The Olympic Athlete: A Gold-Medal Writing Project (page 2)

The Olympic Athlete: A Gold-Medal Writing Project

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Updated on Jan 28, 2010

Step 3 Now it's time to for your child to gather her raw data and put it into an organized format. Tell your child not to think of this as an essay assignment. Instead, have her pretend that the New York Times has asked her to write a feature story about a particular athlete with an interesting backstory .

In fact, you may want to show your child a few samples of these types of biographical articles to give her a sense of their style and structure. Point out to your child how they usually begin with an interesting factoid about the individual to grab the reader's attention: "When Lopez Lomong started his running career as a young boy, it wasn't for sports. It was for survival." Give your child a few tries at finding just the right leading sentence, or "lead" as it's called in the writing business--what do you think is the most remarkable thing about this person's life, and how would you explain that to a friend?

The second sentence should provide the nuts and bolts of the story: "Lomong, who will run the 1,500 meter race at the Beijing Olympics this summer, was orphaned as a young boy and spent 10 years in a refugee camp in Kenya before becoming a United States citizen in 2007." In the paragraphs that follow, encourage your child to take her reader through the athlete's history from start to finish, incorporating the information she gathered from before, and ensuring that each sentence she writes links clearly to the next.

In the final paragraphs, your child should bring her reader up to speed with a report on the athlete's current performance and thoughts heading into the games: "Now, after years of hardship, Lomong says his dreams are finally come true. And this time, he's running for fun."

Step 4 Ask your child to revise her piece, checking to be sure that her sentences and paragraphs flow well from one to the other, that her grammar and spelling are intact, and that, most importantly, the information that she presents is interesting and fun to read! When finished, print it out along with a picture of the athlete and hang in proudly in your home. This project will give your child a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Olympic spirit, as she watches these true stories unfold.

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