Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Celebrating Dr. King with this Engaging Activity

Every year in January, our school marches in the MLK parade in downtown Wilmington. To prepare, the students and I practice "Freedom Songs" that Americans who were fighting for equal rights sang to keep their hopes up and their hearts happy in times of segregation. Some of those songs include, "Meet Me at the Back of the Bus", "Sit at the Welcome Table", "Wade in the Water" and "We Shall Overcome". Every morning this month, my class and I choose 2-3 songs to sing to start our day. I began teaching my segregation unit this week and will continue until the end of January.

I started the unit off by "introducing" Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Not surprisingly, all of my students know of him, but very surprising to me was that none of them had heard him speak before! He was a man with such a powerful voice that I thought it extremely important to share his speeches with my class.

Yesterday, I used a really great Scholastic resource that dissects Dr. King's "I have a Dream Speech", by taking each part and describing what King meant and different historical events of that time in which he was referring to. This is the book below:

Afterwards, I shared a very brief video clip of people gathering at the Lincoln Memorial while singing "We Shall Overcome". I think this was a very touching moment for students because they got to see a song they have been singing in "real life". The video can be found by clicking here. Next, I showed them a short clip of the end of Dr. King's "I have a Dream" speech. This video can be found by clicking here. After we watched this part of his speech, I asked students what they think people who were watching him felt (blacks and whites, those who opposed segregation and those who were for it). I asked students what it might be like if Dr. King had never existed. Then, each wrote a letter to him. I presented it as, if Dr, King were still alive today and he could read your letter, what would you write?

I took the students' letters and chose one line from each to compose this classroom letter to Dr. King which will be presented at the presentation we do before the MLK parade.

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