January 17, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

15 Tech Tidbits To Bring the 2018 Winter Olympic Into Your Classroom

Winter 2018 Olympics logoThe 2018 Winter Olympic Games premiere in South Korea for 18 days starting February 8 and ending February 25. Almost 3,000 athletes will gather to compete from over 90 countries in seven sports, including skating, skiing, bobsled, biathlon, curling, ice hockey, and luge. Over 102 medals are up for grabs, which is the most ever in Winter Olympic history.

Educators have a terrific opportunity to expand their students’ learning, and librarians can play a key role in research and support of classrooms during the Olympics. These games provide excellent moments to teach students about many subjects, including history, science, physical education, and social studies.

Even though the 2018 Olympics are proving to be more inclusive, hosting the highest number of female athletes and mixed events in Winter Games History, there can be many challenges for athletes that your students can study and evaluate.

For example, rock star librarian Alan Barbee collaboratively created a social studies unit for his middle school students that dealt with how religious beliefs may impact a person’s ability to play sports. His students had deep discussions after reading articles about high school and sport hijabs in The Washington Post and other pieces on Olympic figure skater Zahra Lari, who broke barriers wearing a hijab while skating but had points deducted from her score because judges considered her head covering a costume prop.

Science teachers have a plethora of resources like Science 360 videos that teach everything from physics of skiing to the transfer of kinetic energy using the sport of curling. Energy efficiency in Olympic venue buildings can be studied in resources that explain how the architectural design helps to maintain temperatures and the integrity of the ice.

Wondering how you and your students can watch the events? For the first time, this year’s Olympic Games will be broadcast and streamed LIVE in all times zones by NBCOlympics.com. The videos will also be available on the NBC Sports app for Android and iPhone. Both NBC and CBSsports will provide educators the opportunity to use archived resources, which include athlete profiles and specific stories and updates in their classrooms.

Don’t forget about social media! Olympians will be posting on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag  #PyeongChang2018 or you can simply follow via #WinterOlympics, TeamUSA, or through your favorite athlete. They must adhere to Olympics social media guidelines throughout the games, which could prove to be a great segue into a discussion on Internet safety.

Specific lesson plans are beginning to appear online and will no doubt be more accessible closer to the opening ceremonies from sites like Education World and Readwritethink, and of course the fabulous Teachers Pay Teachers site. Savvy educators have created solid resources using the historic Olympic.MU site and even the Team USA YouTube site.

Students may have special interest in the events new to the Olympics this year, including the Snowboarding Big Air, which promises lots of spectacular aerial stunts, mixed doubles curling, team alpine skiing, and the incredible mass start speed skating. Students and teachers alike may also enjoy learning about unique aspects of the Olympics like the Nigerian women’s bobsled team.

And don’t forget that after all this fun, PyeongChang, South Korea, will host the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games from March 9–18.

So many things to explore and discover! Whether you incorporate a math lesson about kilometers to events from the Olympic village or just lovable white tiger Olympic Mascot named Soohorang, we hope you and your students enjoy the competition and dream big.

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Phil Goerner About Phil Goerner

Phil Goerner is the teacher librarian and tech innovator at Silver Creek High School in Longmont, CO. He can be found on Twitter @pgoerner. Phil is also an adjunct professor with University of Colorado at Denver in the School Library and Instructional Leadership program.

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