Monday, February 10, 2014

The Olympics are HERE!!

They only happen once every four years, so it's pretty exciting. For my fourth graders, it's really a big deal since they don't remember much about the last winter Olympics.

And sometimes, just sometimes, curriculum and current events line up just so nicely.

We just finished reading and exploring Greek Myths, and we are ready for a nonfiction unit.  I have to tell you, my kids loved that unit, so it is a really hard one to follow up. They were so interested and engaged ... and I didn't even have to stand on my head. (To supplement my unit I used my Greek Mythology Set on TpT).

Enter the Olympics ... originally created in .... ANCIENT GREECE!! Perfect.

On Friday we worked on crossing over from fiction to nonfiction. The great part about the transition was that we could talk about the Greek gods in reference to the Olympics. Did you know the Ancient Olympics we held in Olympia and honored the Greek God Zeus?
To get the kids excited about our new unit, we decided as a 4th grade team to have a little fun. Each classroom picked an event as their theme. My class picked hockey. Then, each classroom had to decorate their door with their theme. I let my kids take the reigns, and this is what they came up with: 

They aren't quite finished, but I think they are doing a great job. They also did an amazing job researching the rules of hockey. Each student picked a fact about the game and wrote it on a hockey puck. Obviously they aren't all finished! 
I usually also do another display on the wall outside my door featuring student work. So,  I decided to keep with the hockey theme. We were hitting idioms hard, and I wanted to have them show what they learned. So, I looked up some idioms commonly used in referencing hockey, and used them in a lesson. My students picked their favorite idioms we've learned and wrote the idiom and meaning on another hockey puck. We are a little puck crazy right now ...
I also put a description of the game of hockey outside the door with a lovely graphic by the extremely talented Nikki at MelonHeadz

I decided to make an event card for each of my teammates as well, and then printed them to our plotter. After I got that far, I decided I may as well make my document TpT worthy ... so I created 12 event cards as well as a graphing activity where students can pick and justify their favorite Winter Olympic event (click HERE to check it out). Here is our class bar graph: 
This is the exit slip they filled out. I tried to back them with construction paper to mimic the look of the Olympic rings.

Today we actually started digging into our nonfiction reading. Reading A-Z has some great nonfiction texts on the Olympics. I found a 4th grade level text titled The Olympics: Past and Present. We started reading it today, focusing on the structure of the book initially to gear us to better understand the text. This week we are really going to focus on RI 4.3: I can explained what happened and why in a historical, technical, or scientific text.
I usually like to put the graphic organizers I plan to use in my lesson plans. That way I can pick out the responses I want the students to give beforehand in order to guide their thinking. Otherwise I completely forget what I've picked out of the text. Does this happen to anyone else? 

The best part of today? Hearing cheers when I told my students the texts we would be reading ... SUCCESS!!! :)

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