Teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my favorite things about my job, hands down. One might think that it would be a fine line to walk dealing with such young students, but in all honesty, it is their youthful bliss to ignorance of the past that makes this such a rewarding unit to teach. Every year, the kids are purely blown away and appalled at the laws and conditions that existed way before they can even fathom.
It’s hard for them to imagine such social norms when they live in a 21st century world where race is becoming more and more insignificant. What they can fathom; however, is the atrocity of the inequitable laws that affected so many. I wish I could capture their faces, expressions, and questions every time I introduce them to the world pre-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The world (today and long ago) could learn a lot from these open-minded, innocent souls!
Recently, I was tutoring a little one, and we were reading this Reading A-Z book about George Washington Carver. We came to multiple points in the book that highlight George’s struggle to get an education based on his race, and this sweet little boy looked up at me with wide eyes and said, “I can’t believe this actually happened! It’s so weird!” It’s so refreshing to witness such a blank slate at work, and it gives me hope for the generation that we are teaching. Brings tears to my eyes!
With that being said, it is very important to me to use every minute & every second of our social studies block this month to communicate Dr. King’s message to my students. We focus a lot on his “I Have a Dream” speech and use this opportunity to discuss ways in which they want to change the world for the better. This might be my favorite project we do all year:
While teaching in such a military-heavy community, this dream tugs extremely at my heartstrings.
To create this project, I take photographs of the students and encourage them to show me their best “thinking pose” and snap away. Once the photos are printed, we cut along the outline (sometimes I utilize my fabulous parent volunteers for this task) and glue onto a piece of black construction paper. Then, I print copies of this thinking bubble and the students write their dream for the world. Click below for copy:
I wish I had an entire album dedicated to the dreams of my students, but I promise you that if you do this with your own, you will be rewarded year after year. Enjoy and may peace be with you!
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