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Teacher Lesson Return to "Colin Kaepernick"
Colin Kaepernick
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
Protesting From the Sidelines

Story Summary: Colin Kaepernick became a divisive figure in sports by refusing to stand during the national anthem prior to his NFL football games. After leaving the San Francisco 49ers, at the time of this writing, no team has been willing to pick him up. The writer questions why such a talented athlete remains off all NFL rosters as the 2017 season gets underway.

See the story "Colin Kaepernick: Punished For His Politics"

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students will respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives (CCLS SL.1).
• Students will read and comprehend literary nonfiction proficiently (CCLS R.10).
• Students will write routinely over extended and shorter time frames for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences (CCLS W.10).

Before Reading the Story (10 min)
This opening activity will activate background knowledge to boost reading comprehension and set the emotional tone for the story.

1. Welcome students to the group. Introduce the lesson by telling them you will be reading a true story by a teen who questions why Colin Kaepernick remains absent from NFL teams at the start of the 2017 season.

2. Introduce the Opinion Continuum activity by explaining that they will be doing an activity that allows them to move around while learning more about what they and their peers think about a topic.

3. Post two signs on either end of the room. One should read “agree” and the other “disagree.”

4. While the group is still seated, review the directions. Tell them:
• "On either end of the room, there are signs that read ‘agree’ and ‘disagree.’”
• "I will read a statement and you will decide whether it’s true for you (agree) or not (disagree). Then you will move somewhere in between the two signs that reflects your opinion. If you’re unsure, you should stand somewhere in the middle.”
• "Once everyone has moved, I will invite volunteers to share why they chose to stand where they are.”

5. Clear a space and ask group members to stand somewhere between the two signs.

6. Read the first statement and ask group members to move to a spot between the two signs that reflects their opinion:
There are right ways and wrong ways to protest against injustice.

7. Once all group members have moved in response to a statement, ask them to notice where other group members are standing. (You can support minority positions by moving closer to someone who is alone at one end of the continuum.)

8. Ask at least one group member standing on either end of the continuum to share why they are standing where they are. Tell group members they may change their position if they are influenced by another group member’s opinion.

9. After each question, have everyone return to the middle.

10. Repeat for each statement:
Celebrities have a responsibility to use their fame for good.
Being patriotic means supporting what your country does, no matter what.

11. Have everyone return to their seats and thank group members for sharing their opinions.

12. Thank students for sharing.

During Reading (20 min)
By practicing active reading strategies while reading aloud and discussing as a group, students build comprehension and support fluency.

1. Introduce the story (see the summary above).

2. Share the expectations for a group read-aloud: volunteers take turns reading aloud as much or as little as they would like. As the group leader, you may stop periodically to discuss or check in on active reading by asking students to share their responses to the story.

3. Tell students they will practice an active reading strategy called reading for a purpose. This will help them read for a purpose and be prepared to use the text in later activities.

4. Reading for a purpose directions: Ask students to read for moments in the text when they agree with a point that is being made. When this occurs in the text, students should write a “+” in the margin. When they read a point they disagree with, they should write a “-” in the margin.

5. While sitting in a circle, read the story aloud together. Stop to discuss periodically, supporting peer-to-peer talk and non-judgmental listening. To do this, ask for volunteers to share what they wrote a “+” or “-” next to and why. Alternately, you can pose an open question such as “What stands out to you in this section and why?”

6. Next, ask the group to further consider these questions:
• What was Kaepernick protesting?
• Do you think he was protesting appropriately? Why or why not?
• Do you agree with the NFL owners for keeping him off their teams? Why or why not?

After Reading the Story (15 min)
During this post-reading activity, students will make connections, build understanding, and rehearse positive behaviors.

1. Introduce the Dear NFL Owners activity by explaining to the group that they will write a letter to NFL Owners giving them advice based on their personal experiences and opinion about the topic.

2. Tell the group:
• "Your goal is to communicate your ideas and responses to the writer’s story, so don’t worry about spelling and grammar.”
• "There are no right or wrong answers, just your ideas and opinions.”

3. Write the Dear NFL Owners guidelines on the board, or read them to the group:
Begin with the greeting: “Dear NFL Owners, I just read the story, “Colin Kaepernick: Punished For His Politics.”
Outline some of the key facts on this issue and describe your understanding of what’s happened.
State whether or not you agree that NFL owners should keep Kaepernick off their teams.
Provide supporting evidence to make a convincing argument.
Closing: “Sincerely, (Your Name).”

4. Pass out journals or notebook paper and pencils.

5. Give group members about eight minutes to write their letters. Move around the room offering encouragement and support.

6. When about eight minutes are up (use a timer), tell group members to finish their last thought and put their pencils down.

7. Explain to the group that they are now going to do a Pair Share. Tell them to turn to the person next to them and take turns sharing parts of their letters that they feel comfortable sharing.

8. Each member of the pair should take about a minute to share. Cue partners to switch roles after the first minute. Use a timer or wait until the hum of conversation dies down before closing the activity.

9. Time permitting, lead a discussion by asking group members to comment on what they heard, such as similarities, differences, or personal connections they had to their peers’ responses. They can also discuss points they agree or disagree with, new ideas they’ve been given, and questions they still have.

10. Thank students for being thoughtful members of the group and working to make connections to Toyloy’s story, reflect on their own lives, and share with one another.
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