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Barb's Olympic Adventure Continues
Posting 5: Watching Events

Curriculum CenterBarbara Taddeo, a middle school special education teacher in San Mateo, California, is in Australia! While at the Summer Olympics, Taddeo will share with Education World readers her experiences and observations as a volunteer at the Games in Sydney. Plus she'll offer lessons to help Education World readers use the Olympic Games in their classrooms! Follow Taddeo's journey through her reports from Sydney!


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The Aussies have thought of everything -- they even started their Daylight Savings Time one month earlier then usual just for the Olympics!

The Olympics are in full swing now. The Games are broadcast 24 hours a day here. The largest group of athletes comes from Australia; the second largest group comes from the United States.

It has been interesting being in a different country, watching and taking part in this wonderful event. I hope everyone enjoyed the opening ceremony; it may have been difficult for you to understand parts of the program without my explanation ( Posting 3).

September 17 was a glorious spring Sunday. The weather was clear and the temperature was 29 degrees Celsius (about 84 degrees Fahrenheit). The remainder of the dressage horses participated in the three-day event. All four team members of the United State team did well. We are presently in third place; the Australia team is ahead of us.

On Monday, September 18, the cross-country phase of the event will take place. The United States equestrian team usually performs well in this segment. The Europeans are usually the best in the dressage events. The Australians and Americans are the best in cross-country and show jumping. It will be interesting to see if the United States team will be able to move up in the standings.

On Saturday, September 16, the Australians dominated in the swimming pool. Swimmer Ian Thorpe is a national hero here. He broke the world record with his swim. Ian wears a size 18 shoe, so everyone here says he was born with swim fins! Watch him this week as he competes in several swimming events. The United States swimmers are doing well in the qualifying meets also, so keep track of their scores

Teachers: Keep a chart in your classroom and turn the swimming scores into a math lesson. Swimming and track scores are an excellent way to teach decimals. Please explain that the scoring is done in hundredths of a second. Talk about how much a hundredth of a second might be and about how to read those scores. Please note that track and field events are called Athletics here.

Sydney television shows many different sports. On Sunday, I watched the bicycle races at the veledrome.A veledrome is a wood track that is slanted upward. In this country, bicycle racing is called track cycling.It is an exciting sport to watch because the cyclists go so fast.

The shooting and mountain biking venues are very close to the horse park. I watched both events. The mountain bikers practice on the practice track. They are not allowed on the real track until the day of the event. The shooting events I saw were interesting. This is a sport that requires patience and accuracy. The spectators must remain very quiet. It is said that the marksman must remain so still that they are able to slow their heart and pulse down!

Sunday, September 17 was also the men's triathlon. The athletes participating in this event must first swim 1.5 kilometers (about 0.9 of a mile). After leaving the water, they are required to bike 40km (about 25 miles) and then complete a 10-kilometer run (about 6 miles). The race went off without a hitch. Divers were in the water to help ensure the safety of the swimmers; they were on the lookout for sharks! If a shark had been sighted, they would have warned the swimmers.

This is just a thumbnail sketch of what goes on during the Olympics.

Teachers: Australians have some unique expressions! You might set up a classroom contest. Let students work individually or in small groups to guess the meanings of the following expressions. How many can the students correctly guess?
  • You are talking flat out like a lizard drinking. (Meaning: You are talking too much.)
  • Strong as a Mallee bull. (Meaning: Fit as a fiddle.)
  • Out back and beyond. (Meaning: A long way away.)
  • Back of the black stump. (Meaning: You are a long way away.)
  • Jaffle. (Meaning: Grilled cheese sandwich.)

You might also use this activity to get your students talking about the phrases they use everyday and the meanings of those phrases.

Barbara Taddeo has created these activities for the students of three schools -- but she has been kind enough to agree to share her daily reports with Education World's readers. We're pleased to be included in these daily mailings to the students in Taddeo's 7th grade class in Room 31 at Borel Middle School in San Mateo, California; Mrs. Hirschmann's class at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Turersville, New Jersey; and Lacey Rhoades' class in Mesa, Arizona.

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Barbara Taddeo
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09/18/2000