Write a Letter to Jesse Owens
Grade Levels: 5 - 7
- Student will learn about the accomplishments of Jesse Owens.
- Students will learn about the views of the Nazi Party and the state of the Civil Rights movement in America in 1936.
- Students will practice their letter writing skills.
Explain to students that they will be learning about runner Jesse Owens and
what his accomplishments symbolized to the world.
- Distribute the two handouts and go over them with the students.
- Discuss world events and the state of civil rights in 1936.
- Ask students to generate a list of different types of people who may have been watching the 1936 Olympics. (Nazi supporters, Hitler, members of various
ethnic groups, a black American, other athletes, etc.). Write the roles Nazi Supporter, Fellow Athlete, and African
American as headings at the top of the board.
- Ask students to generate a list of emotions each group of people may have felt watching Jesse Owens'
victories during the track and field events.
- Direct students to select one of the roles on the board, disregarding their personal
feelings. Explain that they will be pretending to be a Nazi, an athlete, or an African American.
- Give students time to research the Nazi Party's views and the state of the Civil
Rights Movement in America in 1936.
- From the point of view of their selected role, instruct students to write a letter
to Jesse Owens describing their political beliefs and their feelings about his
accomplishments in specific detail.
- Once the letters have been edited by either a teacher or a peer, break the class
into small groups, and have students read their letters aloud to one another.
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