Monday, January 27, 2014


There are 3 different colors of medals:

People take turns carrying the torch from the place the Olympics was last held to the place it's going to be. On the very first day of the  Olympics they have a celebration called opening ceremonies. At the opening ceremonies the person with the torch runs into the stadium , they use the torch to light a bigger torch and that fire burns for all the days  of the Olympics. The people competing in the events all wear numbers on their chest and back so the judges and audience know who they are.  The people that participate represent their country they are from  by either carrying a huge flag or having a smaller one on their clothes that they wear.  They feel very proud to be there because they worked very hard to get there. At the end of the Olympics they have another celebration called the closing ceremonies.  When the people win first second and third they get to stand on a podium.   The person that won first place gets their national anthem played for everyone to hear. It is a very proud moment.  Everything gets to be on tv so people from all around the world can see.  


Friday, January 24, 2014

Olympics Stuff

6000  athletes will compete
85 countries will be competing in 15 different sports for the  Olympics
There are 89 different events.
Twin sister Tracy Barnes gave up her Olympics spot for her sister Laay because she was sick.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Information about the Olympics

Russia is a big country.

Sochi is 10 hours ahead of us.

Plane tickets cost $5000 to $7000.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Olympics Project: Art

Right from the project launch, there has been great potential for our Olympics project to address a number of subject areas.  One of the first things students suggested was Olympics-themed art, so I was pleased to provide some opportunities this week for students to create art projects that linked to their learning.  After we learned about the Olympic rings and Olympic flag earlier in the week, students came up with the idea of creating art featuring the rings.  Other students really wanted to focus on pictures that showed the different sports they have been learning about.  I looked for a few different Olympic-themed art ideas as well and shared them with my class.  On Friday, students selected an Olympics-themed art project that they wanted to complete.  Some students made Olympic flags, others painted the Olympic rings and some colored pictures depicting the different events.

We photographed our art projects because of an idea the students had come up with on our second Skype call this week.  After sharing our research findings with the Kindergartens and hearing about their research, we decided it would be nice to do something for our Olympic athletes.  Students came up with the ideas of sending letters, pictures/art, small gifts or cards.  We talked about the idea of postcards to combine their desire to send both pictures and messages.  The Kindergartens had used Autocollage to make cards for the seniors in their community, so they suggested we use that tool to make an interesting collage for the front of our postcards.  (Teachers can download AutoCollage for free at if you'd like to try out the tool.)  Now we've got some great pictures to use and we are looking forward to the next step of making our first Autocollage with the Kindergartens!

To make painted Olympic rings:  dip styrofoam cups in different colors of paint to make each ring

Coloring pages available at:

To make flags (totally student-designed - I gave them no instructions on this because they had their own plans!):  draw the rings on white paper and attach to a straw

Friday, January 17, 2014

Olympics Project: The Momentum Continues!

As I explained in my most recent post, my students and their families have really taken ownership of our Olympics project and they have been working on research at home.  More students came this morning with information to create their own blog posts! (You can view the latest student post here.)  I am looking forward to helping students share their learning and their enthusiasm for this project is really motivating for me!

In addition to all the great homework going on this week, we have also been working on research at school.  One of the students' inquiry questions was What sports are part of the Olympics?.  Using Excel, I designed a simple template for students to record their findings. (You can get the Excel editable version here or PDF version here).  Then, I added a link to the website to our Symbaloo home page.  (Symbaloo is a bookmarking site which I've found to be very kid-friendly. I use it to organize links that I want students to be able to access quickly, easily and independently!)

Working in pairs or groups of 3, students have been constructing knowledge of the Olympic sports.  By watching videos and viewing pictures on the sports pages, students are developing an understanding of each sport.  They are working together to record their findings using pictures and words.  They've been very engaged in their research so far, so my main roles have been: praising good work, giving research suggestions, providing "tech support", "listening in" to their conversations about each sport and asking questions to determine their understanding or to help them clarify their ideas.  It's been really fun to learn along with my students!  For example, we've talked about the difference between skeleton and luge (which I'd never really thought about before) and I learned what the biathlon event included while working with another group.

2014 Winter Olympics

  • in Sochi, Russia
  • February 7-23
  • some events are hockey, figure skating, ski jumping, snowboarding

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Olympics Project is taking off!

Our Olympics project is off to a strong start! Yesterday morning, I had planned a "normal" morning of mini-lessons, Daily 5 English Language Arts, guided reading groups and student conferencing.   As we gathered at the carpet for our first mini-lesson, one of my students announced that he "had to get something" and quickly returned with a note paper full of information about the Olympics.  The student explained that he had talked to his Dad about the Olympics and found out lots of facts for our research.  I was so excited that a student (and his family) had taken ownership of the project so quickly!  I decided that my plan for the morning might not be the best plan given the great learning opportunity that had just come up, so I asked my students to vote on whether they felt we should focus on Olympic mini-lessons for the morning.  Of course, they were excited to dive into this new information, so nearly all students voted to change our morning plans.  (Being flexible with my plan for the day is an important thing I've learned to do, which I think makes me a better teacher.) 

So instead of delivering my carefully planned lesson (intended to launch our text type study on persuasive texts), I went with the students' momentum and excitement.  I put my plan away for another day and delved into the Olympics information that they were so excited to work with!  We read through the information and students decided the facts should be shared as part of our Olympics inquiry. 

I'm not sure how the topic came up, but we decided that students should have their own blog account to post from so that it shows THEY are posting rather than ME.  I told the students that we'd make a blog account for the class, but then stopped when I realized they didn't have an email address to use.  As I started to explain to my class why our plan wouldn't work, they simply said "let's get our own email account".  (Sometimes they are faster problem solvers than I am!)  With that, we were rolling again.  After creating an email address and blogging account, my students are officially guest bloggers on this blog and the Little Hands Extended blog I write with Mrs. Caldwell. 

A group of students worked together to type their first blog post, using the information their classmate brought.  They insisted on working on it at every opportunity, but didn't quite get finished.  I reassured them that they could continue their work, so they were eager to get started this morning!  Another student had gone home last night and worked with her family to find out more about the Olympics, so she also started her own blog post today.  I am really proud of these contributions to the blog because they demonstrate so many positive qualities in my students and their families: engagement in learning, teamwork, motivation to learn, ownership of learning, shared responsibility (just to name a few!)

I think these initial experiences demonstrate the value of project based learning (again!) and also illustrate the supportive community surrounding us.  Thank you so much to the families and community members that support the young learners in my class!  These kids are learning so much and developing so many important skills and values.  Your contributions are very important! 

Olympics Learning

Nations participating- 88
Athletes participating – 2500 estimated
Opening ceremony – February 7, 2014
Closing ceremony – February 23, 2014
Stadium – Fisht Olympic Stadium


Olympic Facts

Is there a summer Olympics?
Yes. There are summer and winter Olympics.

Other information:
The winter Olympics happen every 4 years.
The winter Olympics were held in Vancouver, British Columbia 4 years ago.
This year’s  winter Olympics are held in Sochi, Russia.
Medals are  given to the top 3 finalists of each sport.
The medals are bronze for 3rd place, silver for  second place, and gold for 1st place. The last Olympic gold medal for hockey was won by CANADA when Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored in overtime to beat the United States!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Olympics Project: Modeling Internet Research & Encouraging Digital Citizenship

My hardworking and curious group of Grade 1s has jumped on board for our Olympics learning project.  After our Skype call launch with the OLCS Kindergartens on Tuesday, our class did some research together to answer two of their inquiry questions.  This allowed me to model some basic research.  Students suggested we use the internet to find information, so I modeled a web search and read aloud information from a relevant website.  After listening, some rereading and discussion, students were ready to answer the two questions.

We wrote our answers together; students explained their understandings and I typed for them.  Next, we discussed the importance of verifying information to ensure that it is correct.  Students identified that "not everything on the internet is true" (I thought it was great that they knew this!), so we checked our information by using another website.  Then, we also discussed the importance of sourcing since we'd used other people's ideas and information to help us learn.  We included the websites we'd used in our post to show that we had learned from those sites.

It was one short activity, but deliberate teaching allowed me to address a number of important topics and skills:
  • digital citizenship: giving credit to our sources when we learn from others
  • Olympics inquiry: we answered questions that they students had generated for this project
  • shared writing: working together, we wrote sentences that clearly communicated our answers
  • research skills: verifying information, searching online, using visual and text information

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Olympics Research

 We had lots of questions about the Olympics.  Here are some of our questions and answers. 

What are the circles on fire that we saw in the video?  
They are the Olympic rings on fire. 

What are the Olympic rings?
They are a symbol for the Olympics.  A symbol is something that stand for something else or makes us think of something else. 

They are black, blue, red, green and yellow rings that are attached.
There are 5 rings to show 5 different parts of the world that people come from. 
The rings are attached because all of the countries come together for a big celebration called the Olympics. 
The ring colors are for every country's flag.

We used websites to find these answers:

Olympics Inquiry

We are working with our friends in OLCS Kindergarten to learn about the Olympics.  This morning, we had a Skype call with Mrs. Caldwell and her class.  I explained to the boys and girls that a big event is happening in the world this winter, but did not tell them what special event I was talking about.  Before watching this video, Mrs.Caldwell and I asked our students to be detectives and look for clues in the video about what the big event might be.  After watching the video, a student correctly guessed that the big event is the Olympics.

Many of us did not know very much about the Olympics, so we shared our ideas and then students came up with some inquiry questions.  We made an agreement to share responsibility for finding answers to our questions.  Each class chose questions to focus on.  It will be our job to find answers to some of our initial questions and post them to our blog so the Kindergartens and other classes can also learn what we found out. The Kindergartens will also find answers to some of the questions and, in turn, post their learning for us to see.  Students also requested that we share our learning on Twitter, but, since Tweets have to be very short, students decided that we would write our answers on the blog and share the blog posts via Twitter. 

We discussed some possible sources for information and students came up with the ideas of using books, internet and people to help them learn about the Olympics.  We are excited to get started!

Watch for more posts once the Grade 1s start sharing their learning!  Classrooms, teachers, parents and community members - please feel free to join us in learning about the Olympics and share what you know, sources of information or your own learning. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

We're Back!

We all had really good Christmas holidays.  Now we're back to school and having fun!  Today, we did 11 for number of the day.  Here is our work: