With the stress of state testing this past week, I decided it would be a great time to introduce a high interest themed unit all about the Winter Olympics. The kids have absolutely loved it so far and have done tons of research, reading, geography, and social learning without even realizing it. So far my students have learned about the history of the Olympics, the torch relay, Opening Ceremony, Olympic Village, winter sports, and Olympic creed and motto. To say they were excited for the Opening Ceremonies on Friday would be an understatement. They have been so inspired that they are begging me to put on our own class Olympics (little do they know that is already in the works).
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In our district, 6th grade is still in the elementary school, so the mid-winter push is always interesting with kids trying to define their behavior as the "Kings and Queens" of the school. Although I have an excellent class of just 32 this year, they have been a little chatty recently. With the introduction of this unti I have them working in teams to correct each other's behavior, while working together to earn medals for their country. Each table group has become a country that is competing in the Winter Olympics. They had to design their country's flag and do some general research on their country. This will soon be followed by a larger research project and paper that addresses the CCSS.
Students also work together as a team to earn "medals" for their country. When we transition throughout the day, countries get "gold, silver, and bronze" medals for being first, second, and third to be ready. Groups can also earn medals for completing homework, or participating in math discussions, etc. So far the behavior has been amazing! Even when it started snowing and sticking- which rarely happens in Oregon- the kids were on task and working away.
We are having a great time and I'm looking forward to adding more math, geography, reading, writing, and of course fun into our lessons! If you have any other great ideas that you've used in your classroom please let me know- I love hearing new ideas. Enjoy!
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