Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cedar Ridge Academy Students Focus on Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" Speech

This week, students at Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School learned more about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in commemoration of his birthday this week and resultant the holiday this coming Monday. These activities were done in the Social Studies supplemental instruction that occurs once a week for an hour.  These classes allow students to focus on new academic skills and review material that they are working on in their individual classes. Therapeutically, it allows students to practice appropriate classroom behavior, build relationships with peers, and learn how to communicate with peers in a group setting.

Students were given a copy of an artifact from 1963 that is part of the Smithsonian Museum’s exhibit on the Civil Rights Movement.  Students examined the artifact and were asked to give predictions as to what it might be, describe certain characteristics of it to their peers, and how it might have impacted the events of that time.  The students determined that it was a flyer that advertised the August 28, 1963 March on Washington during which Dr. King gave his famous speech.  In groups, we talked about how the March impacted the movement and how it fit into the overall message of the movement.

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A few students working together in a group describing the artifact
After examining the artifact, we listened to a few March participants share their memories of the event and learned that Dr. King almost did not include the “I Have a Dream” section of his speech.  Apparently, King had given that speech numerous times and his inner circle felt that he should give something new.  As a result, they wrote him a new speech to give that day.  However, to the dismay of his friends, King changed the script while standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. 

As a class, we read part of King’s speech and talked about the elements of speech writing that were included, like repetition and symbolism.  The famous part of the speech was actually read to us by King as we watched a recording of the infamous day.  The students seemed to learn a lot more about the significance of Dr. King’s speech. Check out our blog tomorrow to see the students’ written responses on what they think of the speech and its significance.

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