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Lesson Plan

Play Ball! Encouraging Critical Thinking Through Baseball Questions

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Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Helen Hoffner, Ed.D.

Helen Hoffner, Ed.D.

Ridley Park, Pennsylvania


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Batter up! Studies show that using topics from popular culture in the classroom motivates students to read and write. This lesson, which can also be adapted for other topics, encourages students to look critically at trivia questions before writing their own. Students begin by listening to a read-aloud of Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man by David A. Adler and visiting websites containing baseball facts. Using the information they discover, students write questions to include in a Jeopardy game PowerPoint template. Playing the game with classmates enables students to share the facts they have discovered and creates a cooperative atmosphere in the classroom.

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Play Ball! Encouraging Critical Thinking Through Baseball Questions Observation Sheet: Teachers can use this sheet to help guide students to ask questions and think critically as they investigate the history of baseball.

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Xu, S.H., Perkins, R.S., & Zunich, L.O. (2005). New literature studies and popular culture texts. In Trading cards to comic strips: Popular culture texts and literacy learning in grades K8 (pp. 1226). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • A New Literature Studies (NLS) perspective suggests that motivation increases when topics from popular culture (i.e., sports, video games, or entertainment news) are explored in the classroom.

  • Engaged readers have intrinsic motivation and a compelling purpose to complete a literacy task. The opportunity to research a chosen topic as well as to formulate and pose questions on that topic can provide a substantial purpose.

  • Students naturally belong to various discourse communities, such as groups that enjoy discussing sports or groups that critique films. Membership in one of these communities enables a student to develop language in a social context.

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