Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Study in MLK Jr. Day

We discuss Martin Luther King Jr. throughout the year, however, in order for the students to understand why they get Monday off, I decided to do a little mini lesson today during literacy to remind them.  I am a huge Patty Griffin fan and knew that her song "Up to the Mountain (the MLK Song) would be an incredible piece to study on our Music and Poetry Tuesday's.

I started out by asking the students why we get Monday off, thankfully most of them knew why and they also knew a little bit about his life.  I minored in history so I took the kids back to pre-Civil War times and told them a little bit about Jim Crow Laws.  (I don't want to go into too much detail because we explore it in social studies later this year).  Once the background had been set, we talked about the time of MLK and what they knew about him and the Civil Rights Movement.  This was at most 10 minutes of my class.

After that I knew I needed to recapture their attention because I had done a lot of talking.  So I played them a clip from MLK's Last Speech also known as his "Up to the Mountaintop" speech.  The students were amazed that they were able to watch him speak. 

We discussed how he was a preacher so he used biblical text to express his desire for his followers.  The kids completely got the duality in his speech once we had mentioned this.  I then played them a video of  Patty Griffin's song while they got a print out of the lyrics to follow along with.  Having the lyrics was helpful for them since she can be hard to fully understand.  Finally, I played the speech clip again without saying anything.  Quiet.

I asked them, "What did Patty Griffin use in her song from the speech?"  Multiple hands shot up with different answers.  They all saw the similarities.  And what is more, they understood more how powerful MLK was because they had seen him speak "live."  I ended our viewing with this short video montage from the "I Have a Dream" speech, which never ceases to amaze kids.

We finished the lesson with the students journaling on the topic:  Has MLK's dream come true that we only get judged by our character and not by how we look?


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