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The Importance of Sports in American Culture

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The Foundational Reading and Language Standards Resources Package for Grades 3–5

Use this guide to build additional literacy blocks alongside the module lessons.


 In this brief unit, students will build their background knowledge about the importance of sports within the American culture over time. They will read two informational articles: “It’s Not Just a Game!” and “The Literature of Baseball: The Quintessential American Game.” Students will also be reintroduced to reading and writing arguments (RI.5.8 and W.5.1). They will begin to explore how to read opinion pieces. They will be introduced to the term “opinion” and be asked to identify and explain how authors use evidence to support their opinions.

For the mid-unit assessment, students will read and answer text-dependent questions about a new informational article, “Roots of American Sports,” which will help further build students’ knowledge about the importance of sports in American society. For the end of unit on-demand assessment, students begin to practice citing evidence to support an opinion, specifically: “Sports are an important part of American Culture.” Then they will identify supporting evidence for the opinion, organize their ideas, and write an opinion paragraph using the opinion and supporting details they identified.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • What is the role of sports in American culture?
  • Because sports are an integral part of American culture, athletes are presented with unique opportunities to lead.

Content Connections

  • This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies content that many teachers may be teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

NYS Social Studies Core Curriculum

Theme 1
Individual development and cultural identity: “Personal identity is a function of an individual’s culture, time, place, geography, interaction with groups, influences from institutions, and lived experiences” (page 6).


Texts to buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please refer to Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Cover Text Quantity ISBNs
Promises To Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America
by Sharon Robinson
One Per Student
ISBN: 978- 0439678759, 0439678757

Texts included in the unit

Texts that are included in the lesson materials.

Cover Text Quantity Publisher
The Great Migration
by Junior Scholastic
Courage on the Field
by Marc Stewart
Gibson, Althea (1927-2003)
by The New Book of Knowledge
Rules for Riding Desegregated Buses
by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
Sports in America
by State Department
Roots of American Sports
by Phyllis Goldman
Allosaurus Publishers, , 2005
It’s Not Just a Game!
by Lori Calabrese

Optional Activities

Invite experts to speak to the class: sports reporters; sports historians or enthusiasts; athletes or coaches; physical education instructors; extreme athletes.

In Physical Education
Continue to study the history of sports, including possibly learning the early rules for games like baseball. Explore how and why a specific sport has evolved over time.

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