifth graders would run circles around that team. Why? The short answer, I think, is globalization. The U.S. has globalized in soccer as it has in many other things, and we have clearly been the beneficiaries of that trend. I witness footwork, ball-handling, deception and play-making skills in our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders that, frankly, astonish me.

I’ve given some thought to the role of soccer in public school PE here at Challenger. How much time should we spend on it given that our children are clearly getting a significant amount of coaching and practice outside of school? Do we just skip soccer or give it a passing glance and instead move on to areas where we can expose students to something new? This is a real dilemma given the scarce minutes that we have in PE with a half-hour-a-day, twice-a-week program. In his popular textbook, Teaching Children Physical Education, George Graham presents some figures on instructional time in physical education classes. Based on a 180 day school year and a 2 day per week program, a typical 30 minute PE class would meet for a total of 2,160 minutes. That would be reduced by an estimated 216 minutes in “uncontrolled lost instructional time,” (assemblies, snow days, field trips, etc.) yielding 1,944 minutes, or 32.4 hours a year. When you consider that those 30 minutes don’t represent “wall to wall” learning due to off-task time, it’s clear that we can’t cover everything we would like to cover in PE and that we have to make some hard choices.

While a significant fraction of our student population is playing soccer outside of school, many of our students do not, and because it is such a popular game and so important in so many cultures around the world, I think that one’s physical education would be incomplete without exposure to soccer. There is so much skill crossover to other games and sports – footwork, speed, agility, defense and offense, transitions, play-making, passing, scoring, teamwork. And because there is no complex equipment to present additional learning challenges, children can focus on these concepts without being encumbered.

Gymnastics is coming in a month, and we look forward to the delivery of brand new equipment purchased by the district. Click over to the PE Blog for photos.

See you in PE!

-Bill Mokin


About My Classroom

Please contact me by e-mailing or phoning (425)837-7560.

Challenger Elementary School
25200 SE Klahanie Blvd.
Issaquah, WA 98029
425 837-7550

Issaquah School District
565 NW Holly Street
Issaquah, WA 98027
425 837-7000