Tuesday, March 13, 2018

MLK Memphis Speech Why I love using this speech with fifth graders

I am retired, but I am currently reprising my role as library teacher at Peirce School in West Newton, Ma. Every year with fifth grade I do a lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr. using his Memphis speech to the sanitation workers on April 3, 1968, the night before he was murdered. I do it because I think the kids have learned enough about his childhood, his career, and his I have a dream speech throughout their elementary years. Most of them have never heard or seen him give a different speech. I only use about 3 minutes of the speech, and then I ask them what they thought he meant by those words. He tells the crowd that he would like to live a long life, but if he does not that will be OK because he says he has "been to the mountaintop and I've looked over and I've seen the promised land" I may not get there with you, but I want you to know that we as a people will get there." I ask the kids these questions: What was the message that Dr. King was trying to convey in this clip? What did the mountaintop stand for? Why do you think Dr. King felt that It would be OK if he did not get to the mountaintop? What did he see over the mountaintop? Their responses are insightful, thoughtful, empathetic, and inspiring. We used Google Draw to create a slideshow, but more importantly, we learned a little more about the mission of Dr. King and how it still applies and affects us today. Take a look at our work: Memphis Speech slideshow by Grade 5

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