Teaching Students About Martin Luther King Day
Martin Luther King Day, celebrated annually on the third Monday of January, commemorates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his significant contributions to the civil rights movement in the United States. As educators, it is essential to teach students about the importance of this day and instill in them the values that Dr. King preached and fought for – equality, justice, freedom, and unity.
Inclusivity in Lesson Planning
To ensure all students can identify with and learn from Dr. King’s teachings, it is crucial to approach these lessons with inclusivity in mind. Encourage discussions surrounding different ethnicities, religions, genders, and sexual orientations – promoting a culture of empathy and understanding.
1. Start with the basics – Begin by familiarizing students with who Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was and why he is still remembered today by giving historical context. Discuss events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott, his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington, and his role in establishing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
2. Introduce primary sources – Using primary sources like videos, transcripts of speeches, photographs, or letters penned by Dr. King himself can help students better understand his message and put themselves in that historical context.
3. Explore lesser-known aspects – In addition to highlighting his most famous moments, share lesser-known facts about Dr. King’s life or work on different projects or movements to help students appreciate the depth of his commitment to change.
4. Make connections to current issues – Encourage conversations about contemporary social justice issues that parallel those during Dr. King’s time. This will not only spark meaningful dialogue but also help students recognize how history translates into enduring problems that require our collective action.
5. Create art projects – Encourage your students to express their thoughts about Dr. King’s ideals and teachings through art, such as creating posters, writing poetry, or composing songs.
6. Encourage action – Inspire your students to take action in support of social justice causes by organizing campaigns or volunteer work within their community and school.
7. Reflect – Reserve time for students to reflect on what they have learned about Dr. King, the civil rights movement, and how they can adopt these values in their daily lives.