ELA / Instruction / Social Studies / Special Occasions · January 13, 2021

Being a Champion for Equality, Justice, and Peace

Martin Luther King dreamt of a world more tolerant than the one he lived in. He stood for equality, justice, and peace; qualities we hope to find evident in every classroom in America. I encourage you to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s dreams and life, not only on Martin Luther King, Jr Day, but everyday.

If you find nothing else from this blog post, I hope you please check out this animated version of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. It is a powerful and visual way to approach this text and can help students understand Martin Luther King’s words in a deeper and more meaningful way. 

Engaging in Choice Boards

Grade Level: K-6
Interested in having your students freely explore the ideas around the civil rights movement and the life of Martin Luther King, Jr? Utilize these choice boards by adapting and inserting one of these slides into Seesaw or Canvas. 

Read Alouds

MLK’s message was not exclusively about race, but also about gender stereotypes, poverty, and privilege. Read quality text in your classroom about these topics. Find books that represent black Americans that were trailblazers. Continue to read about social justice and what that looks like in America today. Here you can find a list of 18 picture books that help keep Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream alive.

Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport

Doreen Rappaport has taken the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. to create a captivating yet accessible book for young readers. This biography, in the form of a picture book, paints an unforgettable picture of a man whose dream changed the world. 

Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton

“A niece of Dr. King’s, Paula Young Shelton wasn’t yet a year old when her parents moved the family from New York City back to the South in order to be on the front lines of the civil rights movement. Paula narrates this moment in history from the perspective of her 4-year-old self, making the story uniquely accessible for young readers.”

Websites for Students to Explore

Teaching Tolerance Resources and Lessons

Unfamiliar with TeachingTolerance.org? Learn more about their mission and vision here

How to teach MLK in Connection With the Attack on the U.S. Capitol. 
Looking for a way to connect recent events with Martin Luther King day? The resources above can help you find appropriate ways to help students acknowledge the link between the racism he resisted and the violence we witnessed at the Capitol. These resources will help foster related discussions within the context of U.S. history.

Teaching about King’s radical approach to social justice
“While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches and work are often sugarcoated, it’s important to teach that King championed economic justice and taught Black self-love while also pushing back against neutrality, imperialism and systemic racism.”

Martin Luther King, Jr
Grade level 3-5
A lesson based around the essential question of “Can words about identity hurt people?” and “How can I live, work and play with others when we have differences?”. Includes texts, teaching strategies, and student activities. 

Dear Martin
Grade Level: 6-8
A lesson based around the essential question of “What does it mean to be accepting?” Including multiple poems, texts, listening guides, and activities for students to use to help reflect on their learning. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Grade Level 6-8, 9-12
A lesson based around the essential question of “What contributions have people made to justice and fairness historically?” Includes both a poem and a text to help support students in the classroom.

Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Grade Level 9-12
A lesson based around the essential question of “How did Martin Luther King Jr. change America?”. Includes a poem, socratic seminar discussion, and a student activity. 

Seesaw Activities

Consider embedding your essential standards into activities surrounding Martin Luther King’s life and words. Be sure to search the Seesaw activity library for more ideas!

The Sneetches and “I have a Dream” 
Grade Level: 4-6
Have students analyze the genre and theme of both the Sneetches and MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Compare how the authors demonstrated a similar theme across different genres.

ABC Order
Grade Level: K-2
Talk about vocabulary centered around MLK day. Talk about these words and why they matter. Then put the words into ABC order.  

MLK Important Events Graphic Organizer
Grade Level: 2-6
Adapt and use this graphic organizer with any MLK text. 

I Have A Dream
Grade Level: K-6
After discussing MLK’s dreams, have students come up with their own dream for the world with this template.