Martin Luther King, Jr. Speech Writing Lesson

Grade Levels
8th - 11th, Homeschool
Formats Included
  • PDF
18 pages
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Make your study of Martin Luther King, Jr. a literacy lesson with a primary source. Students complete a close reading of Dr. King's prophetic speech “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” and use their reading as inspiration for their own writing. With Inspired Writing, students use mentor texts as models for their own writing.

In pre-reading activities, students learn about the context of the speech and define vocabulary. Next, they complete an activity to understand allusions, and then after reading the speech, they analyze its structure using a graphic organizer. They use the same graphic organizer from the analysis to plan their own speeches. Finally, they use their pre-writing to write their speeches and take them through the writing process using 6 + 1 traits.

This 18-page product includes the following:

-explicit lesson plan with identified Common Core ELA Anchor Standards

-understanding allusions handouts

-pre-reading and contextual reading guide

-vocabulary activity

-analyzing political speeches graphic organizer

-pre-writing handout

-peer review handout

-key (includes detailed responses for all activities)

The speech for this lesson can easily be found in most English textbooks or anthologies, but links are also provided to online access of the speech in order to respect copyright.

In the spirit of King’s nonviolence philosophy, an example pre-writing graphic organizer plans for a speech envisioning a world free from gun violence and promoting universal background checks. This example can be used as a model for the students.

If interested, here are other writing lessons using mentor texts:

Dialogue Poems Inspired Writing!

Shape Poems Inspired Writing!

Imagist Poems - Inspired Writing

Memorial Design & Speech Writing



And here are some lessons featuring close reading:

Digital Resrouce CC Writing Task Road Not Taken & Harlem

Digital Writing Task Resource Ain't I a Woman? and Phenomenal Woman

Writing Task Paired Passage: First Lesson & Those Winter Sundays

Writing Task Paired Passage: Kate Chopin & William Faulkner

Gift of the Magi & How Do I Love Thee? Writing Task

Meaningful and Memorable English Language Arts by © OCBeachTeacher

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Limited to use by purchaser only.

Group licenses available.

Not for public display.

Total Pages
18 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.


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