Lesson: Defining 'Victory'

Author: Marc Sheehan

Subjects: English, Writing, Research Skills

Instructional Level: Seventh Grade

Skills: Research, Composing Grade-Level Paragraphs

Time: 10-14 days -- Includes 5 class periods for introduction, research, drafting, editing/revising, presenting

Materials/What is Needed: Computer with video device, Internet access, Printer, Journals, Writing Implements

Objectives: The student will be able to compose a grade-level essay on a given topic with an introduction, body, and conclusion, using appropriate grammar and spelling conventions.
The student will be able to conduct research on a selected subject.
The student will be able to correctly cite a research source.

Introduction: I used this lesson with the Seventh Grade class at St. Philomena Catholic School (Des Moines, Washington) during a long-term substitute assignment in 2016. I introduced the lesson by showing the students a video of British sprinter Derek Redmond at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2G8KVzTwfw). When the video ended, I asked my students to answer this question: Was Redmond's 400-Meter race, in which he overcame a torn hamstring to finish, an act we could consider "victorious?" We discussed the following concepts: Does ‘victory’ always mean that someone has won a game, match, meet, trophy, or championship? Can it include someone overcoming a disability, or someone who shows courage or demonstrates perseverance? Can it include someone rallying in the face of a very difficult situation?

Possible research subjects to share:
Teams That Faced Tragedy: 1958 Manchester United soccer; 1993-94 Zambia national soccer team, 1970-71 Marshall University football, 1990 Loyola Marymount men’s basketball, 1920 Cleveland Indians baseball, 1960 Denmark Olympic Men’s Soccer, 1986-87 Swift Current Broncos junior hockey, 1970 Wichita State football, 2015 Adelaide Crows Australian Rules football, 2018-19 Humboldt Broncos junior hockey, 2017 Chapecoense soccer
Athletes That Encountered Injuries, Illnesses, Difficult Circumstances, or Personal Tragedy: Derek Redmond, Dan Jansen, Dave Dravecky, Katie Collier, Monica Seles, Lauren Hill (Mt. St. Joseph basketball), Mario Lemieux, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Chuck Cooper, Earl Lloyd, Bethany Hamilton, Saku Koivu, Curtis Pride, Edna Campbell, Eric Berry, Jon Lester, Ben Hogan, Sean Elliott, Wilma Rudolph, Niki Lauda, Andres Gallaraga, Eric Davis, Tony Conigliaro, Terry Fox, Tedy Bruschi, Billy Mayfair, Mike Lowell, Hermann Maier, Josh Bidwell, Eric Shanteau, John Cullen, Jessica Breland, Danny Thompson (baseball), Mark Herzlich, Glenn Cunningham, Clint Malarchuk, Shun Fujimoto, Joannie Rochette, Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D'Agostino, James Conner
Athletes With Disabilities: Special Olympians, Paralympians, Jim Abbott, Pete Gray, Tom Dempsey, Mordecai ‘Three-Finger’ Brown, Anthony Robles, Bert Shepard, Jim Eisenreich, Casey Martin, April Holmes, Gallaudet University athletes, Melissa Stockwell, Jim Maclaren, Oliver Halassy, Team Hoyt marathoners, George Eyser, Oz Sanchez, Tatyana McFadden, Jessica Long, Kyle Maynard, Alana Nichols, Lis Hartel, Ildiko Ujlaky-Rejto, Natalia Partyka, Marla Runyan, Terence Parkin, Paola Fantato, Jeff Float, Neroli Fairhall, Shaquem Griffin

Samples of notes and completed writing pieces to share:
Sample Wrting: Derek Redmond
Sample Writing: 1958 Manchester United Team

Procedure: The students were assigned the following task, to be included in a short essay of three paragraphs:
Decide on a definition of the term ‘victory,’ with a view toward someone or a team overcoming an extraordinary situation by demonstrating courage, bravery, determination, and/or perseverance.
Choose an athlete or team who fit that definition and research that person or team, listing at least one source using Easy Bib).
Describe in an introductory paragraph a "conventional" definition the term "victory" and follow it with your own defintion, focusing on overcoming a challenge or showing courage. State who your research subject for this essay will be and transition into the next paragraph by saying they are an example of achieving victory, according to your definition.
In the second paragraph, describe how the subject met that challenge, such as a disability, difficult circumstances, a tragedy, or an illness.
(What siutation confronted them? What did they do?)
The concluding paragraph will include the argument that the research subject was victorious because they did not quit in the face of overwhelming circumstances. Give a view of how the subject achieved a ‘victory’ by showing perseverance, courage, or determination, even if that ‘victory’ was not rewarded with a win on the playing field/surface, a championship, or a prize. Refer to the initial definition of "victory" in the conclusion and re-iterate that the research subject was indeed "victorious."
The students were given about 14 days to submit their final essays.

One 50-minute class period was devoted to the introduction/discussion and and sharing two sample pieces, another session for research in the computer lab, a third period for sharing drafts with peers for the purpose of editing, and fourth class session for composing a final copy. The students needed to submit their final essay two weeks after the project was assigned. On that due date, volunteers who wished to share their essays were given that opportunity.

Closure/Modifications: The students were given the opportunity to share their writing pieces in class. All of the essays were either submitted electronically or with printed copies. I was able to suggest edits by having the class share their work with me before they submitted their final drafts. This assignment can be modified by altering the length of the paragraphs, the length of the essays, offering the chance to scribe student ideas, using a dictation program (like Dragon Dictate), having students complete the assignment in parts, or using a modified grading rubric (e.g. focus on complete sentences over spelling).

Assessment: The essays were graded on adherence to grammar and spelling conventions; the correct citation of a legitimate research source using a bibliography; an interesting introduction; an informative description in the body paragraph of someone or some team who showed courage, perseverance, and determination; and a well-reasoned argument in the conclusion of why that person or team should be considered victorious. A rubric could be used, as per teacher preference.

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