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For the next two weeks, political differences will be set aside for patriotic unity. We cheer as formerly unknown athletes become household names in their quest for gold, and we are crushed when they fall short. We are glued to our TVs for the qualifying rounds of luge, curling, and the biathlon.  Have we ever watched these sports before?  No! Do we even understand the rules?  Of course not! But that’s not the point.  These are Americans who are living out their dreams right in front of our eyes. There may be no greater unifying sporting event than these Olympics.

 

With an event so magnanimous and contagious, it seems only natural to bring your students along for the ride.  Here are five digital tools you can use to bring the Olympics into your classroom, and ignite learning through this inspiring, history-making event.

 

  1. Become the Broadcaster

A great broadcaster brings the sporting event to life.  By adding context to the drama with a compelling backstory and simultaneously living in the drama of the moment, a great broadcaster makes all the difference.  Now your students can be that broadcaster!  Have your students choose their favorite replay from this year’s Olympics, and then use the built-in video editing software on their devices.  For Macs/iPads, use iMovie, and for Windows, use Movie Maker.  This is a simple and creative way to help your students engage in the Olympics like never before!

 

  1. The Physics Behind the Sports

We marvel at the speed and precision of Olympic athletes.  From racing down an Alpine skiing course to landing a perfect triple axel (go Miria Nagasu!), it’s hard to fathom the difficulty of such feats.  Now, you can help your students understand the science behind the sport using these New York Times interactive videos:

Figure Skating (augmented reality)

Giant Slalom

Snowboard Slopestyle (augmented reality)

Ice Hockey (augmented reality)

Luge

Short-Track Speed Skating (augmented reality)

Ski Jumping

 

Take it a step further, and have your students calculate what physics would be required to add an additional rotation, or to increase speed.

 

  1. Understanding North and South Korea

Tension between North and South Korea sharply escalated recently in the midst of missile launches and political uncertainty.  But then the Olympics approached, and the tone seemed to immediately subdue.  Athletes from North and South Korea marched under one flag, united to field a joint women’s hockey team, and whose leaders are now meeting to engage in preliminary peace negotiations.  Do the 2018 Winter Olympics offer a chance to ease tension in the divided Korean Peninsula?

 

Have your students watch the video “Can the Olympics Bring the Koreas Together?” and read the related New York Times article.  Then have them write or discuss: Will the 2018 Winter Olympics be a turning point in the relationship between North and South Korea?  Can sports actually promote peace? Consider using Padlet to give students a chance to share their responses.  This digital bulletin board tool will create opportunities for deeper in-class discussions.

 

  1. The Presentation of the Countries

The opening ceremonies are a magnificent display of unity and grandeur.  With over 90 countries taking part in this year’s Olympic Games, it offers a great opportunity for your students to explore other countries like never before!  Have them select a participating country and research that country’s current performance.  They can find relevant news articles, athlete bios, and up-to-date medal counts by visiting the official PyeongChang 2018 Games News Page.   Then, have your own opening ceremony!  Have your students create a Google Slides presentation of their country that incorporates all of their research. Want to take it to the next level? Instead of separate Slide presentations, create one collaborative Slide and share it with the class. Each student has one slide to highlight their country and you end up with a fabulous example of student choice creation. This exercise encourages thoughtful presentation skills and removes the “fluff”!

 

  1. Design Your Athlete

The Olympics are more than just an athletic competition. They also serve as a fashion runway!  The opening and closing ceremonies offer the top fashion designers in the world an opportunity to showcase their talents through the athletes’ apparel. Have your students use the Sketch.IO app to design their own sportswear for this year’s Olympic games.  Concerned this it too gender specific? You can also have your students use this app to create their own country!  Design an original flag and have them create a backstory for a country that is all their own.  Where are they located?  What is their climate?  Population?  Best sport? Allow your students to share their creations with the class and create your own Olympic competition for the best new design!

 

Did you implement the Olympics into your classroom? Share your story with us @edvergent and #iTeachDigital!

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