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Problem: Students sometimes have trouble relating to historically significant people, places, or events. I wanted to make sure my kids had a basic understanding of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s work and his important contributions to civil rights. I also needed a lesson that was flexible enough to fit various time constraints.
Solution: I wanted to approach this subject from a child's point of view. If students could connect to Martin's anger and humiliation in the shoe store incident and his daughter's disappointment and "unconscious bitterness toward white people" about the amusement park, then they would understand why the Civil Rights Movement was such a vital step in our growth as a country and a united people.
We created a short article of kid-friendly basic background information. The anecdotes were chosen to resonate with children. A writing prompt gets kids thinking about the kind of America Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned for all children. Discussion questions are a jumping off point for a guided class conversation or they can be completed in writing in class or as homework.
Results: My students connected more this year than in previous years. It made it real for them in a way I hadn't previous taught. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us a lesson that should never be forgotten.
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