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Barb's Olympic Adventure ContinuesPreparing for the Olympic Games

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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Welcome to what I hope will be a wonderful adventure to Australia and the Olympic Games. During this series, I will be reporting about athletes, coaches, various sports, and the country of Australia (AU).

To get the most out of this series, hang a world map in your classroom and refer to it often. I will be mentioning different countries and incorporating their cultures and traditions into my reports. I will also provide discussion activities and other information, which I hope will spark student interest.

Many of your classrooms today are mini "melting pots" -- filled with students from different countries. Those students can bring so much wonderful information to your classroom discussion of the Olympic Games. I hope this project will help instill national pride and recognize each student as a special individual. The Olympic spirit is one that you can carry throughout the entire year!

Have students start portfolios to document the entire Olympic experience. The first page of each portfolio should list

  • the student's name,
  • the meaning of his or her last name,
  • the birthplace of the student, and
  • the student's nationality (if different from the birthplace).

Leave plenty of room so that students can list the nationalities of the members of their families. So many times the student who is a first generation U.S. citizen or is foreign born feels overwhelmed or smothered by the new culture around them. This is an excellent opportunity for that student to shine in front of the other students in the class. It is also an excellent way for other students to connect with fellow classmates from similar backgrounds and cultures.

After students start their portfolios, have them locate their birthplaces and countries of origin on a world map. Use little colored dots or pushpins on the map to show where the students' families come from.

Next, have the students pick one of the countries in their backgrounds; if you have several students from the same country, have them select different countries. Have each student follow his or her chosen country throughout the Olympic Games. Students should include in their portfolios a picture of the flag (or, if possible, an actual flag) for their chosen country. Challenge students to write reports about their countries to include in their portfolios. Among the questions students might answer in their reports are the following:

  1. Where is the country located?
  2. What are the longitude and latitude coordinates of the country?
  3. What is the climate like?
  4. What is the topography like?
  5. What are the people like? What type of clothing do the people wear? Do you wear similar or different clothing?
  6. What food do the people eat? Is the food similar or different than the foods you eat everyday? (You can have a potluck as part of a celebration of learning at the end of this project.)
  7. If you were to visit that country, what would you like to visit?
  8. What fads are popular among the kids in that country? What kinds of music are they listening to?
  9. What sports do the kids in the country like to play or watch? Those are just a few of the questions your students might answer in their reports. I will be adding new questions as the series continues.


A good resource for students to use in putting together their reports is the Embassy of Australia Web site. Click on the "For Kids" section. (I will refer to this web site in future messages.)

As the Olympic Games continue, have students follow the Games in local newspapers or on the Internet. (They can follow the games on the Official Site of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.) Students can add to their portfolios Olympic clippings that relate to their country of interest.

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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