Going For The Gold

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SWBAT read and create graphs based on Olympic data for 2014

Big Idea

Current events - especially the Olympics - should not be ignored in the classroom. Bring the Olympics into the classroom as students gather and interpret data.

Reading a Table

15 minutes

I begin this lesson with an Olympic worksheet olympics questions.docx The worksheet has the number of gold medals won in a previous Olympics. Students solve the worksheet on their own. The worksheet requires students to read the table to answer the questions. 

This is an individual practice page to allow me to assess student ability to read a table and gather information and it serves as an introduction to the Olympics. 

Students complete this work prior to today's lesson. 


Introducing the Olympics

15 minutes

To begin today's lesson, I ask students how many have seen any of the events from the Olympics on television? What events have you seen? Are these the summer or winter Olympics? Would the events be the same at the summer Olympics? Does anyone know where the Olympics are being held? (Students might say Sochi, but do they know where that is?) I bring out a world map and ask if anyone can come up and point out where Sochi is? I will help students to work together to pinpoint where Russia is, and then help them find the Black Sea, from there we can put a mark on our map for Sochi.

Is Russia near the United States or far away? Is it nearer the US or Japan? (we are studying Japan so they can make the connection to our social studies unit. You may study a different country and can relate Russia to that). How can we tell how far away Sochi is from us? (the map has a scale of miles - you may need to explain this if you have not already introduced this earlier in the year). I ask students to use calculators to add up the distances from the scale of miles because on the map it is in sets of 500 miles. This encourages repeated addition practice. 

 Does anyone know if it is 2 o'clock here, what time it might be in Russia? (they are 9 hours ahead). I tell students that they are 9 hours ahead of us.  We read the time on the clock and then count up by moving the hour hand ahead 9 hours. We count up 9 hours on the clock to see what time it would be in Russia and to think about what people there might be doing right now. We discuss that when we see the Olympics on tv at night, the people are already asleep. 

I ask students their favorite winter Olympic sport. We create a graph of favorite sports as a class. I have each child make a small picture of their favorite sport and then we post them in the appropriate category. The picture graph is then used to answer questions such as: "How many people like skiing?" "How many more people like skating than snowboarding?" The questions will develop from the outcome of the graph.

Background Facts

You may wish to gather your own facts to support this lesson. You can base it on a current activity that students may be interested in. 

For the 2014 Winter Olympics, I use a few basic facts from the official website of the Olympics:

  • 6,700 athletes participate
  • 85 nations are represented
  • 2,800 journalists are on site
  • 25,000 volunteers are needed to host the Olympics
  • 42,000 hotel rooms were built for the event
  • Sochi is 9 hours ahead of EST
  • The first Olympics were held in Greece in 776 BC

Classroom Olympics

30 minutes

The students have now been introduced to the Olympics and have had a chance to think about their own interest in one sport or another. Now I ask students to complete 3 tasks. For each task, the students work in partners or triads. One student measures and records while their partner performs each task. When the task has been completed, the partners switch places.

For this task you will need a stop watch, a marked area for jumping (about 4 feet of clear space), and paper and pencil for recording. I remind students that measurements must be precise (MP6) so we can see who really jumps the furthest, or does the most of something. I tell students that it is their job to count or measure carefully and to record the answer so everyone can read it.

The classroom Olympic tasks include:

  1. Long jump  - students stand with their toes on the line and jump with both feet together. The distance from the line is recorded
  2. Push ups - students count how many push ups a partner can do in 30 seconds
  3. One foot hops - students count how many hops a partner can do in 30 seconds

All of the data is collected and recorded on a class sheet. Students come together on the rug and discuss the data that they have collected.  The data can be used to find the longest jump. The difference between the longest and the shortest jump, and similar questions for the push ups and the one foot hops. 


The Awards Ceremony

5 minutes

No Olympics event would be complete without the medals. For this ceremony I made paper gold (with gold glitter on yellow paper), silver (wrapped with tin foil), and bronze (brown paper) medals marked with the Olympic rings and 2014. 

Students helped me determine the first, second and third place winners for each event and the medals were handed out.