Part of the push to focus on the Olympics, or anything other than just sports, was that many of my students had no interest in sports. Ask them what they like, and they say “I don’t know”. If the goal is to have interpersonal conversation, that obviously isn't going to work. With the Olympics, however, there are something like 42 events to choose from. There has to be at least one that interests everyone! (Or at least I hope!) While still a work in progress, the unit is starting to take shape. Here are the current essential questions:
Once we matched the vocabulary, we began the conversation about the Olympics with this great infographic:
Sadly, neither my 4th graders nor I will be attending the Olympics this year. And even if we were, the students certainly would not be planning the trip. Keeping this in mind, I decided to focus on what students might watch with their friends instead of what they might attend. In 4th grade, they may not be planning travel, but they are deciding what to watch on TV and with whom to hang out.
The schedule was also a great way to talk about student interests around the sports. Since each word has a picture associated, there is less stress in choosing activities that might not be so popular or easy to decipher. If I like archery and you like fencing, it doesn’t really matter that they aren’t cognates. I have the pictures and Spanish there to assist me! As students started talking about which events interest them – moving away from me gusta and introducing me interesa – we also added in some adjectives to describe why. Yet another chance for guided interpersonal practice (woohoo!). Using a simple chart, students tracked their friends’ answers and talked about who had similar interests. (I use this structure a lot for interpersonal practice so students can clearly see the questions they are working with and also keep track of the information.)
Bringing the Olympics into the classroom is so much more than just activities. We’re making connections to geography, math, culture, and beyond! Using authentic resources to guide the conversation makes the language more real and gives it a purpose beyond the classroom walls. So many of my students play sports that are involved in the Olympics, and now they have a chance to share about themselves in a cultural and language context.