Honoring Dr. King
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Middle School Lesson Plan

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The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Middle School


While reading Dr. King's biography and engaging in teacher-directed
activities, students will:

  • define terms associated with the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
  • sequence major events in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • create a display dramatizing scenes from Dr. King's life.


Guided Reading

Download Guided Reading Student Handout

Before students read "The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.," have students complete the matching exercise below.

_____ 1. to join others in refusing to buy from a certain seller or to use a particular service a.     reformer
_____ 2. the rights and privileges of a citizen guaranteed in the U. S. Constitution b.     Jim Crow
_____ 3. laws in southern states that treated African Americans unfairly c.     segregation
_____ 4. the act of opening a school, park, neighborhood, or other facility to all races d.     civil rights
_____ 5. an organized procession in support of or against something e.     nonviolence
_____ 6. a person who objects or shows disapproval f.     boycott
_____ 7. a person who works for or urges change g.     sit-in
_____ 8. a demonstration in which people refuse to move from a public place as a protest against an unjust policy h.     protester
_____ 9. the practice of using peaceful means to achieve a goal i.     march
_____ 10. the act of separating a group from the rest of society in schools, churches, theaters, and other public facilities j.     integration

Tell students to read the biography and to use the context of each word to figure out its meaning. Then have them match each word in the above list with the correct definition. Go over the answers with the class. (1f, 2d, 3b, 4j, 5i, 6h, 7a, 8g, 9e, 10c)


Cooperative Learning Activity

After students finish reading "The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.," organize the class into groups. Have each group draw a line on a banner-length sheet of paper, write 1925 at the beginning of the line and 1970 at the end, and divide the line into equal segments with 5-year intervals. Then ask group members to write each year from the reading at the appropriate point on the line. Tell them to discuss the events from Dr. King's life for each year and to decide on one event to write next to the year. Suggest group members illustrate the events with drawings. Display the illustrated time lines in the classroom.


Team-Teaching Strategy

Download Team-Teaching Strategy Student Handout

Materials needed are lightweight cardboard, colored pencils and markers, scissors, shoeboxes, tape, and Internet access.

Have students use the Internet to view a photo of Dr. King delivering the speech "I Have a Dream" in Washington, DC.

Ask the art teacher to point out the foreground, middle ground, and background in the picture. Then have the art teacher help students make separate drawings of the three sections on cardboard and to cut out the drawings, including tabs on the bottom. Ask students to make three rows of slits, one row in front of the other, in one side of a shoebox. Then have them fit the tabs inside the slits, creating a three dimensional picture of Dr. King giving his speech. Have students secure the tabs with tape on the underside of their diorama.


On the board, list the following names of people and places:

Martin Luther King, Sr. Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Montgomery, Alabama
Mohandas K. Gandhi Birmingham, Alabama
Coretta Scott King New York City
Rosa Parks Washington, D.C.
John F. Kennedy Chicago, Illinois
Malcolm X Memphis, Tennessee
Lyndon B. Johnson  

Ask students to choose 10 of the 15 names and write a sentence explaining the significance of each person or place in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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