Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan:
Beyond the Playing Field -
Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate
Teaching Activities: Civic Responsibility
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
This lesson also correlates to the National Standards for Civics and Government:
- Part V: What are the roles of the citizen in American Democracy?
Two class periods
To use the information contained in historical documents to classify ways citizens can influence government policy.
- Reproduce copies of the nine documents and the student worksheet for each
- Ask students to number from 1 to 9 on a sheet of paper leaving six lines
between each number.
- Read aloud each of the following scenarios, pausing to allow students to
write their responses to the questions on their papers.
- A bill has just passed in the Senate and is on its way to the House of Representatives.
Although you favor the principle of the bill, you oppose the bill in its present
form because you fear it does not do enough. What do you do? Why?
- You have just returned from a meeting at which the President of the United
States spoke. His speech frustrated you. What do you do? Why?
- It is the fall of an election year. You support a particular candidate,
and you are a well-known celebrity. The race is predicted to be very close. What
do you do? Why?
- The election is over and the candidate whom you supported did not win. You
hope the new President will support issues that concern you. What do you do?
- An important leader of a cause you believe in is going to attend the funeral
of another leader who was recently assassinated. You are concerned for his safety.
What do you do? Why?
- A large rally is going to be held in Washington DC. People in attendance
will be showing their support for a cause in which you strongly believe. What
do you do? Why?
- A place of worship in a community more than 1,000 miles from your home has
been bombed. What do you do? Why?
- A leader of a cause you believe in has spoken out against an executive policy
that you also support. You fear that the words of protest spoken by this leader
will cause the President to limit his efforts towards your common cause. What
do you do? Why?
- You sense that a younger generation will not be as patient as your generation
was to wait for changes to occur in government policy. You believe that violence
could erupt at any moment. What do you do? Why?
- A bill has just passed in the Senate and is on its way to the House of Representatives. Although you favor the principle of the bill, you oppose the bill in its present form because you fear it does not do enough. What do you do? Why?
- Ask for two or three responses to each scenario. Inform students that each
scenario was similar to one Jackie Robinson faced between 1957 and 1972.
- Distribute copies of the documents and worksheet to each student. Ask students
to analyze the documents and determine the actual actions taken by Robinson and
then, complete the worksheet comparing Robinson's actions to their own stated
- Discuss the completed worksheets with students.
Ask students to identify different ways in which citizens can take an active
role in policy-making today. Then ask whether they think technology allows citizens
to be more or less actively involved.