The Rio Olympics in Language Arts
I’m not a sports fan, but I love the Olympics! The summer games provide a great source of material for reading informational texts and apply to so many types of language arts activities. Even better – the Olympics is a topic that many kids are already interested in! Kids who are into sports will have their favorite events, and kids who are not sports fans will get into the human interest stories and current events reports that surround the games themselves I’ve been taking some time to browse through internet sites about the Olympics in search of bits that would lend themselves to various language arts activities, and one of the places where I found some good ones is at the Team USA site. Here are a few suggestions for informational text readings, along with a suggested language arts activity for each one.
One section that I think would especially appeal to kids is the athletes’ biographies. Students can choose their favorite Olympian from an alphabetical list and read interesting facts about that athlete’s career and life. Then, the students can search for more in depth information by following up in the Learn More section or from the Related Articles linked to each biography. One good activity for this section would be to search for the athlete’s future goals and plans, and then to write a follow-up reading response. Two possible topics are:
- Predictions for this athlete’s future
- My own future goals and plans
Another page that kids are sure to enjoy is the fun facts. This is an article with a long bulleted list of interesting facts about the US team. It also has some informational graphics, in case you would like to incorporate a little practice with text features in your lesson. This page would be perfect for a question writing activity in which students write questions to be answered by classmates in some type of trivia game.
The sports previews section is all about the US team’s prospects going into the 2016 games. It includes information about how well the US has done in that sport in the past and about individual athletes who were expected to do especially well at Rio. Students could use this information in activities that involve making comparisons by charting the information about one team or athlete from this section next to information about how that team or athlete actually performed in the 2016 Summer Olympics. An interesting writing activity might be to update one of the articles with information from the 2016 games.
Learn About a New Sport
The “Sports” tab on the home page of the Team USA site has tons of information about sports that kids may not have taken an interest in before. The type and format of the information varies according to what sport they choose. It’s a great section for some authentic research about a sport that could be interesting but that the kids have never considered before. To begin researching, have students start at the team USA site, and then choose the “Sports” tab, and then “Summer.” Next, they should choose a sport that sounds interesting, but that they don’t already know a lot about. From there, the direction of their research will vary, depending on what sport each student chooses. Direct students to search for basic information that they might want to know in order to get started in that sport. After taking notes on the information they find, students can present their findings in whatever way suits your current lesson focus, such as a written report, a project with graphics, an informational chart, or a poster advertising a local kids’ sports team. Team USA is just one website that would work well for informational text reading about the 2016 Summer Olympics, and there are lots of others out there. Next week, my plan is to follow up on my own website, Classroom in the Middle, with information about another good source and more language arts activities that could be done with that source in your classroom.
Guest post by Sharon from the Classroom in the Middle blog. Sharon has spent over 20 years teaching English, reading, and other subjects to middle school students. She loves having more time now to create and write about resources for teachers – especially materials for teaching reading, vocabulary, and writing to students in grades 4 through 8. Here is the link to her store, also called Classroom in the Middle.