Jim Thorpe's Bright Path Close Read

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SWBAT complete a close read about Olympian Jim Thorpe and write a letter to an Olympian they admire.

Big Idea

Students learn about Jim Thorpe and write a letter to an Olympian of their choice.


1 minutes


4 minutes

I begin the lesson by writing James Francis "Jim" Thorpe's name on the whiteboard.  I ask my students has anyone ever heard of him. No one has.  I, then, tell them that Jim Thorpe is one of the best athletes in American history.  He was of Native American and European ancestry.  He played football, basketball, baseball, and competed in track events.  He had a challenging childhood and grew up in Oklahoma.  He was an Olympic athlete and the first president of American Professional Football Association (APFA) which became the National Football League (NFL) in 1922.

Close Read

40 minutes

Next, I write Jim Thorpe's Native America name on the whiteboard (Wa-tho-huk), pronounce the name and get my students to pronounce it, as well.  I tell my students that Wa-tho-huk is Jim Thorpe's Native American name that means "bright path."  I tell my students that we will now complete a close read of "Jim Thorpe's Bright Path" by Joseph Bruschac.  I get my students to popcorn read the selection, as we focus on Tier 2 vocabulary.  Once we have completed reading the selection, we answer some teacher-generated text-based questions and I allow my students to ask questions they have, as well.


15 minutes

To close the lesson, I have my students to write a short letter to an Olympian of their choice.  I tell them they can write about why this person inspires them, ask any questions they have of that Olympic athlete about their childhood, life challenges, family, training, etc.  (See attached student samples of letters to Olympians as resources.)