On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. led a march on Washington, D.C. The speech he gave that day is one of the best known in American history. When people remember the “I Have a Dream” speech, as it has come to be known, they recall King’s message about civil rights. But perhaps the reason it is so memorable is because King was a master of literary and rhetorical devices. His word choice matched the strength of his message.
This lesson plan allows students to review literary terms, rhetorical devices and figurative language with a scavenger hunt through “I Have a Dream” speech. Then you can have students discuss or write about the speech using the literary terminology. This lesson can be modified to work well for everyone from students just learning about metaphor for the first time to AP students reviewing for their upcoming exams.
The Lesson Plan
1. Review the following literary terms. (You can choose as many or as few as you’d like for your class to focus on for this lesson). If you click on the hyperlinked terms, you’ll find definitions and individualized lesson plans that we’ve created for the term.
2. Give some historical background on the “I Have a Dream” speech by watching Flocabulary’s civil right’s song, “Let Freedom Ring.” The song will be free for Martin Luther King day, until January 20. Learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr. with our blog post about his life.
3. Give each student a printed copy of the “I Have a Dream” speech, which you can print from here. Explain to students that they’ll be looking for the literary terms you’ve reviewed. Show the video of the speech, and while students are watching, ask them to underline and label examples of literary terms that they find. (You could even just focus on metaphors.)
4. When the video is over, give students time in small groups to...