6 Resources to Add the Olympics to Your Lesson Plan

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics are halfway through, and students across the world are watching athletes stretch the limits of possibility. The games offer a great point of interest to engage students in classroom discussions. Here are several science resources on the Internet to help integrate the games into your lesson plans.

Six Lesson Ideas for the Olympics

The Science of Winter Olympic Sports: NBC Learn developed a series of science tutorial videos for the Sochi Olympics in Russia. Each video explains the scientific principles at play in various sports. There is even a video explaining the physics behind Shaun White’s dynamic half pipe skills.

Getting Physical: The New York Times Learning Network published an extensive learning plan for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. This is a very detailed lesson plan with great exercises that highlight the science behind the Olympics. Check it out.

The luge is just one of many winter Olympics sports that can be used to demonstrate physics to students.
Image by the Republic of Korea. The Luge

Olympic Engineering: What does it take to get a city ready for the Olympics? Teach Engineering encourages students to build their own event centers using design process. Students are encouraged to think out of the box as they meet some of the challenges facing them, from geography to resources. Recommended for elementary or early middle school students.

Lesson Plans for Purchase: Teachers Pay Teachers hosts a whole series of lesson plans geared around the games. If you filter down to science, there are still more than 50 lesson plans altogether! Prices range from $2 to $10.

Eight Great STEM Lesson Ideas: Pearson put together a series of math and science lessons related to the winter games, but these could easily be applied to a Summer Olympics, too. Science teachers will find weather-related exercises towards the end of the list.

Gold Medal Olympic Activities: Education World put together a series of Olympic exercises, also for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Some of these include turning your classroom into its own Olympic competition between students!

What would you add?

Six Tips for Shaking Up Summer Learning This Year

Excerpted from How to Prevent Summer Learning Loss and Close Achievement Gaps. Download it today.

By the end of May, everyone is ready for a break from the school routine. Students stop responding to the usual content delivery methods, and as a result, summer learning loss sets in.

So change up your methods.

Develop summer courses that meet learning needs and curriculum standards while providing fun and engagement. Fun and engagement can take many forms, from project based learning to field trips to digital gaming. For example, Legends of Learning science games provide an interactive learning experience for students with questions aligned to curriculum standards. The teaching methods vary but should be aligned with your district’s overarching academic goals.

To help you get started, here are six quick tips to add a little variety to your summer learning programs.

Six Tips For Your Summer Learning Experience

1) Focus on Individualized, Personalized Instruction. Limiting summer class size allows teachers and students to interact one-on-one more often. As a result, relationships develop; students are encouraged to learn and grow; and teachers guide students toward classroom lessons and activities that fit the individual student’s learning level and style.

2) Take Kids on Field Trips. Teachers demonstrate learning is fun through field trips. Such trips can occur within the community and range from the zoo to a local bottling company. If funds are tight, supplement off-campus field trips with digital ones. Google and Discovery, for example, offer digital field trips that take place in the Sahara, Antarctica, and other locations.

3) Invite Speakers to the School Campus. Students see how curriculum lessons translate to life skills when people talk about their day-to-day work. Teachers could invite civic leaders, parents, and other people into the classroom to talk about their work experiences and background. Microsoft also provides experts for the classroom via Skype. Kids can hear from environmentalists, coastal engineers, and other pioneers in the arts and sciences.

4) Turn Facts into Skills with Hands-On Projects. Students learn what they live, so teachers should find ways to turn basic concepts into practical skills. Some schools facilitate this idea with community projects, such as a garden or recycling center. Some schools, though, involve students in activities like building a greenhouse or small-scale wind farm. Others take their students to community partners where they participate in activities and projects.

5) Keep Kids Engaged Inside and Outside the Classroom with Digital Games. Kids like games. Teachers often do, too. Edgames offer chances to connect with students on their level. Kids play online games all the time, so giving them games that facilitate learning and subject mastery is a no-brainer. Plus, edgames typically allow teachers and district administrators to monitor student progress and, depending on the implementation, keep budget costs low.

6) Test New Teaching Models and Classroom Layouts. Summer provides a perfect time to pilot new teaching models, methods, and classroom layouts, says Gary Huggins, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association. Explore blended learning models, edgames platforms, and other ways to engage students and build digital literacy skills. Assess impact at the end of the summer and expand what works into an official instructional approach.

No matter which method(s) you employ, remember that students are drawn in by new experiences. If you surprise them each day with even a small tweak to your instructional methods you will see a huge increase in student engagement. Try Legends of Learning science games and you will see some very excited looks on students faces. Have a great summer and shake it up!

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