Olympian encourages interest and pride in students' lesson

By Erica Quednau | equednau@wcia.com

Published 01/31 2014 04:53PM

Updated 02/10 2014 01:15PM

Update: 10:20 pm, 2/9/14, Sunday
DECATUR -- Even though the Winter Games have only been on a week, an area class has been celebrating them for awhile. WCIA-3's Erica Quednau shows us how the games are being used as a teaching tool.

In 6th grade, you were probably learning about math, reading and science. But, at John's Hill, this lesson plan includes the Winter Games.

"We had an idea that we could create a unit surrounding the Olympics."

Students are studying the different countries which compete by playing different roles, like geographer, historian or fashion designer.

"My country is Japan and my role is, I'm a musician and dancer. I chose musician and dancer."

But, learning about their specific country isn't the goal.

"Really, it's not about what they take away from it and learn. It's about connecting to something so big and getting them interested in it. Just taking pride in their work and what they're doing and loving school."

An idea which was reiterated when a former Olympian came to speak to the class.

"It's the sport you're involved in. But, there's all these pieces that come in to make you a fully, conditioned athlete and you do them and you do them daily."

Erik Henrikson competed in speed skating and won three medals during his career.

"It's unbelievable. It's really, really cool. It was really cool and I liked whenever he showed the videos of him and his friends and how he talked about what he did."

It's a unit that's getting everyone more excited about the games.

"I love watching the Olympics."

"I don't know, but I'm going to pay a little bit more attention to speed skating."

The teacher says the kids loved the unit so much, they even worked on their assignments during all the recent snow days. They would email her on days off and ask questions about what they should do.
Original: 4:53 pm, 1/31/14, Friday
DECATUR -- The Olympics are starting early for some students. Friday, Olympian Erik Henriksen visited Johns Hill School. The 6th graders are learning about the Olympics in class.

Students are researching different countries competing. It's all about getting interested in the games and taking pride in their own work. It's something the former speed skater can relate to.

Henriksen won three medals for speed skating. He grew up in Champaign and learned to skate at UI.

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