Even though this is not a poetry reading, the article supports the concept of striking out that is presented in the lessons on Casey at Bat, and The Other Viewpoint and the author study. In this lesson I want students to focus more on the evaluative aspect of sports and the win=loss lessons learned. They will then come to the table with opinions and evidence from the article to discuss and debate their viewpoints and connections on this issue (SL 5.1, SL 5.4). Secondary objective is for them to summarize with text evidence to come to the group with strong responses to share (RI 5.2). Its a good way for them to learn how to use what they read in their discussions.
I begin the lesson by reading the Batting Averages of two of the top baseball players. After I read them I share that that decimal means that they only hit the ball 33% of the time they came up to bat. That is one hit out of every three times they came up to bat. Is that a very good batting average? I take some responses but we don't discuss too much yet because I just want them to begin the evaluating process and get their interest. Not everyone in this group has played or watched baseball in a team format, but they have played it at Physical Education time and understand the competitiveness of sports. If your students have not experienced the three previous lessons or don't know the game well, I would suggest sharing some understanding of the basics of the game to help them create the needed background knowledge.
I now share our objective that today you are going to read an article titled Are You Willing To Strike Out about Babe Ruth, considered to be one of the best baseball players of all time. You will then respond to questions with text evidence so that we can discuss the lessons learned through playing competitive sports and how these are similar to lessons in different areas of your lives.
If you want to swing for the fences, you have to be willing to strikeout.
I am looking for responses that show the understanding that the higher the goal the greater the risk, or trying hard to reach a great goal means that you will make mistakes but not give up. These responses show me that they get the deeper meaning of the poem "Casey at the Bat". The second question they respond to shares how sports and life lessons are similar - this is a varied group of students with some playing competitive sports and some not enjoying exercise or sports. I'm still expecting all to connect the two in similarities because of the prior lessons taught in this unit and their shared experience with physical education classes.
This is where I can see their levels of understanding and their connections of sports lessons to life lessons. I ask first what they thought of the article and Babe Ruth to check for reading comprehension. I then ask why he didn't give up when he struck out so often to get them thinking evaluatively of his choices and reasons. I continue to push their thinking by asking what he was famous for (hitting home runs) and then share how important home runs are to the game of baseball.
Here's a video of a few of their responses and how I encouraged their discourse through questioning.
We close by sharing who plays sports and why they play, and who does not and why they don't play. This gives a good closure to reasons why we make choices we do in life and the way these choices form who we are as people.