I love to have students write in response to real-life events. I feel that writing about experiences makes students realize that their writing can be more than just "a teacher's assignment." When students enjoy an activity, they love writing about it (meanwhile, they are building a solid foundation for cross-curricular writing)!
Since Martin Luther King, Jr. is an important historical figure that we learn about through our state history standards, I like to have kids make a meaningful connection to his message. When students learn about an important person, then they can experience a look into that person's thoughts, they are truly able to jump into a writing assignment with plenty of background and information!
Prior to this lesson, student will have learned about the life and ideas of Martin Luther King, Jr. They will have a general understanding of his message and beliefs by the time we get to this culminating lesson!
Initially, I will have read the books, MLK bio and MLK Day to build students' knowledge. Also, we will have watched the BrainPopJr video biography on Martin Luther King, Jr. the day before this lesson.
For this lesson, students will be sitting on the carpet in the whole group setting.
"Today, we are going to be finishing up our learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. So far, we have learned that he was a very special man who fought for equal rights for all people. We know that he was important in history because of things that he said, did and taught to other people. Right now, we are going to review a little and go back over some of the pieces of his life, and then we are going to connect his message to a project. So, let's get thinking." (wait time)
"Right now, I would like for you to tell a partner one thing that you remember that Martin Luther King, Jr. did." (I will give students about one minute to talk- I will walk around and monitor conversations, adding additional information where it may be needed.)
"I heard some great facts! Good job, everyone! Now, we are going to use this MLK book to help us review our facts one more time." (wait time) "Please sit back, turn your ears on, and listen for the important information we will need to remember about Martin Luther King, Jr."
I will read the book, stopping to note certain things we should remember. I make sure to stop and note when the book refers to people of different colors being treated equally.
"Now that we have freshened our memories about Martin Luther King, Jr., we are going to work on a little experiment!"
"I am going to call this experiment an 'egg-speriment' because it is going to involve eggs." (wait time) "As we complete this egg-speriment, I would like for you guys to THINK" (wait time) "Think really hard about WHY we are working with these eggs, as we go along." (wait time) "Also think about how these eggs nay connect to Martin Luther King, Jr. Here's a hint: the answer is not that MLK liked to eat eggs..." (wait time)
"Right now, I would like for you to move to a spot on the edge of the carpet; that way, we are all facing each other."
As students move to their new spots, I pass out one paper bowl, one spoon, one white egg and one brown egg to each student. (I also have students put paper towels under their bowls- just in case.)
"Your materials are in front of you... You have a spoon and a bowl with two different eggs. I would like for you to describe your materials to someone next to you... use adjectives to tell your partner about your eggs." (I will give students about thirty seconds to describe their eggs- most of them will state the simple facts that the eggs are different, and that one egg is white while one is brown.)
"Now that we have checked out our materials, I am going to tell you what we are going to do with them." (wait time, until students are ready) "In a moment, I am going to have you crack your eggs with your spoon. Once each egg is cracked, I want you to pour the contents into your bowl; after pouring the contents of each egg into the bowl, set your shell to the side of it." (wait time) "Now, does everybody know what to do?" (Students should say yes.) "You may begin cracking your eggs."
It will take students about one minute to do this part of the project. I sit in the middle of all of the students so I can provide help with cracking or dumping where needed.
"Now that we are all done cracking, I want you to pick up your bowl... gently swish the eggs around inside of your bowl... now pass your bowl to the person on your right." (wait time)
"You have a new bowl with two egg yolks inside... I want you to look at them..." (wait time) "Can you tell me which egg came from which shell?" (wait time) "Do you know which egg came from the brown shell and which egg came from the white shell?" (wait time) "Please tell a partner what you think...
I will monitor conversation and push students where needed.
"I heard most of you saying that you could not tell the difference between the two eggs inside of the bowl. But, the shells were different colors....... Hmmmm...." (wait time) "I guess we can say that the outsides looked different, but the insides were the same." (wait time) "Even though the shells were different colors, the insides were exactly the same..."
"Somehow, this egg-speriment matches up with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s ideas... I want you to think about how they are connected....... What did the eggs tell us about Dr. King's beliefs?" (wait time) "I want you to think about this..." (I give students about a minute to think.)
"Now that you have done your egg-speriment and had a moment to think about it, I would like for you to go back to your seats."
"Right now, I would like for you to write down what exactly the eggs taught us about Dr. King's ideas and beliefs. Think about the eggs and what they showed us; then, connect that to what we know about Martin Luther King."
This writing time is truly independent. I want students to be able to take the information they know about MLK and connect it to our egg-speriment. I want students to show me their own thinking and explain their own ideas here.
As students are writing, I will clean up the eggs. (I do like to keep some shells for artifacts because 1) they remind us of the moral of this lesson, and 2) they look good hanging up with our writing in the hall!)
Once I have thrown the bowls of eggs away, I will walk around and monitor students' writing process.
As usual, I assess writing for students' abilities to demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print. Part of every writing assignment is to follow the rules of writing.
The other thing I look for in this writing assignment is that students did indeed make a connection between the ideas of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the two different eggs. I look for students to come up with an idea similar to this:
Martin Luther King, Jr. said that all people should be treated equal because we are all the same. The eggs taught us that he was right. The brown egg and the white egg looked different on the outside, but they were the same on the inside. That is what Martin Luther King was trying to teach people.