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Teachers Trade Ideas on Keeping M.L.K. Fresh

Monday, January 16, 2012 - 09:29 AM

WNYC Roundtable on Teaching MLK Lessons

Six teachers from a range of city schools recently gathered around the microphones in a WNYC studio to talk about teaching the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. They each shared a tip or resource as they acknowledged the need to keep it fresh and relevant for their students.

Here are their recommendations:

Keith Christiansen, 40, literacy teacher at M.S. 88 in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn: He likes to teach the poet Langston Hughes and understanding the concept of "A Dream Deferred." Follow him on Twitter @brooklynaut.

Luciano D’Orazio, 34, social studies coordinator at P.S. 150 in the South Bronx: The 1964 Noble Prize Acceptance speech. “There you see King start to change and take on the wider world at large,” he said.

Romero Ross, 23, first-grade teacher at Achievement First East New York Charter School in Brooklyn: “Conversations about how would King feel about hip-hop, and his affiliation with Alpha Phi Alpha. The principles that those [black] fraternities and sororities stand on. It connects to college, too."

Katy Ulrich, 26, first-grade teacher at Achievement First Bushwick Charter School in Brooklyn: Songs that help tell the movement's story such as this one.

Duane Williamson, 47, ninth-grade English teacher at Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Crown Heights, Brooklyn: The "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech. “More than anything it shows his mature, ripened irrepressible nature even when he foreshadowed his own death,” Mr. Williamson said.

Karen Zaidberg, 34, sixth-grade teacher at Manhattan Country Day School: The Children’s March.“It took his defeat in being jailed and having no one really care and turning it over to the young people who took it upon themselves." Follow the school on Twitter @MCS96

Here are some segments of the gabfest, which stretched into the evening. One is about how they use Dr. King's works in their teaching, and how they even personalize the lessons. Romero Ross says he grows his hair into an Afro for Black History Month. The other segment is about how they confront the uncomfortable issues associated with teaching about race and class.

WNYC Teachers share their favorite MLK-related lessons
WNYC Teachers debate how their own racial identities affect their teaching

And if you missed it in an earlier post, The Learning Network, a blog about using Times content for teaching and learning, is collecting best classroom practices, which it will then round up and repost before Feb. 1, when Black History Month begins. The blog also offers a trove of teaching materials. You can add your ideas: How are you teaching about Dr. King and the civil rights movement?

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