Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Hey, Mickey!

Biographies and Research of Notable Oklahomans

Lindsey Link, Lindsey Link | Published: March 18th, 2021 by Oklahoma Young Scholars/Javits

  • Grade Level Grade Level 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts, Social Studies
  • Course Course Oklahoma History, U.S. History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 3-4 class period(s)
  • Duration More 150 minutes


This lesson introduces students to notable historic and present-day Oklahomans, using biographies and informational text. Students will learn about Mickey Mantle before moving on to research another Oklahoma figure, such as Jim Thorpe, Sequoyah, Bill Pickett, Maria Tallchief, Will Rogers, Wiley Post, Shannon Lucid, or Clara Luper.

Essential Question(s)

How did the contributions and work of notable Oklahomans help shape history?



Students consider which famous Oklahomans are not like the others.


Students collaborate to create a timeline of Mickey Mantle's life, contributions, and accomplishments.


Students actively read through an informational flip book that details the life of Mickey Mantle and his contributions that shaped history.


Students organize their research by completing a Frayer Model for a specific famous Oklahoman.


Students write a Six-Word Memoir about the person whom they researched with a focus on that person's historical impact.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Mickey Mantle Card Sort (attached; one per group of 3-4 students)

  • Envelopes or paper clips

  • Frayer Model handouts (attached; one per student)

  • Mickey Mantle Flipbook (attached; one per student)

  • Student devices with Internet access

  • Paper

  • Pencils


Display slide 2. Students will engage in a Not Like the Others activity where they look at four images of famous Oklahomans and try to determine how they are different, or, rather, how they might be the same. There are six slides of photos for you to choose from (slides 3-8). You can engage your students using just one slide, or, if they are up for the challenge, try all six slides.

Encourage students to find multiple differences in the groups of photos. Each time they find a difference, ask them to provide evidence or a justification for their reasoning. This is a great conversation to have because it gets students thinking critically about the details in the photos.

The notes below include some examples of responses that students might provide for each set of images.

Before continuing with the lesson, display slides 9 and 10 and share the essential question and learning objectives with students.


Now that students have analyzed some photos of famous Oklahomans, they will turn their attention to one Oklahoman in particular who made a huge impact on the game of baseball. Using a Card Sort activity, students will map out the life of Mickey Mantle.

Display slide 11. Organize students into groups of 3-4 and pass out a set of Mickey Mantle Card Sort cards to each group. Working collaboratively in their groups, instruct students to use the cards to create a timeline of Mickey Mantle's life.


Now that students have explored an overview of Mickey Mantle's life, they will get a chance to read a more detailed explanation of some of the most prominent events of his lifetime.

Display slide 12 and pass out a copy of the Mickey Mantle Flip Book to each student.

Let students know that as they read, they will be taking Thinking Notes using the following symbols:

  • Asterisk (*) next to the main idea

  • Exclamation mark (!) next to their favorite part

  • One question mark (?) next to something that they are unsure about

  • Two question marks (??) next to something that is very confusing to them

Additionally, encourage students to make connections from the reading back to the timeline that they created.

As they read, pause students intermittently to check-in. For each of the three sections, ask students to share out their favorite parts and things that they either were unsure about or found to be particularly confusing. Before offering a clarification, ask other students to weigh in. Allowing students to explain important information in their own words allows them to be active, rather than passive, participants in their own learning.

Use guiding questions to help students analyze each section. We've suggested some possible guiding questions below.

Section 1, The Man:

  • Find the two stars on the map. What do these represent?

  • How far away from our location is Commerce, Oklahoma?

  • What is an activity that you enjoy doing with your parents? With your grandparents?

  • Is there something you practice with your parents or grandparents that you want to get better at? This doesn't have to be a sport; it can be homework, reading, math, playing a musical instrument, etc.

  • How do other people's support and guidance help make you better?

  • How old was Mickey Mantle when he died?

  • How old would Mickey Mantle be today if he were still alive?

  • How might baseball be different today if Mickey Mantle's leg had been amputated?

Section 2, The Myth:

  • Imagine if, in seven years, you became instantly famous for something you love to do. What feelings and emotions might you experience?

  • How might Mickey Mantle's life be different if he were growing up today and preparing to play in the Major Leagues?

Section 3, The Legend:

  • Did Mickey Mantle continue to receive awards after he was done playing baseball? After he passed away?

  • Which awards did he receive after his career was over?

  • Are there any baseball players that you can think of that have some of these same awards as Mickey Mantle?

  • If you had a restaurant named after you, what might you call it?

  • How do you think Mickey Mantle felt about all of the fanfare surrounding his career?

Wrap up the reading by asking your students the following question: How do you think Mickey Mantle changed how baseball is played?


Display slide 13 and pass out copies of the Frayer Model handout. Now that students have had an opportunity to learn about Mickey Mantle, it's time for them to choose another famous Oklahoman to research and learn about. Students can choose one of the Oklahomans whose photos appeared at the beginning of the lesson or any other Oklahoman who has made an important contribution to history. Students will use a modified Frayer Model to organize their research.

Talk through the various sections of the Frayer Model with students:

  • Center Oval: The name of the person the student is researching

  • Upper-Left Quadrant: General Information (birth date, place of birth, nicknames, family, etc.)

  • Upper-Right Quadrant: Why is this person famous? (job, accomplishments, etc.)

  • Lower-Left Quadrant: Awards and honors

  • Lower-Right Quadrant: How did this person's work shape history?

Allow students time to read about the individuals they choose and fill out their Frayer Models using resources available in your library or online.


Display slide 14. Using their completed Frayer Models as a guide, students will create a Six-Word Memoir for their historical figure that focuses on that person's impact on history. Limiting students to six words requires them to identify the essential facts, think about their word choice, and eliminate unimportant information.

Invite students to share their Six-Word Memoirs with their classmates. Instruct students not to give away who they researched, and let their classmates see if they can guess who the six-word memoirs describe!