The Wisdom of Martin Luther King

9:56 AM

Welcome to our blog collaboration I'm thrilled to be part of it. Though I'm no longer in the classroom, I'm devoting my time to helping teachers by sharing ideas and creating resources with an emphasis on Middle School Ancient History/ELA, which is my passion. When I began my career, I taught Special Education and did that for many years. I needed a change, there was an opening in a 6th grade science class, which I taught for a few years. As luck would have it, another great opportunity opened up for me to teach ELA and World History. I would love to have you visit my personal blog, Socrates Lantern, for tips, advice, and ideas.  My Tpt store has useful resources for SPED, Elementary Grades & Middle School. 

As a child of the 60’s I remember so vividly that fateful April day in 1968 when Martin Luther King Jr. was brutally gunned down by James Earl Ray. I remember sitting by the television set, just horrified by what I had just witnessed. Thoughts kept racing through my mind about our freedom, I just couldn’t understand why such a heroic person was dead because he had “a dream.” When Bobby Kennedy was murdered in June of that year, again I sat with disbelief as I watched his assassination, live, on the television. Their deaths as well as the killing of John F. Kennedy in November of 1963 were the turning points in our lives. I felt enraged that these things could happen in our day and age.

In January,  we remember Martin Luther King Jr. and what he stood for. Equal rights, de-segregation, and tolerance of other races. To be honest, I'm horrified by what I've been seeing in the news and reading on social media. There is just so much hate in the world today. The KKK is allowed to openly march. Swastikas are painted on buildings, African Americans and Muslims are threatened. Not the world that Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists fought so hard for. 

We as a people cannot let this hate and discontent continue, we need to work together to make things right. We have to teach children to love and respect our differences. We have to help them learn tolerance and understanding of each other. We need to let them know that bullying and hurtful comments are not the American way. They will learn by watching us do the right thing. 

At this point in history we need to look to MLK's wisdom to help us in this fight against injustices.  As classroom teachers we need to have a caring environment where kids feel safe discussing anything. They need to know that we are there for them. I enjoyed having morning meetings and listening to what was on their minds. As teachers we need to listen objectively and lead them in the right direction, but to keep our own political, religious beliefs, out of the mix.

I've found that an effective way to help my kids understand others is to role play and put themselves in someone elses shoes to feel what they have felt. The old adage "One picture is worth a thousand words," is so true. You can discuss racial injustices, but to see a film about it will bring it to life. An excellent flick that will get this point across is Selma. It will easily lead into an open discussion about Martin Luther King. After you've finished watching the movie, break into groups and have the class write short skits, from the character's point of view, once completed, give them time to rehearse and present them Here are some examples you could use: Dr. King, Coretta King, a black/white civil rights marcher, a black person living then, Annie Lee Cooper, President Lyndon B. Johnson, etc. As a culmination to this activity, or instead of skits, have them write essays putting themselves in the place of characters in the film.

I’ve just finished a Martin Luther King Jr. History and Literacy Resource with many activities that you can use with your 5-8 grade classes. Here is a FREE study guide with historical facts and Task Cards about Martin Luther King Jr.

Historical Notes & Task Cards

This is the complete resource of activities to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

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by Socrates Lantern

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