Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan:
Beyond the Playing Field -
Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate
Teaching Activities: Character Education
This lesson correlates to the National Standards for United States History:
- Era 9, standard 4: The struggle for racial and gender equality and for the
extension of civil liberties
- Standards in Historical Thinking 3: Historical Analysis and Interpretation
- Standards in Historical Thinking 4: Historical Research Capabilities
- Standards in Historical Thinking 5: Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-making
One to two class periods
To analyze the content and tone of historical documents and determine which attributes of Jackie Robinson's character contributed to his success as the baseball player who broke the color barrier and as a political activist.
- Documents 1 - 9
- Two large pieces of butcher paper
- Divide the class in half. Ask one group to brainstorm a list of character attributes they think a political activist must possess. Ask one student to record the list on a sheet of butcher paper.
- Ask the other group to brainstorm a list of character attributes they think the first black man to play major league professional baseball would have possessed. Ask one student to record the list on a sheet of butcher paper.
- Post both lists, and conduct a brief class discussion on the lists' similarities and differences.
- Ask students to analyze document 1 (either by reading their own copy or by listening to a fellow student read or describe it), paying particular attention to the attributes of Robinson's character that it reveals.
- Review the character attributes listed by students and ask which, if any, of the attributes are revealed in this document. Place a check mark next to that (those) attribute(s).
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the remaining documents.
- Ask students to refer to the lists and documents and write a single paragraph response to the question, "Which attributes of Jackie Robinson's character contributed to his success as the baseball player who broke the color barrier and as a political activist?"
Encourage students to search library resources to find adjectives that describe Robinson's character. Direct students to add any new or different traits they find to the class list.