After a couple weeks, and a much needed break, we headed back to school last Tuesday.  Monday we were off for a furloughed records day, but I thought it was amazing to only have a 4 day week that first week back.  With it being a shorter week, switching things up in my reading block a bit, and wanting time to review procedures, I decided not to do our regular reading block.  Instead, I introduced Martin Luther King Jr. to the kids.  As luck, our mother nature, would have it, Tuesday was our only day in school last week, and thanks to that, we’ll now be attending on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day, so I’m sue we’ll continue to study his life and legacy throughout the next couple weeks.

To begin, I did my annual reading of Martin’s Big Words where I purposefully put select students in the back of the room, tell them they can’t sit up or stand to see, and then begin very quietly reading to the group in front of me.  I generally make it about 4 pages or so before I give in to the complaints that the kids in the back can’t see, and I call everyone forward.  I realize that this might be a little controversial for some, but it works for my students and I.  After we finished reading, we discussed how Dr. King used his words to create positive change in our country, and how we often spread messages of love.  I then challenged my students to think of what they can do to create a positive change in our classroom, and community.  I tied everything into bullying because it’s something the kids can relate to and have seen in their daily lives.  We turned it into a Pop Art display in our room.  To see all of the details on how we set it up, click the picture below to head over to the Ellison Education blog to see the information.

I found these anti-bullying pledge cards at Dollar Tree over winter break and grabbed a set.  They were the perfect tie in for bullying and helped bring relevance to our studies.  Plus, the kids really benefitted from a reminder about being kind to each other.  They were starting to nag and nit pick each other.  I also love that they were only $1!  Holla!

We then started reading about Dr. King with a much more complex text than Martin’s Big Words.  This three page biography goes through Dr. King’s childhood, to his work with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, to his meetings with President Kennedy.  We’ve been practicing close reading with the text as well.

Not only are students interacting with a complex text, but the comprehension questions really require the students to go back to the text to find evidence to support their answers.  The questions are inferential, so it really helps stretch the students.  With testing season just a few weeks away, we really need to practice test taking skills in relevant and meaningful ways to help prepare the students.

You can download this MLK freebie from my TpT store by clicking below.

If you like this set, it’s part of my larger African-American Heroes set.  It includes biographies on Dr. King and 8 other African-Americans who helped bring change to America.  Each biography includes real photographs, and constructed and extended response questions for each text.

You can get this unit by clicking the image above or below to head to my TpT store.

I’d love to hear other ideas for how you incorporate Dr. King’s memory into your classrooms.  We’re going to continue to talk about him the next couple weeks and then continue going through and studying people like Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, The Little Rock Nine, and Madam C.J. Walker (which is really relevant for my kids since we’re in Indiana).

How do you teach Dr. King in your classroom?

I’m also linking up for Hump Day Highlight with Mrs. Stanford’s Class.