MLK: Close Reading, Comprehension, & Writing

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Winter break has come and gone for some, and is soon coming to a close for others. Let the countdown to Martin Luther King holiday weekend begin! National holiday aside, MLK Jr. is still a relevant figure to our world 50 years later. With words such as “The time is always right to do what is right,” the message he stands for is one I want to continue to make sure to pass on to my students.

There is no shortage of fantastic MLK Jr. lesson plans and activities on Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest. The one I’m sharing today is very straightforward and simple. It’s got you covered in the areas of close reading, reading comprehension, and writing, so it would make for a great accompaniment to any MLK activity you’ve got planned.

I’ll be having students do a close reading of this reading passage, and review facts about MLK Jr. through multiple readings and annotating. My second graders circle key words, draw stars to identify main ideas, and underline the details.

After reading, I’ll do a “Mix Pair Share” to check for understanding. It’s likely that you know this Kagan cooperative learning activity or a variation of it, but here’s a quick explanation in case you’re unfamiliar:

  • Play music as the kids walk around the room.
  • When the music stops, they high-five and pair up with another student.
  • Ask a question about the text and they discuss with their partner.
  • A few students share out with the whole group.
  • The kids shake hands and thank their partner.
  • Start the music again and repeat with different partners and new questions.

After the verbal practice, the kids can practice writing “Great Short Answers” (answers that are complete sentences and that rephrase the question).

I plan to have students complete the questions above through a “Jigsaw” activity:

  • Put students in groups of three and assign each person one question.
  • Each person works on their own to write their best “Great Short Answer” to their specifically assigned question.
  • All three students take turns sharing their work with the group. This is an opportune time to encourage collaborative conversation. Group members can respectfully comment on each other’s answers and help each other edit and make revisions as needed.
  • Everyone writes down the other answers that their group shared.

If you’d like to tie in some additional writing after your kids read about MLK, this final draft writing paper is perfect for an informative paragraph or any writing assignment on him.

All three of these resources (the Close Reading passage, comprehension questions, and writing paper) are available here in one spot on Teachers Pay Teachers.

I’ll be back next week to share another resource for more American heroes like Martin Luther King!

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