Celebrating Martin Luther King Day

MLK Day, Martin Luther King Day Lesson, MLK Activity

Like a lot of teachers, I love to teach students to analyze a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to celebrate MLK Day...however, it's not his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.  Don't get me wrong, I love King's "I Have a Dream Speech."  I mean, it's amazing.  However, I've found that by the time students get to me in middle school, they've been exposed to the speech several times.  So, instead of teaching King's most famous speech, I like to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. each year with a short unit on King's speech, "What is Your Life's Blueprint?"  


MLK Lesson

Have you ever read or heard the speech?  If so, you know that it was given by King just six months before his assassination to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia.  In his speech he asks students to consider their life's blueprint.  Their plan for success in life.  Then, he outlines a few elements that should be part of their blueprints including a strong belief in their "somebodiness", determination to do their very best, and a strong work ethic.

Every year when I read the part where he says, "If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures.  Sweep streets like Beethoven composed music.  Sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera.  Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry," I tear up a little bit.  His message is so beautiful and so very important.

In my classroom, students study the speech with a 2-3 day mini-unit that has students building historical background on segregation, Jim Crow Laws, The Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the Civil Rights Movement before reading the speech.  Then, students read a biographical passage on Martin Luther King.  Finally, students do a close reading of the speech as they first react to the speech, then make connections and analyze the speech, and ultimately reflect on the speech.

MLK Day Lesson

The interactive elements designed for the unit certainly keep students motivated and engaged.  However, I truly believe that King's timeless message is what helps my students appreciate and honor Martin Luther King each January.  His message is clear...


It's a message worth teaching year after year.

If you'd like to learn more about the Interactive Notebook Resource or would prefer a more traditional version of the mini-unit, you can check them out here (interactive notebook) and here (student packet).


Here's another way to celebrate Martin Luther King Day in the classroom!  It's a 5-day unit that addresses many critical ELA skills as students develop a deep understanding and connection to Martin Luther King, Jr.  The unit is based on a nonfiction passage about King.


While studying about King, students practice critical skills including reading comprehension, identifying nonfiction text features, participating in group discussions, analyzing a quote, cooperative learning and writing.

Teach students all about Martin Luther King, Jr. with this set of fun and engaging lessons!

The activities are interactive, engaging, and educational.  If you'd like to learn more about the Martin Luther King, Jr. mini-unit, you can check it out here.
 Martin Luther King Unit

Thanks for stopping by!
Mary Beth


And if you get a chance, please...






1 comment:

  1. So wish I was still teaching Soc or Language Arts right now! This is a beautiful speech and love how you highlighted some of King's lesser known works. I think it's important to keep things novel in the classroom, because you're right; when we reteach the same things over and over the kids tune out the message. I love how this speech reaffirms that a person has dignity in any role if they put their heart in it. Thanks for sharing!

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