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Winter Olympics 2014

As the world’s attention is on the XXII Olympics Games being held in Sochi, Russia we are teaching our students the meaning behind the Olympics as well as the day in the life of an average Russian student in Media and Global Studies respectively. Individual classrooms are using Googledoc spreadsheets to do a medal count throughout the 17 weeks of competition of the country their classroom is studying. Utilizing Time For Kids teachers have had students research many of the winter sports being competed in the winter Olympics for a better understanding of the rules, equipment, and how to compete.

In media students learned that the ancient Olympic Games were first held in Olympia Greece in 296 B.C. and that only free men who spoke Greek were allowed to participate. Women were not allowed to compete and married women were not allowed to attend the games. The girls of Rocky River were angered by this discrimination and voiced their opinions on how this was wrong. Students learned that the Winter Olympic Games were first held in France in 1924 and that they occur every 4 years. Students were surprised to learn that this year there are 84 countries with 5,500 athletes participating in the Olympic games.

Rocky River is embracing the Leader In Me and connecting the 7 Habits both at school and at home. Students were asked to think about the 7 Habits and how Olympic athletes have also used these habits in their journey to the Olympics. Students were asked to provide characteristics of an Olympic athlete as well as to consider their training regimen. A video of the freestyle skiing from the2010 Vancouver, Canada Olympics provided a visual on the discipline and determination that an Olympian must have in order to reach their goal of a gold medal.

In Global Studies Mrs. Todd had the students compare Russian life to life in the United States. Students first looked at how the geography and climate compared and then at culture differences and similarities. The climate varies and includes Arctic tundra in the north, sub-Arctic forestland in eastern Asia, desert in central Asia and a temperate and humid region in Europe. It can be 90 degrees F in summer to -25 degrees F in winter near Moscow. It starts snowing in October through April so there is a long winter. Different areas of the US have extreme temperature and climate differences also. Both areas have mountains, coast and flat areas/plains. They dress similar to Europeans and Americans but also have to dress very warm in the long winters. Organized sports play an important part in the daily life of most Russian citizens. Ice skating is one of Russia’s most important competitive sports. Football (soccer), Ice hockey, Track and Field, Tennis, Gymnastics, Volleyball and Basketball are also popular. Students had the opportunity to discuss whether Russian climate and organized sports would influence how well they would do at the Olympics.

Family lives involves about three-quarters of Russian families living in small city apartments. The kids fold up their beds each morning so the space can be used for other things during the day. Some families also have a country cottage, which is called a dacha. In Russia, grandmothers—babushkas—are famous for the strong role they play in families, public life and fairy tales. It’s not uncommon for three generations to live in the same house. There are not many cars in Russia as most students and adults, walk, ride bikes or use public transportation. Students were able to compare and contrast their lives to a Russian child’s life during the movie and discussions in order to better understand the culture in Russia.

Some culture differences and similarities are they shake hands firmly when meeting someone although women prefer not to. They may kiss family and friends on the cheek. Pointing with the index finger is commonly practiced, but is considered impolite. It is also impolite to talk with one’s arms folded or with hands in their pockets. Russians have special rituals for greeting guests. It is considered bad luck to greet a guest while standing in the doorway of the house. The guest must come inside or the host must go outside. We discussed the importance of understanding another countries culture before you visit there as there will be visitors from many countries and cultures participating in the Olympics.

Written by: Heather Shulman and Brenda Todd
Posted: Feb 10, 2014 by Heather Shulman

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