Illustrative Examples of Units of Practice

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Snapshot


This is a seasonal interdisciplinary unit. It uses the sport of baseball to introduce the idea of relating a variety of school disciplines to physical activity. Studentsí work will involve computer-based research, newspapers and possibly other media sources. Tasks will include the science and math of the game with suggested activities in Social Studies, Language Arts, Physical Education and Art.

 

Subjects:                 Math, Science

Learning Level:     Grades 7-9 

Author(s):               Judith Reynolds

 

Invitation


Itís springtime and school is drawing steadily to a close. How can we meet the challenge of maintaining interest and excitement in learning? How about a game of ball? Why not use their interest in sports to provide an opportunity to research questions that will show the correlation between science and activity? Let them choose a baseball team and use the statistics of that team to improve their math skills in areas such as ratio, percent, comparisons and graphing. Go a step further to probability! Why not use the unique language of the game to discuss communication skills and culture within the sport? Are students aware of the impact of the sport on economic, gender and cultural issues? How creative can they become? Why not design baseball cards, banners or even a stadium? And letís not forget getting out and learning to play the game!

Outcomes


Math

Situations


 I am primarily a Science/Math teacher and will focus on those areas with clear suggestions for the other disciplines described in the resources listed at the end of this illustrative example of a unit of practice. The Science component suggested would take approximately 5 to 6-forty minute periods; the Math slightly more. A computer lab or group of four or more classroom computers will enable students to work individually or in pairs. Newspapers and other media are good sources of statistical baseball information. As a prerequisite, students should have a very basic knowledge of ratio, percent and bar graphs.

Tasks


Science

Singularly or in pairs, provide students with a prepared sheet of leading questions (sample one given in resources) to be researched on website ( http://www.exploratorium.edu/baseball/ ) .

Upon discussion of answers, one may want to spend some extra time on some of the key scientific terms such as: atmospheric pressure, trajectory, density, viscosity, humidity, momentum, elasticity. I suggest having the students create their own glossary or important fact sheet of these terms. Additional relevant terms can be added later if desired.  

Have groups, or as a demonstration, do a lab to rate the degree of elasticity of various balls used in sports. (Sample lab format provided in resources.). Come back as a class and discuss and compare the findings and their relation to the game(s). Lead this into a general discussion of the tools or equipment used in the game. Possibly assign groups to do a report on individual pieces of equipment used in the game of baseball.

Math 

Have samples from newspapers or prepare an overhead to introduce and discuss the meanings and readings of the baseball statistics.

Singular or in pairs have students choose a team and research their statistics from media sources and/or the net (www.baseball-reference.com/ ) . Design basic ratio and percent questions for students to compute on their team, i.e. ratio of games won to games played for a particular period.

Have students calculate the % of wins over each of the past five or ten years. Have the students use both language and bar graphs to express and communicate their teams progress over this time period. Have students make comparisons between teams

(Optional) Have students move into the meaning and calculation of probability. (http://www.mste.uiuc.edu/hill/ev/seriesprob.html )

Interactions


Students will work cooperatively in pairs and/or groups and will need to share information between groups at times. Students will work as a class during the delivery of introductory information and drawing conclusions after activities and research.

The teacher will need to possibly review and /or introduce some of the terms and skills used and will need to facilitate the research and direct the accumulation of the information and conclusions.

Assessment


Science 

Math            

Tools


Students will use

Projects


I have included the following work sheets as attachments to this page to help in the science section. Please feel free to use or adjust as you need: 

  Although this is designed for junior high, one could go more deeply into the science. For example: the spin on the ball.

  The following are some suggestions for integrating this unit into other disciplines:

  Language Arts

Discuss the unique language of the game. There is a good list on the following Ali UOP ID # 740 to get you started. You might have students design some of their own expressions or write a story making use of the language.

  As well, the Stephen King novel ď The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon ď is appropriate reading for the grade level and relates how a young girlís love of the game of baseball enables her to keep her senses while lost in the woods of New England.

  Social Studies

Several approaches could be possible here. Students could explore the huge social and economic influences of the sports world. Gender issues could be studied by making links to the womenís baseball league both past and present. Race and cultural issues in sport can be explored through research into the Black Baseball League in the past and the inclusion now of players from all races and countries. Students will be interested to locate their teamís home city as well as its training camp area

  Art 

Students could research and design original baseball cards, banners or their own stadium. This last idea might be done in conjunction with the Industrial Arts Department with access to computer aided design software.

  Physical Ed.

It would be great if during the same time period the students were to learn the mechanics and skills as well as play the game in the Physical.Education program.

Resources


URLs that may be helpful include: