You be the Judge: Point of View

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SWBAT read closely about a famous athlete and then watch footage of that athlete to write a response that judges their performance.

Big Idea

The Olympics have caused quite a stir and to use the momentum from the games this lesson has students read about an Olympian they do not know from the past. They will then judge that athlete on the performance they demonstrate in writing.


15 minutes

Students are going to read an article on Michelle Kwan, a figure skater that competed in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics. I chose the article because I knew that she competed before my students were born. The article I found was from an old Teacher's Helper magazine, but the link provided is very similar to what we read and would contain the information needed for writing. Any athlete would work for the article.

I go over the expectations for their reading. They need to read CLOSELY and annotate as they go. They will then be given time to write an initial response. I write on the board that I am looking for what the author might want us to know and learn from Michelle's story. 

Careful Observations

15 minutes

I follow the CLOSE reading format, I read and annotate the text after they have read their original response. Before I give them time to add any thoughts to their original response, I show the class Michelle's 1998 Short Program. I then allow students to add to their writing, they might realize what they left out or make connections after hearing me read or by watching her skate. I want them to write as much as possible to help them with their reading comprehension. 

It is now time for students to take on a different role as judge. At the end of the article it explains that Michelle Kwan received the Silver medal in 1998. Students are very shocked by this because they assumed when we began that she had won the Olympic Gold. I start the judging portion by telling them that Michelle competed in the next Winter Olympics in 2002. 

This really gets their attention. They immediately want to see her skate. I explain that they will first need to do some work before I can show it. I hand out a new piece of paper and ask them to write down all of the things they might need to observe if they were a skating judge. This is when I tell them that bullets would come in handy. The list they make will be important for when they become judges. 

Their job is to watch carefully each skater and write down three to four sentences that explain what they see. They need to use evidence from what they see and then when they complete their sentences, they need to give it a 1-10 rating. They will watch parts from three different skating programs from the 2002 Olympics. 


Sasha Cohen - Bronze Medal 2002

Sarah Hughes - Gold Medal 2002

Michelle Kwan - Free Skate 




Overall Response

10 minutes

Now that they have watched pieces of all three American skaters, they will need to now write a response that focus' back on Michelle Kwan's performance. It needs to include the medal that they think she earned. I give them time to write.

Once the responses have been collected I lead the class into a discussion. I ask them to discuss what they saw, how they felt about what they saw, and to talk about their prediction for the outcome. Students are very much on the side of Michelle Kwan and feel that even with the slight fall, she should still get a Gold Medal. I ask them to explain this further with each other, very few feel that she might not get a medal in the end. 

When I explain that Michelle did not medal and that the other two Americans did, they are shocked. They then immediately want to agree or disagree. I let them share their thoughts, and they begin to talk about why they think the other two Americans won medals. When the class now has confirmed through their notes why the other two won, I ask "how did so many of them feel that Michelle should have won when she slipped?" This is where I begin to explain point of view and that I had helped them to see who Michelle Kwan was before watching her skate so they had a prior knowledge that rooted her on. One student after the discussion, said that he now sees how hard it might be to be a fair judge.