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Text Set: Athletes & Bias-Related Challenges

If you’re students love sports (and even if they don’t), a text set on athletes and the biases they have faced might motivate students to engage in some critical thinking and tranformative conversations. Below is a set of five Newsela articles I curated for a middle school program. (We used Sara Ahmed’s Being the Change for anchor lessons on bias.)The articles can be accessed at multiple Lexile levels making them easier to use in 4-8th grade classrooms with a wide variety of readers. They cover a wide variety of sports and issues and an inclusive group of athletes.

Set Clear Purpose for Reading

My suggestion would be to read and discuss the first article as a group and then to give students a choice about which additional articles they want to read, to compare/contrast/synthesize across sources. Questions that might serve as the purpose(s) for reading :

  • What did you learn about this athlete? 
  • How were other people’s biases a challenge for this athlete to overcome?
  • Why is this important to think about? 

Text Set

  1. South Korean Paralympic skier says other skiers cheer him on now 

By Jason Strother, Public Radio International 

2. NCAA dreams for UC Berkeley’s competitive team for the blind 

    By Katy Murphy, San Jose Mercury News 

3. A real winner: Special-needs athletes to receive varsity letters 

    By Suzanne Perez Tobias, Wichita Eagle 

4. Jamaican bobsledder says diversity is important at Olympics 

    By Kelyn Soong, Washington Post on 02.22.18

5. U.S. high school introduces sport hijabs for female Muslim athletes 

    By David Sharp, Associated Press 

NEWSELA does require an account, but it’s free. If you can’t access, let me know. (I have a go around;) ALSO, I wrote lesson plans for using these articles (for seventh grade students); the plans incorporate teaching students how to use an inquiry chart to track their thinking/learning (Cummins, 2018; Hoffman, 1992) and a Jamboard to support you in teaching key vocabulary. If you’d like to take a look, please email me at I can share links with you.

Hope this helps.


For more examples of text sets and suggestions for teaching, see my book Nurturing Informed Thinking.

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