Dr. King's Dream

So much has changed in the landscape of America, and much of it has been propelled by the efforts of our youth.

Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.’s tireless work to end segregation along with that of many other notable Civil Rights Leaders, many of whom lived and still live in Atlanta, has changed the way in which our children are able to learn.  Not only are they able to be immersed in more diverse situations and environments, but a precedent was set to uphold the rights bestowed upon all of us as residents and citizens of the United States of America.

Today’s lesson was based upon Dr. King’s dream.  After watching the video below, which literally brought his words to life, the students discussed the significance of his words, his work, and of how it has an effect upon each of them.


After an in-depth discussion of the impact of this speech, we looked at key passages within it to discuss the sheer mastery of Dr. King’s writing.  He used examples of metaphor such as, “this momentous decree [The Emancipation Proclamation] came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.”  Furthermore, he made specific references and allusions to The Gettysburg Address, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, and iconic songs such as “Free at Last” and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee(meaning here).

The lesson was summarized with a quick sharing of the points discussed in class that were thought to be the most poignant.


  • “Dr. King’s Dream”
    • Write a letter to Dr. King (as if he were still alive) telling him how his “I Have a Dream” speech has had an impact on your life.  Cite specific evidence from the speech itself.
  • Study the Lesson 9 vocabulary words from “Vocabulary from Classical Roots”


A Veteran's Day Story Face-off: "Flowers for Algernon" versus "The Tell-Tale Heart"

Courtesy of: Image source: https://www.knoxvillechristianschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Veterans_Day_Dogtags.jpg
Courtesy of: Image source: https://www.knoxvillechristianschool.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Veterans_Day_Dogtags.jpg

On this fifteenth Veteran’s Day of the new millennium, we took time to pay respect to those who have served in our armed forces through a picture-based writing prompt and our classroom playlist.  The students were asked to look at the image above and write their thoughts, whatever those might be, for the length of two complete songs.  The writings that were shared showed that my middle-schoolers have a lot more reverence and understanding of holidays such as today than one might ordinarily think.

The students and I then worked to finish what we had started yesterday.  We pit Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon” against Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” to see which was the better of the two stories.  How can you evaluate these two divergent texts that only share their first-person points of view in common? Based on the work we did yesterday, the students followed my example and created the remaining cells of a rubric.  I then chose the best-written ones and used those (almost verbatim) to construct our giant, in-class story rubric.


The students then worked individually to evaluate each story based upon the rubric.  Next, they worked together with their tablemates to average the point values they awarded each story.  We then collected all of that data to come up with a class average score for each based upon the table-by-table averages.  In the end, Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon” won due to its variance in writing style and its more interesting and more fully-developed characters.


The students then finished class with their 10-question reading comprehension quiz on “The Tell-Tale Heart” to the soundtrack of the following patriotically-themed songs:

  • “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel
  • “America the Beautiful” by Whitney Houston
  • “Proud to be an American” by Beyonce’
  • “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen
  • “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus
  • “Southern State of Mind” by Darius Rucker


  • Read for 30 minutes.
  • Work on any Genius Hour.


Friday September 7th, 2012 in Review (and welcome aboard)

Let me first extend a warm welcome to the parents who have just signed up to follow this blog through their email.  Thank you for your support!

Friday we brought together all that we had learned this week through a freestyle rap review in the style of Jimmy Fallon’s “Ready, Set, Flow.”  Not all of the classes got a chance to do this entirely, but all were exposed to this concept for future reviews (in a much more fun and interactive way).  It was then time for our weekly quiz over the sentence parts of predicate, direct object and indirect object.  After completing the quiz, it was then time to write our weekly BCR.  This week, to reflect our in-class discussions, the students had the opportunity to choose from one of the topics below:

  • Topic 1: Has ‘The American Dream’ been deferred as Langston Hughes mentions in his 1951 poem.  Include examples to support your claim.
  • Topic 2: Can men and women fully be equal in society?  Why or why not? Include examples to support your claim.
  • Topic 3: What issue do you think politicians should not address?  Why should this issue be off limits? Include examples to support your claim.

HOMEWORK: None!  Have a safe and wonderful weekend!

PowerPoint: 9-7-12 Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Thursday, September 6th, 2012 Recap

On this dreary Thursday we decided to see ethos, pathos, and logos in action by discussing the concept of “the American Dream” (which is an abstract noun by the way).  First, a look at Langston Hughes‘ “A Dream Deferred”  helped set the stage for the comparison and contrast of two divergent points of view with a Venn Diagram.  We watched Ann Romney’s speech from the Republican National Convention last week and then Michelle Obama’s from the Democratic National Convention this week.  Both women’s speeches sought to paint their husbands as the perfect person to be (or continue being) President of the United States.  We then closed by having a mock election based on both women’s speeches alone to see who would win.

*My 7th period class covered indirect objects before embarking on the lesson above.

HOMEWORK: Watch the news and/or the Democratic National Convention.  Make a list of some of the political issues that are addressed.  Then choose one of those issues and write a BCR persuading me to agree with your opinion on that one issue.  Be sure to present a convincing argument!

PowerPoint: 9-6-12 Ethos, Pathos, & Logos in Action