Saturday, January 31, 2015

Martin Luther King Day

For the last two years, I taught Math and Science. It killed me because I never had enough time to stray from the curriculum to teach things like Martin Luther King Jr. Day other than by watching our CNN Student News broadcast for 10 minutes.

As a Reading teacher this year, I still have no time to teach everything I am supposed to. However, I AM able to mold important holidays to match the curriculum. So, I did just that with Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Prior Knowledge Bubble Map
I had students draw a basic bubble map on a blank sheet of computer paper. Students then had to fill in only one of their bubbles with a fact that they already knew. I was SHOCKED at the misconceptions that students had. One even thought that MLK Jr. fought in the Civil War! Yikes!

Once students filled in their one bubble, I gave them 4 minutes to walk around to other students to find 3 more facts to fill their bubbles with. We've worked hard to have positive discussions and using complete sentences when speaking. So, I gave these very specific instructions: 

1. Question: "What is your fact about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?"
2. Answer: "My fact about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is ___________."
3. Response: "Thank you!" OR "I'm sorry, I already have that fact written. Do you have another fact about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?"

BrainPop Video
We used the BrainPop Video to add facts to our bubble maps. Best part?! The MLK Jr. BrainPop video is free, so if your school does not have a subscription you can still view it!

Teaching Perspective
For the weeks leading up to MLK Day, we had been focusing as a class on different perspectives of events. Students have been challenged to look at multiple accounts of stories to see the whole picture. Hiding on my classroom bookshelves, I found this gem: 
My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris
Needless to say, it is no longer on the bookshelf but safely tucked away on the bookshelves. I read aloud the text as students added even more facts to their bubble map. They added fun facts like MLK Jr. loved to play pranks with his brothers and he had "white friends."

Putting it All Together
Each student was then given a sticky note (somehow you write it on a sticky note and the activity becomes 10 times more exciting). Students had to choose the fact from their bubble map that they found to be the most interesting and write it on their sticky note. They had to stand up and read their fact to the class (who were reminded to keep their eyes on the speaker) and add it to our large class bubble map on the white board. 

Students LOVED this activity. Their homework that night? Go home and share your bubble map with your family, see if you learned facts that they didn't even know!

What activities do you do with your students for special holidays? How do you make the time to teach such important REAL WORLD historical events?