Speaking Up for What's Right

Speaking Up for What's Right lesson plan

This powerful diorama pays tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrate his historic civil rights speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

  • 1.

    Not very long ago, laws in the United States did not give African Americans the same rights and privileges as other people. Although African Americans had fought in wars to protect the country and paid taxes to the U.S. government, they were not allowed to travel, go to school, eat, work, or live wherever they wished. Many events helped to galvanize African Americans and civil rights advocates to act to change these discriminatory laws.

  • 2.

    The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., became one of the most well-known leaders of the civil rights movement. He introduced the notion of nonviolent protest to the cause and led thousands of people to show their support in peaceful ways. Where did King get this idea for nonviolent protest? Why did he think this political strategy would work in the United States? Challenge students to invetigate answers to these questions.

  • 3.

    Dr. King was the keynote speaker at the largest demonstration for human rights in the country. He led the Civil Rights March of 1963 through Washington, D.C., to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. There, before 250,000 people, King gave what is now called his "I Have A Dream" speech. Research the setting and content of his speech. Why do you think it is so memorable? Discuss responses in among small groups of students.

  • 4.

    King chose a powerful place to talk about freedom---at the feet of a famous statue of President Lincoln! Students find a picture of the Lincoln Memorial and the Mall that spreads before it. Using white Crayola® Model Magic, challenge each group to construct the Lincoln Memorial, complete with its columns and front steps. Sculpt the statue of Lincoln inside the building. Allow to air-dry.

  • 5.

    Using Crayola Scissors, students cut the top off a recycled tissue box. Cut down the sides and flatten. With Crayola Construction Paper Crayons, illustrate the area around the Lincoln Memorial. Rub crayons over the box for a textured background.

  • 6.

    Draw construction paper shapes of people and trees and attach with Crayola School Glue. Cut blue construction paper and glue it under the flattened box to make the Reflecting Pool.

  • 7.

    On a recycled file folder, cut out a figure of Martin Luther King, Jr. standing at the podium speaking about his dream for the United States. Use Crayola Multicultural Markers to add detail to his imposing figure. Glue his figure to the steps of monument. Cut out paper crowds of people who marched on Washington. Color with Crayola Washable Markers. Glue to the floor of the box.

  • 8.

    Present your diorama and discuss King's closing words: "Free at last, free at last, Thank God, I am free at last!" Do you believe that his dream has come true? Explain why or why not.

Standards

  • LA: Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.
  • LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.
  • SS: Explore factors that contribute to one's personal identity such as interests, capabilities, and perceptions.
  • SS: Identify and describe examples of tensions between and among individuals, groups, or institutions, an dhow belonging to more than one group can cause internal conflicts.
  • SS: Recognize how groups and organizations encourage unity and deal with diversity to maintain order and security.
  • SS: Recognize and give examples of the tensions between the wants and needs of individuals and groups, and concepts such as fairness, equity, and justice.
  • VA: Select media, techniques, an processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of choices.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.
  • VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.

Adaptations

  • Possible classroom resources include: I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr; My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith Ringgold; History for Kids: The Illustrated Life of Martin Luther King Jr. by Charles River Editors; Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton; Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles; Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M. Hoose
  • Students investigate the childhood and professional career of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other well-known civil rights leaders of the time. Organize research into electronic presentations for classmates.
  • Encourage students to create a timeline of events of the Civil Rights Movement. On the timeline, students record 1-2 sentences on each event. Post timelines in the class for review by classmates.
  • Working in small groups, students re-read or view King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Discuss the question, "Has Martin Luther King's dream come true?" Why or why not?
  • Invite a community member that participated in the March to visit the class and discuss what he heard and saw. Prior to the meeting, students compose questions for the expert. After the meeting, students post learning to a class blog.