Teaching Notes for Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, you may want to show the “I Have a Dream” speech to your students.  I have found that this speech is captivating for elementary school students, but it is absolutely necessary for you to teach them about the speech before they listen.

I’d like to share my teaching notes (pdf) on MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech with you and your students.  I hope it helps you teach the historical context, allusions, and rhetorical techniques.  If you copy my teaching notes for your students, I suggest you read the speech with them and explain the context.  Then, listening to Dr. King give the speech will be an unforgettable experience for your students.

Why are teaching notes so important?  The “I Have a Dream” speech is rich in allusions: historical, biblical, and even financial.  Your students will appreciate these allusions—if they know about them.

Take the first few paragraphs: will your students understand the significance of the speech’s setting, the Lincoln Memorial, and the phrase “a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today” if you don’t explain these details?  Will your students understand how the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution compare to a promissory note?  My teaching notes explain these details clearly.

What about the famous part of the speech, at the end?  For example, knowledge of geography is essential to understanding the “let freedom ring” section.  Dr. King begins it with “let freedom ring…” [in famous landmarks of northern and western states]… “But not only that.  Let freedom ring…” in famous landmarks in the southern states.]  The sequence will be more memorable for your students if they understand this distinction.  Without teaching notes, your students might miss much of the meaning.

I recommend you buy the Martin Luther King Jr. – I Have a Dream speech on DVD rather than listen to the speech through the Internet.  This DVD introduces the speech with real footage of events leading up to it.  You can also watch a featurette about the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.  Your students will enjoy seeing the marchers and will be impressed with how well-dressed the marchers are.  (Every year, this is the first thing my students notice.)

Free “I Have a Dream” speech at AmericanRhetoric.com

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Jan 16, 2017

 

Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 3

Leap Year Idioms

Teachers, here is a FREE Leap Year worksheet written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy it! Here is the Answer Key.

This worksheet helps you teach students about idioms—a commonly assessed concept on state standardized tests. Have some Leap Year fun with idioms based on the word “leap” or “year.”

If you haven’t seen them already, check out Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 1: Leap Year Reading and Writing

Part 2: “Fun with Leap Year and Leap Day” reading comprehension and Leap Year Math

Posted in FREE Worksheets,Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Feb 1, 2016

 

Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 2

Fun Reading Comprehension and Leap Year Math

Teachers, here are FREE Leap Year worksheets written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy them!

Here is an enjoyable reading comprehension worksheet called “Fun with Leap Year and Leap Day.” The passage and questions are indeed fun. What other worksheet challenges you to figure out what Pope Paul III and Ja Rule have in common? (Answer: they were both born on Leap Day.)

You and your students will enjoy learning about Leap Year luck (or lack thereof), Leap Year marriage proposals in Ireland, and the quandary posed by a Leap Year birthday in The Pirates of Penzance. The questions are all opinion based—and in my opinion, you shouldn’t grade them! Give students credit for completion, then go home and kick back to enjoy the rest of Leap Day.

Next is my fun “Was it a Leap Year?” worksheet that lets students apply their knowledge of divisibility by 4. Hints for determining divisibility by 4 are at the bottom of the page. The worksheet teaches a special case: century years. Because a revolution around the sun does not quite take 365.25 days, only century years divisible by 400 are Leap Years. The worksheet gives a student-friendly explanation and challenges them to determine if a century year was or wasn’t a Leap Year.  I also have provided an Answer Key as a separate download.

Don’t forget to download the other two worksheets in Free Leap Year Worksheets Part One.

Happy Leap Year!

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays by Corey Green @ Jan 25, 2016

 

Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 1

Reading Comprehension and Writing Nonfiction

Teachers, here are FREE Leap Year worksheets written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy them!

The first one is a reading comprehension worksheet about Leap Year.  It’s a good, basic introduction to the concept of Leap Year that is appropriate for third grade and up.

Next is a writing worksheet about how and why Julius Caesar created Leap Year and rearranged the calendar. To shake things up a little, this worksheet challenges students to write a newspaper article about the event. The article gives “notes” our fictitious reporter took at the press conference—in a handy who, what, where, when, why format.

Stay tuned for Free Leap Year Worksheets Part Two: Leap Year trivia reading comprehension and Leap Year math!

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays by Corey Green @ Jan 19, 2016

 

In Flanders Fields: a salute to veterans

book“In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses…”

Now we call it Veterans Day, but it used to be known as Armistice Day, marking the cessation of hostilities on the western front on “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”

Veterans Day is the perfect time to share with your students the famous poem of World War I, “In Flanders Fields.”  This haunting poem vividly captures the scene at the Second Battle of Ypres.  It was written by Col. John McCrae, a Canadian physician treating soliders at the battle.  He was particularly affected by the death of a young friend and former student, Lt. Alexis Helmer of Ottawa.  Lt. Helmer was buried in the cemetery outside McCrae’s dressing station, and the doctor performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

Col. McCrae wrote “In Flanders Fields” during one of his breaks.  Legend has it that he rejected the poem, but that a fellow officer sent it to be considered for publication.  The poem became hugely popular.  Canadian professor and humanitarian Moina Michael composed a poem inspired by “In Flanders Fields” and vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance of those who served in the war.  After the war, she taught a class of disabled veterans and pursued the idea of selling silk poppies to raise funds to assist disabled veterans.

You and your students will enjoy the picture book In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae.  This beautifully illustrated book tells the story far better than a blog post ever could.

Note: to understand the poem, students need to know that poppies are opiates that cause people to sleep.  Poppies, particularly blood-red poppies, have long been used as symbols of death and sleep.  In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead.  I describe an image that’s easy for children to understand—the Wicked Witch of the West casting poppies in the fields as Dorothy et.al. approached the Wizard of Oz.

Download my worksheet (pdf) about “In Flanders Fields.”

Read on to enjoy this beautiful and haunting poem.

In Flanders Fields
by Col. John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Nov 9, 2015

 

Constitution Day

Washington_Constitutional_Convention_1787Teach your students about the Constitution using FREE high-quality resources.  Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics.org has superb resources–whole units, complete with PowerPoint presentations, worksheets, teaching materials, and high-quality online games.  As usual, Scholastic has assembled an excellent collection of materials for all grade levels.

Another good site is National Archives Constitution Day resources.  This includes a simulation of the confusion and complexity delegates faced as they first met to create the Constitution.  The directions are ready-to-use, and all you need are envelopes and paperclips.  Curious?  Here’s the activity.

I hope you and your students enjoy Constitution Day.  To me, it’s the Beezus to Independence Day’s Ramona.   Like Beezus Quimby, Constitution Day is serious and focused.  Like Ramona, Independence Day is fun and playful.

iCivics.org Scholastic
All curriculum units

Road to the Constitution unit

Constitution unit

Justice by the People unit

Celebrate Constitution Day

Constitution Game

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Sep 14, 2015

 

Take your class to the computer lab for St. Patrick’s Day online games

IrishFlagCelebrate St. Patrick’s Day by playing some FREE online games during your computer lab time.  Here are some fun ones for elementary students:

Posted in Holidays by Corey Green @ Mar 16, 2015

 

FREE Presidents’ Day computer activity: the 7 hat challenge

WashingtonTeachers, here is a wonderful, FREE computer lab activity for Presidents’ Day!  Your students will learn about the 7 hats a U.S. president wears and details about seven presidents.  This activity is appropriate for grades 3 and up.

This computer game-style activity comes from Scholastic, which of course has an assortment of Presidents’ Day activities.  The 7 Hat Challenge is my favorite by far.

Click here to play the game.  In order to succeed, your students must understand the 7 hats the President wears:

  1. Chief of the Executive Branch
  2. Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces
  3. Head of State
  4. Director of Foreign Policy
  5. Political Party Leader
  6. Guardian of the Economy
  7. Legislative Leader

Students learn about seven U.S. presidents, from Washington to Obama.  Students will decide which hat the president was wearing when he made various decisions.

The game has two levels: Easy and Hard.  Easy is good for third graders–but older students will quickly realize that in the Easy game, each president wears only one hat.  Once the student guesses the hat through either knowledge or trial-and-error, it’s easy to answer the other questions about that president since the answer is the same.  Older students should play the Hard level, which gives many questions about each president and shows the many hats that president wore.

After your class plays the game, you can use a Scholastic 7 Hats worksheet as an assessment. Click here for the worksheet.

I highly recommend that you use the worksheet as an assessment.  Your students will be much more serious during the computer lab activity if they know that they will be quizzed on it later.  The worksheet is formatted just like the program, so it’s a quality assessment of the activity.

Happy Presidents’ Day!

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Feb 9, 2015

 

FREE Groundhog Day reading comprehension worksheet + Watch the official promo video with your class

Groundhog Day is a fun, low-stress holiday for the elementary classroom.

Teach your students about the history of Groundhog Day using myGroundhog Day Worksheet.  You will find vocabulary definitions, think and respond questions, and a fun tongue twister about woodchucks.  (Did you know a woodchuck and a groundhog are the same creature?)

Visit Groundhog.org, the official website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, for pictures, articles and Groundhog Day ideas submitted by teachers.  Show your class the official promo video for Groundhog Day.  Students will enjoy seeing the excitement of visiting Punxsutawney for that day.

Posted in Holidays by Corey Green @ Jan 31, 2015

 

FREE online Thanksgiving games for computer lab time

PumpkinPieHere are some FREE online Thanksgiving games for computer lab time!  You and your class can spend a happy hour in the lab playing these games.  Only three days until we’re off for Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Dinner: a logic game.  The challenge is to seat everyone near something they like and away from something they don’t like.  The game is self-correcting.  It won’t let you place a person near a problem.

Turkey Bowl: lob apples and try to hit as many turkeys as you can.

Turkey Run: help the turkey cross the crowded commercial kitchen and make it out alive

Thanksgiving Crossword: play online or on paper.  A fun way to test your  knowledge of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Story: spot the differences.  Carefully study two pictures and spot the differences.  Click on the differences.  You can give yourself more time or ask the game to reveal the remaining differences.

Turkey Puzzle: an online slide puzzle.  Click on the piece you want to move.  Try to build the turkey picture.

Turkey Pardon: an online Thanskgiving hangman game.  Save the turkey by solving the puzzles in time.

Thanksgiving Dinner Decoration: more simulation than game.  Decorate the table for Thanksgiving.  Click when you’re ready to enjoy your virtual feast!

Turkey Hunt: click on the picture to find the hidden turkey.   The turkey hides in a different place for each game.

Gobble’s Tic Tac Toe: Thanksgiving-themed classic

Thanksgiving Dinner Panic: quick!  Can you differentiate between delicious dishes and burnt ones?  Help the teen chefs choose the right food.

Other ClassAntics posts about Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving lesson: write a how-to paper on preparing a Thanksgiving feast

Let Scholastic Help You Teach the First Thanksgiving

FREE Worksheet for the Movie The Mouse on the Mayflower

The Mouse on the Mayflower

 

Posted in Holidays by Corey Green @ Nov 24, 2014

 

Celebrate the Fourth of July with free online games about the American Revolution

statueoflibertyIn the spirit of the Fourth of July, take a moment to play some fun games about the American Revolution.

American Revolution quiz game: Test your knowledge with multiple quizzes about the American Revolution.  The quizzes cover the revolution up to 1789.

TeachingAmericanHistory.org American Revolution tutorial: This is more like a lesson than a game, but you get to click around.  It combines geography with history as students click to learn about various locales important to the American Revolution.

Liberty! The American Revolution: This online quiz/lesson lets you answer and learn.  It coordinates with the PBS series Liberty! The American Revolution.

Mission US: This is a great site with several exciting missions.  Appropos for the Fourth of July is Mission 1: For Crown or Colony?

The Revolutionary Fireworks Frenzy!  This is a pure-fun game that lets you pretend to set off a whole bunch of fireworks in front of a place that looks a lot like Liberty Hall.  That’s it, but it’s pretty fun.

Colonial Williamsburg Interactive: This site lets you play games and do activities that enhance a visit to Colonial Williamsburg.  It’s lots of fun even if a trip to Virginia is not in your future.


 

Merry Christmas from the USAF Band–Flash Mob at the Smithsonian

Merry Christmas!  I hope you enjoy this flash-mob style performance by the U.S. Air Force Band.  They performed at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.  Both of my parents and both of my grandfathers are Air Force veterans–this is a perfect Christmas celebration at our house!

Posted in Holidays by Corey Green @ Dec 25, 2013

 

Let Scholastic Help You Teach the First Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingThe First Thanksgiving.  Every year, teachers need a new way to make this subject interesting and fresh.  Sure, we could teach it the same way every year—but that would be boring for us and the kids.  This year, let Scholastic help you get through this short but tough week.

The main site is here.  From there, you can go to resources for your grade level.  There are three choices: PreK-2, 3-5, and 6-8.  Each lesson plan comes with the worksheets you’ll need and can carry you through the short week before Thanksgiving.

Sample activities from Scholastic:

Virtual field trip to Plimoth Plantation (videos of interviews, demonstrations and site visits)

Learn about the voyage on the Mayflower

Learn about Daily Life for Pilgrims and Native Americans

Learn about the Feast

Read Historical Letters

Thanksgiving Reader’s Theater for your class

The historical lessons from Plimoth Planation should provide excellent enrichment for your Thanksgiving lessons.  Still have time?  Try some Thanksgiving Printables to round out your day.  Another good activity is to watch The Mouse on the Mayflower.  Don’t miss my free worksheet that will help you keep your students accountable during the movie.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Enjoy the long weekend.

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Nov 15, 2013

 

Try a Dr. Seuss-Themed Reading Buddies Session on Read Across America Day

NEA’s Read Across America Day coincides with Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  Your students are either the right age for Dr. Seuss—or way too old.  Either way, pair up with another class for a fun Dr. Seuss-themed event.

“Class reading buddies” is a time honored tradition in elementary school.  Typically, a primary class pairs with an intermediate class.  The older kids read aloud to the younger kids.

The two classes can have a great time with a Dr. Seuss-themed session.  Get as many copies of Seuss’s books as you can.  Try the school library, the public library (put BIG labels on these books and keep track of them), and ask families to send in their well-loved Seuss readers.

Pair the kids up however you wish.  There are many options:

  • Randomly
  • By reading level (pair higher-achieving primary readers with higher-achieving intermediate readers)
  • Let the little kids pick their buddy (empowering and interesting—watch them choose someone who looks a lot like themselves)
  • By interest: who wants to read The Cat in the HatOne Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish?

Then start reading!

It’s nice if you have enough computers so kids can take Accelerated Reader (AR) tests.  I would let intermediate kids take the tests, too—assuming they haven’t already in earlier grades.  They should be rewarded with AR points for reading aloud to little kids.

Consider Cat in the Hat themed art activities.  Keep it simple with coloring pages or making bookmarks.  After all, you’ll have up to 60 kids in the room (or split between two rooms.)  Here are templates:

Seussville Printables for Cat in the Hat

PBS Kids Printables

Happy Read Across America Day!

Posted in Accelerated Reader (AR),Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Feb 28, 2013

 

Mexican Independence Day: September 16

Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16. Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla declared war late into the night of September 15, 1810. After ten years of civil war and the death of two rebel leaders, the Spanish government signed the Treaty of Cordoba and the Mexican Empire was formed.

Mexican Independence Day celebration begins at 11:00 pm on September 15th with the ringing of the bells in every city of Mexico. The celebration continues into the day of September 16.

Teach your students about Mexican Independence Day with these resources:

Information and Lesson Plans from National Endowment for the Humanities: this high-quality information will help you teach Mexican Independence Day at any grade level.

Online Comprehension passage and quiz: Project the passage onto the screen and read it as a class, then take the quiz together.

Second Grade Mexican Independence Day Unit from Denver Public Schools: This is a well-written unit with worksheets and activities appropriate for primary grades.

Mr. Donn’s Mexico collection: lots of PowerPoint presentations and lessons for you to use with your class.

Mexico Independence Day Coloring Pages: it’s not substantial or particularly educational, but this fluff can add a little fun to your lesson. It’s a good way to calm down the class at the end of the day after your fiesta.

About.com Mexican Independence Day: some basic information that will help you plan a lesson or party

Learn about the Grito de Dolores: Learn about Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s cry for independence.

¡Viva Mexico!

Posted in Academics,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Sep 16, 2012