An online student activity with corresponding lesson plans that provide a look into the Olympic Games, from its past in ancient Greece to the present-day international event
- Use Web technology to learn about ancient Greece and the Olympic Games.
- Build vocabulary skills
- Explore the history of the Olympic Games
- Make connections between Greek and English
- Make and record a persuasive speech
- Write a newspaper article on the 2004 Olympics
- Create connections between the 2004 Olympics and past Olympic Games
- Understand the contributions of ancient Greece to today's world
Set Up and Prepare
- As you plan your lessons, you may wish to print out any reading assignment pages and staple them into a book for individual students.
- Depending on time available, the grade level, and maturity level of each class, activities can be facilitated as independent work, collaborative group work, or whole class instruction. Teachers may use the guide to teach a complete unit or break the content into smaller learning components. Some suggestions are:
- Have individual students create Olympic Spirit Postcards to print as a visual story starter.
- Create a class Olympic Committee to listen and judge individual speeches.
- Create small groups of students to research the Olympics in different decades or different Olympic sports and present their findings to the class.
- If a computer is available for each student, they can work on their own. Hand out the URLs or write them on the board so students will have a guide through the activity.
- If you are working in a lab, set up the computers to be on the desired Web site as students walk into class. If there are fewer computers than students, group the students by reading level. Assign each student a role: a "driver" who navigates the web, a timer who keeps the group on task, and a note taker. If there are more than three students per computer, you can add roles like a team leader, a team reporter, etc.
- If you are working in a learning station in your classroom, break out your class into different groups. Have rotating groups working on the computer(s), reading printed background information, prewriting their speech or newspaper article, researching and writing about the Olympics.
Background (1 day)
Hold a class discussion on the upcoming Olympic Games. Ask students if they remember the last Olympics. Prompt students to talk about why the games are held, and the spirit of international cooperation that the games are meant to foster. At the end of the discussion, tell students that they are going to look at the history of the Olympics in order to know more about the present day Olympics especially when they watch them on TV in August.
Discussion questions may include:
- Why do we have the Olympic Games?
- Why is it appropriate that the Olympics are being held in Greece this year?
- What qualities would you need to be an Olympic athlete?
- Do you think some sports require different qualities (e.g. teamwork) than others?
- Looking at how the purpose and theme of the Olympics have changed over time, what would you predict future Olympics to be about?
History of the Games
Either hand out printouts of the background article on the Olympic Games or direct students, in groups of two or three, to the computers where the article is already loaded. Once they have read through the articles, students should raise their hands in order to receive the Organizer Pattern: Timeline (PDF) . Once they have the handout, students should go through the Olympics in Photos activity. As they click through the photos, students should fill out their timelines with appropriate details.
If there is time at the end of the class, have students return to talk about what they learned. Did they find any facts that surprised them? What were they and why were they surprising? Looking at their filled out timelines, do students want to make any guesses as to what kind of historic events could happen in this upcoming Olympics?
Have students hand in their filled out timelines for teacher assessment.
Investigative Reporting (3-4 days)
Tell students that they are going to be reporters on the scene at the Olympics, and they have an assignment: write an in-depth article on the history of an Olympic sport or an athlete. As good investigative reporters, they need to dig deep into the subject matter.
Direct students to the Scholastic News special report on the Olympics and hand each student a printed copy of the 5 Ws (PDF). Either pick a topic for them to explore (a specific event, an athlete, Greece, etc.) or have them pick a topic on their own. They should fill out the 5 Ws graphic organizer as they explore and read different articles through the end of the period.
On the second day, have students continue their research and continue filling out the 5 Ws graphic organizer while exploring the Research Starters: Olympic Games . Give them the class period and have them hand the filled 5 Ws graphic organizer for teacher assessment.
If more time is needed, send students to the library or use the Background Information section to send your students for more online research. If appropriate for their topic, encourage students conduct interviews with local sports figures - these can range from retired Olympians who may live nearby to other students who play on the school teams. Students should interview these subjects on Olympic dreams, recollections, memories, etc.
On the third day, have the Be a Reporter game loaded on the computer and hand back the KWL charts. Instruct students to follow the steps in the activity, write an in-depth news article. Be sure to have them print out their articles.
With the students' articles, you will create a class magazine for the Olympics. Students draw covers by hand. Have students submit their covers, and as a class, vote for the one that will be on the cover and the image that will be on the back cover. The rest of the images should illustrate the magazine between the articles. See assessment and evaluation.
Supporting All Learners
International Reading Association (IRA) & National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Standards:
Election 2004 helps students meet the following standards
- Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States.
- Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions.
- Students use a variety of technological informational resources (libraries, databases, computer networks) to gather and synthesize information to create and communicate knowledge.
- Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- Students use spoken, written, and visual language for learning, persuasion, and exchange of information.
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
Election 2004 meets the standards of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), which promote the development of students as good citizens in a culturally diverse, interdependent world. The content and activities of this project are especially appropriate for the themes of:
Power, Authority and Governance
Provide experiences for the study of how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance.
Individual Development and Identity
Students learn to ask questions such as "What influences how people learn, perceive, and grow?"
Students learn how to understand multiple perspectives that derive from different cultural vantage points.
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Students learn about how institutions are formed, what controls and influences them, and how they can influence individuals and culture.
Civic Ideals and Practices
Students gain an understanding of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.
Extend the lesson
In My Backyard (1-3 days)
Print out the article "How Olympic Locations are Chosen" for students to read as homework. The next day, hold a class discussion. Now that students have an idea of what past Olympic Games were like, ask students if it makes sense for a city to host the Olympics. On the board, write the pros and cons to hosting the Olympics. Then, ask students if they would want the Olympics to come to their hometown. What would they like about it? How could it help their city or town? Add these comments to the board.
Direct students to the Writing with Writers: Speechwriting activity and tell them that they will be writing and presenting persuasive speeches that will convince the International Olympic Committee to bring the Olympics to their hometown. If there is more class time for the project, have students complete the activity the following day. Or, these final steps should be done as homework. Some class time should be devoted for practice with one another before recording their speech. Check back within a month to see if your speeches were published online!
Explain to the students that the Greeks also influenced the English language, they are going to find out through the "It's Greek to Me" activity. Print a study list (PDF) for students to review - students can review in class while other students are on the computers or they can all review the list at home as homework. Students should play the game repeatedly, trying to get gold medals and improve their vocabulary.
Formal Assessment Ideas
Olympic Spirit Postcards
For students creating Olympic Spirit Postcards, make sure they print a copy before they email them to their friends and family. Through this printout, you can assess the thought process in making these cards. Were the students, especially younger students, thinking about the previous discussion on the theme of international cooperation or did they just create a pretty picture? You can continue this assessment based on the story written about the postcard. See the rubric below.
It's Greek to Me
The "It's Greek to Me" activity can be graded based on scores and improvement. Students can track how many times they played the game and number the printouts for the games where they win a medal. Check for improvement and retention. You can create a multiple choice quiz of your own through the Teacher Toolkit to reinforce the vocabulary words and spelling.
In My Backyard
The persuasive speech should be graded on content as well as delivery. Students should write clearly organized, well through out speeches, and they should practice these speeches with peers or the teacher for evaluation on delivery. Make sure you listen to the speech at some point in case a speech is not selected for publication. See persuasive speech rubric below.
Students in grades 3-5 will be writing a newspaper article based on the current events of the Olympic Games. They will focus on one topic which should be graded based on the rubric below.
Students in grades 6-8+ will be writing an in-depth news article that looks at a topic both in the historic context as well as the current situation. Students should be graded not only on their article but also on their teamwork in creating the class magazine. See rubric below.
Both the newspaper article and the investigative report can be published online through the Writing with Writers: News Writing workshop.
Informal Assessment Ideas
Assess students as they are involved with class discussions and from their filled out KWL and Timeline (PDF) organizers. Base your assessment on student participation and discussion. Has the student made connections through the activities and the discussions? Has the student filled out the timeline completely and the KWL chart with thoughtful questions with researched answers?