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Blogging Baseball

Lesson Summary:
Students will understand the differences between the terms oral tradition and folklore as it relates to the history of Negro Leagues baseball players. Through research and class blogging students will express and reflect upon the knowledge they gained regarding the Negro Leagues players and how oral tradition and folklore is important.

Key Features of Powerful Teaching and Learning:
(National Council for the Social Studies. “A Vision of Powerful Teaching and Learning in the Social Studies: Building Social Understanding and Civic Efficacy.”

Meaningful: Students will know the difference and importance of oral tradition and folklore in the Negro Leagues and reflect upon their findings.

Challenging: Students must work cooperatively and individually with technology to understand the lesson’s key concepts and promote student discussion through a class blog.

Active: Students work in groups to find pertinent information and post reflections and findings on the class blog.

Students will understand the differences between the terms oral tradition and folklore as it relates to the history of Negro Leagues baseball players. Through research and class blogging, students will express and reflect upon the knowledge they gained regarding the Negro Leagues players and how oral tradition and folklore is important.

1. Students will be able to define the terms oral tradition and
2. Students will understand the difference between oral tradition
    and folklore and factual information.
3. Students will research and post their oral traditions and
    folklore findings on Negro Leagues players to a class blog.

Materials/Primary Resources:
Internet access, Negro Leagues resources listed below, other reputable resources, and the provided student handout.

Primary Resources:
Black Diamond by McKissack, P. and McKissack, F.
Only the Ball was White by Robert Peterson
• Webster’s Dictionary online,

Procedures and Activities:
Day 1-2:
Divide students into groups and ask them to define oral tradition, folklore, and fact. Discuss with students the difference between these three terms and have them take notes on the student handout. Then divide students into groups assigning students 1-3 players per group to research. Students may want to pay particular attention to Chapter Five in the McKissack book and utilize the indexes of both books to find specific information on the players listed on the student handout.

Day 3-4:
Students finish researching the players in their groups. Students will then log on to the classroom blog for a “discussion” between other classes. Distribute the blog expectations to students and discuss the blog expectations as a class. For the first blog students should post, as a group, a thought based on their research. After the initial blog students can post their thoughts as a group or individually during class time, or individually as a homework assignment.

Teachers need to allow time for students to check and respond to the blog. If students are blogging during class, this might be a great sponge activity at the beginning of class. Be sure to assign a minimum number of blog responses per student for credit. Teachers may need to post questions or responses in order to “steer” the blog or prompt dialogue when the blog is stalled.

Possible questions to prompt the blog would be:
1. What did the students learn about blogging?
2. What did students learn about Negro Leagues players, oral traditions, folklore, and factual information?
3. Why are oral traditions and folklore important to culture and society?
4. What other examples of oral tradition or folklore do you know?
5. Does your family and/or culture have oral traditions or folklore you would like to share?

After 7-10 days of blogging (could be longer if students are motivated by the discussion on the blog), hold a class discussion about the blog and what new or surprising information students learned from blogging with other students in other classes.

Extension and Enrichment:
Students research another culture’s oral traditions and folklore further through technology and hard copy forms. Students then post their findings, at least one of the oral traditions or folklore tales they learned about another culture, to the class website or blog.

Online Resources:

Monitor the class blog during the next 7-10 days. Determine if students met the student blog expectations or not.

Alternative Assessment:
Students will form groups and write their own version of an oral tradition or folklore tale based upon what they have read about Negro Leagues baseball and Black American history or based upon their own personal experiences. These stories could be posted on the classroom website or posted on the class blog.

Blogging Questions & Directions for Teachers:

Q: What is a blog?
A web log (or blog) is a web-based space for writing where all the writing and editing of information is managed through a web browser and is immediately and publicly available on the Internet. A blog site is managed by an individual who compiles lists of links to personally interesting material, interspersed with information and editorial materials. A blog gives students their own voice on the web. It's a place to collect and share things that students find interesting- whether it's your political commentary, a personal diary, or links to web sites you want to remember. The fastest way to understand blogging is to try it out.

Q. Why would students want to use a blog?
A number of students use the public aspect of the blog to check where other students “are at” and to see what other students are learning, but also to gauge their own progress compared to other students. Blogs are able to integrate the personal aspect of a traditional learning journal that documents a student’s thoughts and ideas about a topic(s) with the publishing capability of the web. The blog is a way of documenting learning and collecting information for self-analysis and reflection.

Q. How can I use a blog with students?
In this case, students will use the blog to organize their thoughts and findings on oral traditions, folklore, Negro Leagues baseball, Negro Leagues players, and other cultures’ oral traditions and folklore. The blogging experience is about not only putting thoughts on the web, but hearing back from and connecting with other students and like-minded people. Students are able to observe others’ learning through reading each other’s learning journal blogs.

Q. How simple is it to create a blog?
You can create your own free and private classroom blog on Blogger. To get started on Blogger, go to, you can choose to make your blog public or private. Security as a teacher is important - so you can restrict access to a certain group of people, such as students.

Q. How can I set up a class blog?
1. Click on "Set Up Blog Now"
2. Enter some basic information- name, e-mail address, etc. (Blogger will not share your information.)
3. Choose a premade template for your blog or make your own if you like.
4. Under “Settings” click on members and add member (student) e-mail addresses. An invite e-mail is sent to each member and they must accept in order to begin blogging. This allows you to see who has accessed the blog.
5. Under “Settings” click on Archive, select the frequency you want to archive the blog postings.
6. Under “settings” click on comments, under who can comment set it to only members of this blog. Now only members (students) you have allowed can comment on this page.
7. After you make all the changes you want under “settings,” be sure to click on the republish button to update your changes.
8. To begin blogging, click on "Posting" and blog.

Note: eBlogger allows for a lot of control. Go to the "Settings" page and you can modify things like time stamps, who can comment, etc. You can take the blog out of public view, but the best way is to limit it to members of the blog. You can then add members (students) by adding in their e-mail addresses, and that makes it a private blog. You can even create a mirror blog for parents to read and respond to as well.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject: Social Studies

NCSS Standards:
ISTE Standards: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Missouri Standards: 5, 6, 7

Time Allotment:
3 to 4, 60-minute periods