Celebrating the Olympics with Class Awards

Megan Howe
Megan Howe
16 Aug 16
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Hey there teachers! How’s your summer so far? I am trying to fit in some last minute R&R before my days slip away.

It always seems like a missed opportunity to me that the Summer Olympics don’t coincide with school days. There are so many learning moments to take away from world’s greatest sporting competition. I imagine statistics to go along with world records, determining the probability of a country winning a sporting event, Social Studies and Science connections to the Olympic’s impact on a host country. This year the Olympics are begging to be studied as athletes and residents think about the Zika virus, the use of steroids, and so much more.

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Alas, we will have to suffer through the last days of summer without the connections just begging to be made in conjunction with the Olympics! However, that doesn’t mean the spirit of the Summer Olympics is completely lost. Here are some ways my school has incorporated healthy competition and celebrations in our year.

Staff Retreat
This summer, even though students will be lounging on beaches, our staff will return to school while the Olympics are in full session. Every year we plan a back to school staff retreat. In the past we have held an Amazing Race style competition and group sports. This year we will hold our own staff Olympics. Teachers will work in teams to complete relays such as group skiing, team sports such as beach ball volleyball, and brain puzzlers. Teachers will rotate through seven stations in small groups. At the end, we will hold an award ceremony and teams will present a group cheer.

Class Awards
As a classroom teacher, I tend to shy away from rewards systems. However, the past three years I have worked as a special education teacher in an inclusion classroom. I know that rewards can have a place in the life of a student who needs support to find intrinsic motivation. But what about awards? Where do they fall? Does your school give honor roll awards? Mine does, but we also want to honor the unique qualities of each student. Just like the Olympics gives an award to the #1 place in each sport, we give an award to each student for being #1 in their own way. What does this look like? Well, we give out what we call “Paper Plate” Awards at the end of the year. My co-teachers and I get together and decide in which way each student is #1. Then we design an award especially for that student. (Think Senior Superlatives from high school.) Some of my favorite awards include: Biggest Dreamer, Best at Making Funny Accents, Most Amazing Freckles, and Most Likely to Appear in a Macklemore Video.

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What about you? Have you incorporated the Summer Olympics, or the spirit of the Olympics, in some way? Are you one of those lucky ducks in a year-round school and you can coordinate learning with the Olympics as they happen?

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