Monday, January 16, 2012

"I Have a Dream" of Appreciated Diversity

by Rosshalde Pak

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Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is of special importance each year. Take the time to teach about him, and civil rights, by watching his speech each year to keep it fresh in mind. 

There is so much that is important and relevant to what Dr. King stood for.  What Dr. King, and the Civil Rights Movement, accomplished was monumental. Unfortunately, these values are lost on students of today, who are so removed from the reality of the Civil Rights movement more than fifty years ago. It's important to discuss diversity that can reach students and to provide thought provoking activities that speak to them.

Here are some lesson ideas, alongside other plans various educators and websites contributed, that are utilized to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King's special day:

1. Rosa Parks Bus Project–using a school bus, allow students to pick and choose their seats then discuss why they chose to sit there. Next, move the seats around having boys and girls sit separately. Have some students stand and organize by height, race, eye color, etc. Create verbal discussions about these differences. Back in the classroom, have students do journal writings reflecting on the emotional toll and thoughts they experienced during the activities.

2.Ruby Bridges-use free lesson plans from this wonderful website.

3. Have students watch ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and write reflectively on what the speech means to them;. Ask students to write their own speeches of the type of world they dream of.  If time permits, do oral presentations.

4. Have students discuss racial inequalities that exist today. Hand out inequality charts from the link. Be honest and open about today's civic problems.

5. Create a time line of historically relevant activities that show the evolution of Civil Rights.  Put students into small groups and give them particular decades to study.

6. Discuss current stereotypes and research where they came from, what they mean, and the powerful impact of those words.

7. Take time to learn about various religions. Create charts showing similarities and differences between religious beliefs. Learn about prominent people from all religions. 

8. Try Teaching Tolerance's website where tons of diversity enriched, free lesson plans can be found.

There are dozens of activities to be utilized with students. Since the Cvil Rights Movement is not something we are actively participating in but rather reading in history books, it’s time to bring that piece of history to life. It’s time to help create real history connections for our students and help them produce a world where we can be appreciated for our uniqueness, and, perhaps, even be celebrated for it. 

At least, that’s my dream for our future...

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