Breaking Barriers Essay – Duke/Ruffner

For this project, we will learn about the life of Jackie Robinson, the impact he made on history, and the values he possessed to help him overcome obstacles. 

The Breaking Barriers Essay Contest was created by Jackie Robinson’s family to continue his legacy and to empower students to overcome barriers of their own. In conjunction with Scholastic, the contest challenges students to write about a barrier he or she has faced and how he or she used one or more of Jackie Robinson’s core values of determination, perseverance, commitment, integrity, citizenship, courage, excellence, justice, and teamwork to overcome the obstacle.

Day One

Students watched two videos about the color barrier in Major League baseball in the 1940’s and the courage of both Robinson and Dodgers Manager Branch Rickey to break that color barrier.

The Color Barrier in Baseball and Society


Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey

Students read and annotated an article by Robinson’s daughter, Sharon Robinson, called “About My Father.”

We discussed the idea of a barrier as something that is difficult to get through or over – a challenge or a conflict that affects one’s life.  Students then brainstormed barriers they have faced. Students shared examples of barriers as they felt comfortable.

Day Two

Students watched a short video about Jackie Robinson’s nine values.

We discussed the meaning of the values and provided examples of how one might use the values to overcome various obstacles.

Students completed a bubble map asking them to select one barrier and to brainstorm how they have used the various values to overcome the challenge.

As students are ready, they flip to the back and begin outlining the body of their essay.  We used the document camera to provide examples of how to complete each.

Day 3

Students digitally outline their essay on the Breaking Barriers site.

Digital Outline

Students are introduced to the specifics of the essay assignment as well as the rubric.  They begin typing the rough draft.

Day 4

Students self and peer edit and print two copies of the final draft – one to submit and one to be graded by the teacher.