I’m conducting a grand experiment! I’m attempting to teach Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in great detail and tremendous depth without actually teaching at all. I’m trying to be a facilitator. But I want my students to dissect that text! I want them to see the beauty and the power in Dr. King’s use of figurative language and his brilliant word choice. But I promise, I didn’t say that to my students. I just told them he uses each word purposefully and that he helped change the world with the power of his words. Maybe that was too much, but how could I NOT say that?!?! I mean, it’s my dream human, my absolute hero, Dr. King. He fought racism and discrimination, and he was an eloquent speaker and writer. What more could I aspire to be?!
But I digress. Two weeks ago, we watched the speech while reading and following along in the text. Have you done this? Not with your class. Just on your own! If you’re like me, the odds are that you haven’t. But let me tell you, you absolutely should. I tell people they should get manicures. They should read more. They should use moisturizer. But if you do nothing else, you really SHOULD watch the entire speech (17 minutes) while reading the text. It’s a totally new experience, and you really see how carefully King crafted this speech. It’s absolutely brilliant.
Students highlighted ideas that stuck out to them. This was a learning moment for me. My students who were stronger readers did well, but it seemed the lower the reading level, the more student highlighted. They really were trying. And I believe they really did enjoy the speech and even drew inspiration and encouragement from it. They just couldn’t distinguish the most important or inspiring ideas. I’ll adjust for next time!
Then, we used the structure Save the Last Word for Me to facilitate discussions on the speech. And we closed by having students write either a question, a comment, or a connection on a sticky note.
The next week, we re-read the first three paragraphs and re-watched the first few minutes of the speech to correspond. We repeated Save the Last Word for Me, but I only allowed students to highlight one idea. I did still have one student who highlighted ONE entire paragraph. I’m working on it! Then I had students write a question to discuss on a sticky note. I promised a sticker to students who wrote excellent questions, and let me tell you, 13 and 14 years olds do love stickers. Next, students could place their questions under the correct QAR on the wall, and we repeated our closure activity with comments and connections.
I wasn’t totally thrilled with their questions, but I am very very proud that there are no right there or think and search questions!
We need to work on spelling, but I was pleased to see they noticed the metaphors.
Check back later for more of the adventure. I’ve had recent conversations picking the brains of two of my colleagues I respect more than anyone (Lily! Jessica!). Those conversations combined with a little breathing room this week for my brain by way of Fall Break have helped me focus and shine a light down the path I think will be best for my kids.