A Dozen Resources to Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - National Council of Teachers of English
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A Dozen Resources to Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In anticipation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, engage with these classroom resources focused on Dr. King and texts he wrote. The materials below, all from ReadWriteThink.org, range from mini-lessons to complete units and span all grade bands.

  1. In 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. was born on this day. (Grades K–12)
    Students study Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and work in groups to create a mural that depicts Dr. King’s vision of peace.
  2. Living the Dream: 100 Acts of Kindness (Grades K–2)
    This lesson provides the “action piece” for any study of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In this project, students participate in Dr. King’s dream by doing 100 acts of kindness.
  3. Martin Luther King Jr. and Me: Identifying with a Hero (Grades K–2)
    This lesson provides ideas for celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day by encouraging students to explore the connections between Dr. King and themselves through journaling and inquiry-based research.
  4. Captioning the Civil Rights Movement: Reading the Images, Writing the Words (Grades 2-8) Teachers guide students to carefully view images from the Civil Rights Movement and write captions that accurately describe the images and/or their probable purposes.
  5. How Big Are Martin’s Big Words? Thinking Big about the Future (Grades 3–5)
    Inspired by the book Martin’s Big Words, students explore information on Dr. King to think about his “big” words, then they write about their own “big” words and dreams.
  6. Entering History: Nikki Giovanni and Martin Luther King Jr. (Grades 6–8)
    Nikki Giovanni’s poem “The Funeral of Martin Luther King Jr.” is paired with Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, taking students on a quest through time to the Civil Rights movement.
  7. Every Punctuation Mark Matters: A Minilesson on Semicolons (Grades 6–8)
    Students analyze stylistic choices and grammar use in authentic writing, focusing on the use of the semicolon in Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
  8. Analyzing Famous Speeches as Arguments (Grades 9–12)
    Students identify the rhetorical strategies in a famous speech and the specific purpose for each chosen device.
  9. I Have a Dream: Exploring Nonviolence in Young Adult Texts (Grades 9–12)
    Students will identify how Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of nonviolent conflict resolution is reinterpreted in modern texts. Homework is differentiated to prompt discussion on how nonviolence is portrayed through characterization and conflict. Students will be formally assessed on a thesis essay that addresses the Six Kingian Principles of Nonviolence.
  10. Exploring the Power of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Words through Diamante Poetry (Grades 9–12)
    Students explore the ways that powerful and passionate words communicate the concepts of freedom, justice, discrimination, and the American Dream in Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
  11. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. (Grades K–12)
    Students explore the “I Have a Dream” Foundation’s website and brainstorm ways they can help themselves or others at their school achieve their educational dreams.
  12. Word Mover Online Tool or Mobile App (Grades 3–12)
    Word Mover allows children and teens to create “found poetry” by choosing from word banks and existing famous works, including “I Have a Dream.” Additionally, users can add new words to create a piece of poetry by moving/manipulating the text.