K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

The student will:

  • define and expand on concepts involving American history and racism.
  • work cooperatively with peers.
  • respond to major events in the book and apply, extend and expand on concepts while working with peers on answers to critical thinking questions.
  • respond personally to lessons in the book by creating the “message” of the book.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 Months


The book Teammates, a NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies; written by Peter Golenbock; illustrated by Paul Bacon

The four “Group” questions written, each written on a separate piece of paper


In order to determine what students know before beginning the lesson, ask: Who was Jackie Robinson? Also, ask students to listen for the following words in the story; segregation, prejudice, self-control, intimidate, humiliation and hostility.


  1. Read the book to the entire class. As you encounter each of the following words, ask students to define them (segregation, prejudice, self-control, intimidate, humiliation and hostility). The book contains many context clues.
  2. After reading the book to the students, divide students into four groups. Assign an area in the classroom for each group and ask each group to choose a leader (or co-leaders). The leader’s responsibility will be reporting to the class the group’s answer to one of the four questions. Each group will be assigned a question (or two) which are to be written on a separate piece of paper for each group. Another individual in the group is to write on the piece of paper a summary of the group’s discussion. Ask the person who records information to write group members’ names on the paper.


    • Group 1: Explain the statement, “I want a man with the courage not to fight back.”
    • Group 2: What did it mean when PeeWee Reese put his arm around Jackie Robinson in front of the crowd? What did PeeWee Reese risk?
    • Group 3: Describe what Branch Rickey was like.
    • Group 4: Pretend you are Jackie Robinson when he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. How did you feel? What might have been some of your thoughts?

    Allow approximately ten minutes for each group to meet and work on the answers to the questions. The teacher/counselor circulates while students are working.

  3. While the students are still in their groups, ask each group’s leader to read the question and then report to the class the answers they discussed. In addition to historical events, opportunities may arise to discuss anger management, self-control, ethical/moral decision-making and more. Hopefully, students will empathize with Jackie Robinson’s situation. Collect the question and summaries from each of the four groups for later review.
  4. Following the answers and related discussions, ask students to return to their seats. Ask them to respond in writing to this question: “What message in this book might you use in your life?” Collect the answers for later review.


The teacher/counselor will know the extent of student learning by review of:

  • Verbal answers to the four questions and related discussions
  • Written answers to the group questions
  • Written answers to individual questions

Supplemental information

Jackie Robinson: 1/31/19 - 10/24/72

  • Joined Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and helped them to 6 World Series appearances in 10 years.
  • Named Rookie of the Year in 1947.
  • Named League’s Most Valuable Player in 1949.
  • Played 10 years with the Dodgers and they won the World Series in 1955.
  • Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
  • While a college student at UCLA, starred in football and track.


When using this book with fifth graders, students have frequently asked that I read it again during the same session. This is an excellent resource to stimulate discussions about treating each other with respect regardless of differences, managing anger, making ethical decisions and analyzing what history teaches us. This resource seems to engage the entire class. Students have asked for additional information about Jackie Robinson after participating in this lesson.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 4
          • 4.RL.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
        • Grade 5
          • 5.RL.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Guidance (2010)
      • Early Emergent/Emergent

        • EEE.SE.2 Understand the relationship between self and others in the broader world. EEE.SE.2.1 Contrast the influence of self and others in relationship building. EEE.SE.2.2 Explain why it is important to follow rules in order to build relationships. EEE.SE.2.3...

    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 5

        • 5.H.2 Understand the role of prominent figures in shaping the United States. 5.H.2.1 Summarize the contributions of the “Founding Fathers” to the development of our country. 5.H.2.2 Explain how key historical figures have exemplified values and principles...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 5

  • Goal 2: The learner will apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
    • Objective 2.02: Interact with the text before, during, and after reading, listening, and viewing by:
      • making predictions.
      • formulating questions.
      • supporting answers from textual information, previous experience, and/or other sources.
      • drawing on personal, literary, and cultural understandings.
      • seeking additional information.
      • making connections with previous experiences, information, and ideas.
    • Objective 2.05: Evaluate inferences, conclusions, and generalizations and provide evidence by referencing the text(s).
    • Objective 2.09: Listen actively and critically by:
      • asking questions.
      • delving deeper into the topic.
      • elaborating on the information and ideas presented.
      • evaluating information and ideas.
      • making inferences and drawing conclusions.
      • making judgments.

Guidance (2001)

Grade K–5

  • Goal 7: Acquire the attitudes, knowledge and interpersonal skills to help understand and respect self and others.
    • Objective 7.10: Consider ethnic and cultural diversity.
    • Objective 7.14: Demonstrate how to make and keep friends.

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 5

  • Goal 3: The learner will examine the roles various ethnic groups have played in the development of the United States and its neighboring countries.
    • Objective 3.03: Identify examples of cultural interaction within and among the regions of the United States.
  • Goal 4: The learner will trace key developments in United States history and describe their impact on the land and people of the nation and its neighboring countries.
    • Objective 4.06: Evaluate the effectiveness of civil rights and social movements throughout United States history that reflect the struggle for equality and constitutional rights for all citizens.