Olympic fever in the classroom

peter and liza

Liza Frenette with her Olympian nephew, Peter. Photo provided.

I just can’t help myself. I have to watch.

All that fun in the snow, all that glory, all that agony. Yes, it’s the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and there is so much to learn from it, long after the Games are over. I am right there (on the couch) cheering, yelling, screaming, night after night. Go, Go, GO! GO! FASTER! GO! You deserve this!

I’ve been riveted since the amazing Opening Ceremonies, and will remain dedicated to the closing ceremonies this Sunday night.

Mostly I cheer for the USA competitors because I’m American and I support TEAM USA. Also, I’m from the Adirondacks, which has served up quite a few standout competitors. And, full disclosure here, I have a nephew —Peter Frenette — who just competed in ski jumping on the 95 meter (normal hill) and 125 meter (large hill) ski jumps. (Peter ‘s father — my brother — is also named Peter and is a teacher in Saranac Lake and a proud member of the Saranac Lake Teachers Association. His colleagues surprised him with a donation to help him travel to Sochi to watch his son compete.) We are quite proud of Peter for making the Olympic team, and it is surreal to see his face on the big screen and to hear him announced.

I cheer the loudest for the many competitors from my neck of the woods. And I cheered hard even before the Olympics, when I learned that (finally) there was to a women’s ski jumping competition in the Olympics. But I also celebrate victories and triumphs of athletes from other countries who just amaze me with their skill and determination. They push their prowesss to great lengths. It is a marvel to watch twists and turns of skiers upside in the air, against the night sky, snowflakes falling everywhere. It is wonderful to hear the stories of the bobsledders and the snowboarders who have overcome defeat and injury to return to try again. It is enriching to see the Russian dancers in the Olympic Village, and learn about their culture in stories aired each night. I found fascinating a story about how the colorful and intricate wooden matryoshka dolls are made and painted by hand in this country, and what they mean to the economy.

That is the real story of the Olympics, I believe. The stories behind the story. The little villages we never heard of until now. The people who took on great challenges to get to the Games. How the venues were built. These all hold potent stories.

And there are many lessons the Games bring us as well. Turn to the AFT’s Share My Lesson to learn how to use the Olympic competition to study the science of ice; the physics of slope-style skiing; or the Ancient Greeks and the Olympic Games. Consider activities on the site that can be used to hold an Olympics in an elementary physical education class. Learn about the materials in the gold, silver and bronze medals. While watching the Olympics, I learned that Olympic athletes who won an event on the one-year Feb. 15 anniversary of an asteroid crashing into Russia will soon be presented with a medallion containing pieces of the meteor. Now, there’s a lesson plan waiting to happen if I ever saw one.

Tags: , , , ,

No comments yet.

Post Comment