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MLB Breaking Barriers

LESSON 3: Essay Organizer

PRINTABLE 3: "Essay Organizer"

DIGITAL Version: "Essay Organizer" — digital organizer where students can create their essay outlines online.

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: Students will follow steps to prepare to write an essay about using values to overcome barriers.


  1. Distribute copies of Printable 3, "Essay Organizer." (Teachers can also distribute the digital version of "Essay Organizer" to be used in class discussion or independent study.)
  2. As a class, review the steps of the essay-writing process. To reinforce concepts of barriers and values, as well as the history of Jackie Robinson, refer back to previous lessons and printables.
  3. Step 1: Choose a topic. Ask students to identify a barrier they've faced and a value they've used to face and overcome the barrier. Remind students to be as specific as possible. Example: Saying you're afraid or too young is too general. Narrow the topic to "fear of failing" or "too young to be in Little League." Likewise, saying you used "courage" or "integrity" is too general. Discuss specifics of the value(s) used.

    Step 2: Write your main ideas. Assign students to do a quick three-minute "free-write" of a sentence or two for each of the writing prompts below:

    • What was the barrier you faced?
    • What are some basic details about the barrier? (For example, When did you face the barrier? Who was involved in the situation? Where did it occur?)
    • Which of Jackie Robinson's nine values did you use to overcome the barrier?
    • How did you use the value to face or overcome the barrier? (Write a separate sentence for each value, if you used more than one.)
    • How was your barrier similar to the barriers that Jackie Robinson faced? How was it different?
    • What was the outcome of using your value(s)?

    Step 3: Create an outline. Explain to students that outlines help them organize their essays. Tell them that they can move items around or take them out as they create their outlines. Their goal should be to arrange their ideas in a logical way. Remind students that each main idea needs details to support it.

    Step 4: Write topic sentences. Explain to students that in this step they will write topic sentences based on their outlines. Generally, each topic sentence begins a new paragraph. Supporting sentences follow and provide information that helps explain the topic sentence.

    Tell students that when they have completed their essays, they can submit their work to the Breaking Barriers Essay Contest. Distribute copies of the contest reproducible or direct students to


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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