Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Lesson in Working Together - Martin Luther King Jr.

As the old saying goes, Two heads are better than one. With my first MLK Jr. activity, however, Four heads were better than two

I stumbled upon A Year of Many Firsts as I was searching for Martin Luther King Jr. inspired lessons. I was looking for a few pre-made graphic organizers to fill up a book my students were making as we learned about MLK Jr. I finally chose the graphic organizer pictured below. I divided my students into groups of four and gave them the task of dreaming up ways to make the world a better place. My students love working in groups and I love walking around the classroom, listening to them as they think creatively and solve problems togetherI forgot to snap pictures when the students were finished with this group activity, but there were several creative responses - no one should fight, only good guys should have guns, everyone should pick up litter, people should be nice to animals, etc. I love using graphic organizers in the classroom because it helps students keep their thoughts organized. They had a great time working together and I just loved listening to them as they tried to solve all of the world's problems in 20 minutes! Click on the picture below to visit A Year of Many Firsts and download this free graphic organizer to use in your classroom. It was a great way to get my students to identify problems and discuss possible solutions. 

We read several books about MLK Jr, with Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport being a class favorite. We read a couple biographies, made a timeline of MLK Jr.'s life and the students had fun participating in a readers theater play all about MLK Jr.  

After learning about his life and what he did for the civil rights movement, the students were required to fill out another graphic organizer. We have been working really hard on identifying character traits in the books we have been reading. The students analyzed his personality based on what we learned about his life. He was brave, faithful, helpful, a peacemaker, trusting, nice, kind, smart - just to name a few. 

Each student also spent some time writing about his/her own dream to make the world a better place. Although they worked together in groups at the beginning of the unit, I wanted each student to expand on his/her own personal dreams. 

Clicking on the pictures above will direct you to Teachers Pay Teachers, where you can download both of these for free. If you don't already have an account, it only takes a few minutes to set one up. While I create a lot of my own resources, sometimes it's quicker and easier not having to reinvent the wheel. I've been incredibly happy with all of my purchases and free downloads from TPT. And best of all - I'm supporting other teachers by purchasing their classroom materials! Maybe one day I'll set up my own store on TPT...

We wrapped up our MLK Jr. unit by making the book covers you see at the top of this post. I love how even though each student followed the same pattern, each one of them is unique. I downloaded the template here and it is worth every penny. ($3.50 is quite a steal!) It was a good lesson in listening and following directions and they loved seeing his face come together as we added more and more pieces. 

I stapled the contents of the book together (everything seen above and a few fact pages) and the students shared them with their classmates. A few decades ago, simply sharing books together wouldn't have been possible. Some students wouldn't even be in my class if not for the heroic actions of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges standing up for the equality of all nations to learn together. 

What did your class do to learn about the life of Martin Luther King Jr.? 


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