Grades 6-8 Lesson: Closing in on the Dream Blog Feature

By: Lindsey Graff on February 10th, 2014

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Grades 6-8 Lesson: Closing in on the Dream

Grade Level: Secondary (7-12) | Grade Level: Intermediate (3-6) | VariQuest Tools: Poster Maker 3600 | Academic Subject: Social Studies and History | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Featured Topics: Templates for FREE download

Students conduct a close reading of I Have a Dream, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and answer text-dependent questions to analyze how an idea is introduced, illustrated and elaborated upon in a text.

In recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and African American History Month, have students investigate the text of Dr. King’s speech, I Have a Dream. 

Prior to this activity, print multiple copies of I Have a Dream, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one for each student.  Click here to download an excerpt from the speech.  Note: Based on your students, decide if you will use the entire speech or an excerpt.

Enlarge the text of the I Have a Dream speech using the scan-to-print feature on the Poster Maker 3600. Use this poster as a visual during discussion of the reading.

Distribute copies of the text to students.  Have students conduct an initial reading of the text, by first numbering the paragraphs, then reading and marking the text*. 

After the initial reading, if possible, play a video of Dr. King’s speech.  For video of the speech visit TeacherTube: http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=20916.  (Playback of the excerpt provided begins at 5:30). 

Hand out a set of text-dependent questions to small groups of students.  These questions should require students to revisit the text to look for evidence of how the theme of equality is introduced, illustrated and elaborated upon in Dr. King’s speech. 

  • What is Dr. King’s message in this speech?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • One theme of Dr. King’s speech is equality.  Find two lines that he uses to communicate this theme.  Underline them in the text
  • Dr. King uses repetition in his speech.  Find two examples of this and star them.  Explain how his use of repetition reinforces his message. 

Have students work together to answer these questions, then discuss them as a class.  During the discussion, call upon students to highlight evidence from the text that supports their answers and explain how they marked the text on the poster-sized copy of the text. 

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*For more information on marking the text and other close reading strategies using VariQuest, check out the blog post here: http://www.variquest.com/lessons-activities/close-reading-the-common-core-standards-for-english-language-arts/).