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What’s Important About the Negro Baseball Leagues? Synthesizing Information into a Pattern Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-WCP0216
Submitted by: Jeanne Guthrie
Email: rjguthrie@kc.rr.com
School/University/Affiliation: Retired Teacher
Date: February 2, 2003

Grade Level: 3, 4, 5


  • Language Arts/Writing
  • Social Studies/US History

Duration: 4 class sessions

Description: While students can name many baseball players of today, few realize the segregation African American players of the early 1900’s experienced or how many of today’s players would be excluded if laws and attitudes had not changed. Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Book provides a model for students to pattern their sentence writing skills, their vocabulary development, and their knowledge of the Negro Baseball Leagues into a book that can be shared. Only recently has the United States celebrated the great contributions of the gifted men from the Negro Baseball Leagues. The topic is of high interest, and the understanding it brings is essential for the multi-cultured society in which we live.

Goals: National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE Standards) :

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and non print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.


  • Students will be able to write in complete sentences.
  • Students will learn to follow a pattern.
  • Students will be able to Web sites to collect data.
  • Students will be able to use graphic organizers to collect data.
  • Students will learn to edit when writing for an audience
  • Materials:

    Procedure: Day 1:
    Start the discussion by asking the class about famous sports figures, especially those who play baseball. You might list these on the chalkboard or overhead. As players are mentioned, note that they are of all races and nationalities. Ask students if they realize that African Americans were once excluded from the major baseball leagues. Most will be quite surprised to discover that many of their favorite players of today would not be allowed to play on major league teams if it were in the first half of the 20 th century. Relate that in this class session, you will be introducing the Negro Baseball Leagues to the students and that they will learn more about a task that will allow them to find out more about the leagues and its players. Either hand out copies of “The Introduction to the Negro Baseball League”, or use the transparency that you have made to introduce the study. As students read, have them write, or you write if it is a whole class activity, 10 things that they learned from reading the article. If you write, answer in phrases. After the items have been listed, then point out that you have not written in complete sentences. Ask students to help you to rewrite the information so that each thought has a subject and verb and makes a complete thought. If students have done the exercise independently, come together as a class to share what they have found. Again, point out groups of words or phrases rather than complete thoughts. Have students tell how they could rewrite their important fact in a complete sentence, using a capital to start the sentence and correct end punctuation. Tell the students that tomorrow they will be learning more about the Negro Baseball Leagues by using Web Links.

    Days 2 and 3 :
    Hand out the graphic organizer or ask students to number from 1 to 10 on a sheet of paper. Give them the Web Links that they can use to begin their research. Tell them that they are to read carefully to find 10 important things they didn’t know about the Negro Baseball Leagues. Ask them not to copy from the Web, but to put their finding into their own words. Tell them not to worry about complete sentences at this time. Allow students to begin their research and note taking. If computers are at a minimum, the exercise can be done in pairs.

    Day 4 :
    Have students come together with their information. Read The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown, pointing out the pattern that she uses for starting and ending every description. Hand out the Important Book Task and Rubric. Go over these so that students understand what they are to do. Tell them to use the information they have collected and recorded to write complete sentences that follow the pattern of the book. They state the most important fact, give two or three sentences that explain why it is important, and end by repeating the reason the fact is important.

    Assessment: See Rubric in Materials .

    Useful Internet Resources:
    * Negro League Baseball: The Glory Years

    * Negro League Baseball: Jackie Robinson

    * Get That ‘Negro’ Off the Field!

    * History of Black Baseball and the Negro Baseball Leagues

    * Negro Baseball
    Compiled by Robert Harrison

    * Negro Leagues Player Bios

    * Negro Baseball Leagues

    * NCTE Standards

    Special Comments: See related lessons listed below:
    * Players the Majors Missed: Biographies of Negro Baseball Leagues Players

    * Just Ask Me: Students Use Interviewing Techniques to Learn About the Negro Baseball Leagues

    * Black and/or White: A Unit to Teach Compare and Contrast