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MLB Breaking Barriers

LESSON 2: Values and Barriers

PRINTABLE 2: "Values and Barriers"

DIGITAL Version: "Values and Barriers" — contains a flashcards/quiz activity which teaches definitions of the nine values.

ADDITIONAL TOOLS: Follow the printable Additional Tools document to support and enrich the lesson. This document features:

  • Suggested answers to lesson discussion questions
  • Academic and domain-specific vocabulary lists
  • Writing prompts
  • Paired-text reading suggestions
  • Grades 4–8 higher standards chart


TIME REQUIRED: 45 minutes

LESSON OBJECTIVE: Through reading and class discussion (and optional video extensions), students will understand what values are and how they are important in facing barriers.


  1. Start the class by asking students what the word values means. Guide them to define values as: beliefs that are important to you and that help to guide your life.
  2. Display the classroom poster. Ask students to discuss with a partner the meaning of the quote, “Life is not a spectator sport.” Then ask various groups to share their answers.
  3. Divide the class into nine small groups and distribute Printable 2: “Values and Barriers” to each group. (Teachers can also distribute the digital version of "Values and Barriers" to be used in class discussion or independent study.) Assign each group one of the values from the “Values and Barriers” handout. Have students discuss their assigned value, drawing on the text and making inferences from it to respond to these questions:

    • Explain the meaning of your assigned value in your own words.
    • Why is this an important value for people to have?
    • How could this value help people face and overcome a barrier? Provide an example.

  4. After students finish their discussions, ask groups to share their answers with the class.

    • Optional: Consider incorporating the video extensions at this point (see "Video Extensions" section below).

  5. Have students prepare to write essays about their own barriers, and how they have used Jackie Robinson’s values to face those barriers. Move on to Lesson 3: “Essay Organizer” to help students understand important steps in the essay-writing process. Encourage students to enter their essays in the Breaking Barriers Essay Contest.


Incorporate some or all of the following video clips:

For synopses of the above video clips, click here.

While students watch the clips: Ask them to look for any of the values Jackie Robinson demonstrated in the clips.

After students have viewed the clips: Have them discuss how Jackie Robinson followed any of the nine values in the following events shown in the video clips:

  • His first week playing in the Major Leagues
  • His encounter with Ben Chapman’s taunts when he came to bat during the first games he played
  • His cofounding of the Freedom National Bank after he left baseball


  • Discuss the concept of character, which can be defined as the features and traits of an individual that reflect the sort of person he or she is. How do values reflect a person’s character? How do a person’s actions display his or her values and character? What does it mean when a person is described as having “strength of character”?
  • Have students research and discuss contemporary examples of individuals who have broken barriers, and values that they relied upon in facing barriers. (Examples might include Sonia Sotomayor, Malala Yousafzai, or someone in their local community.)
  • Encourage students to conduct interviews with family and friends to discuss any barriers they have faced, as well as the values they have called upon to overcome these barriers.


Classroom Poster: "Life Is Not a Spectator Sport": Download this printable featuring Jackie Robinson's Nine Values.

Essay Contest: "Breaking Barriers Essay Contest": Encourage students to write essays about barriers they have faced in their own lives, and how they have used Jackie Robinson's values to face those barriers.

Supplemental Lesson: “History of the Negro Leagues”: Use this lesson to build student understanding of important milestones in the history of the Negro Leagues.

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