Monday, January 11, 2016

Teach Fairness, Freedom, and Equality to Commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a week away, we wanted to provide you with resources that underscore the power of youth voice in addressing equity and justice. 

In "The Purpose of Education" (1947), Dr. King wrote, "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." Dr. King helped people understand that youth have to be equipped with knowledge to make critical decisions that improve our society and possess passion.  
Dr. King addressing students at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul 1967 (Photo Credit: Minnesota Historical Society)
With social media and technology at times taking the place of marches and protests and augmenting others, today’s young activists have the power to amplify the issues heard and seen in their communities globally. It is the responsibility of all who teach and mentor them to be sure they know how to get correct information and know how to critically analyze it. 

In this light, immigration is one of many topics where the need for factual information, dialogue, and youth voice are integral for understanding our past and present as a diverse nation. We developed an immigration and civic engagement lesson plan for high school students where they wrestle with the essential and “American” question: how deep is our commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Using our nation’s founding documents and Dr. King’s words as a launching point, students will learn about five historical examples of restrictive immigration law and policy and also about the value of young people’s voices in movements to secure rights. This Common-Core and C3 Framework aligned lesson plan has an adaptable Prezi presentation, Cornell Notes handout, and opportunities for student writing. It would make a great extension to a close read of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.

To access our “Teaching Freedom, Fairness, and Equality” lesson plan, please click here.

Additional Resources

  • Turning Current Events into Social Justice Teaching (Jinnie Spiegler, Edutopia) – This brief blog post offers tips for teaching social justice through current events including considering who your students are, exploring opinions and perspectives, clarifying social justice themes, using interactive technology, and encouraging activism.
  • 10 Ways Youth Can Engage in Activism (Anti-Defamation League) – As the title suggests, this article provides ten strategies that can be acted upon individually, or organized as a group where young people can join with a larger effort that is taking place locally or nationally.
  • Event Analysis (HSTRY) – Sign up for a free account and have access to a suite of current and historical event graphic organizers (among other templates) that get students not only thinking, but creating cause-effect relationships in a multimedia, easily shareable format.

Stay Connected!

We offers free lesson plans, resources, book/film reviews, and grants to teach immigration. We also welcome teacher and student book reviews and contributions to our blog. Email us at and follow us on twitter @ThnkImmigration #teachimmigration

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