Understanding the Contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

SCDS primary grades faculty capitalized on time set aside for K-2 collaborative learning to introduce and reinforce students’ understanding of Dr. Martin Luther King’s contributions as a leader. Near the federal holiday vacation day, students were placed into mixed grade cohorts for a lesson that involved creating posters with words and pictures expressing his ideas and ideals.

The lesson was introduced by our librarian reading aloud My Brother Martin and first grade teacher sharing Martin’s Big Words, both picture book biographies. Many students also recalled learning about Dr. King in kindergarten as part of a social studies unit that looks at heroes and their accomplishments.

Primary students were then divided into mixed-grade small groups that immediately started buzzing with ideas about what the poster should look like and what thoughts the group wanted to express. The small group size supported sharing ideas from all three grades, and older students were able to help younger students struggling to complete their thoughts by soliciting more information from them and offering possible vocabulary words. All ideas were considered within a group, and all students contributed to the posters.

The following poster statements reflect the students’ thoughtful and collaborative spirit:
• Together the World is Better
• Love, Martin Luther King, Jr. Stood Up for Us
• We All Have Rights
• Love: Everybody is Equal
• Love is Stronger than Anger!
Buddy activities are among the many methods used to support the SCDS K-8 character development program. SCDS also utilizes cross-grade buddy opportunities in math, science, music, and language arts collaborations. This particular activity also helped students understand the purpose of Dr. King’s work by, as a teacher commented, “making Dr. King’s legacy real through a hands-on, collaborative activity. Students came up with their ideas unprompted and were very effective in their support of one another in the group.”

Does your school do something similar?

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