Dr. King, Similes and Metaphors Lesson Plan: Identifying Literary Conventions in a Historical Speech

Submitted by: Andrew

Grade Levels: 3-5

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3 to 5, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the purpose of similes and metaphors. Students will identify examples of simile use in specific historical texts and recognize the power of literary conventions in a historically significant speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Understand the purpose of similes.
  2. Identify examples of simile use in specific historical texts.
  3. Recognize the power of using simile in a historically significant speech.

Materials:

  • Pencils
  • Internet access, computer, and projector
  • Printouts or projected copies of Dr. Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech
  • Access to BrainPOP videos

Vocabulary:

simile, civil rights, public speaking, eloquent, persuasion, history, historic figure, grammar, literary device

Preparation:

Teachers can prepare in advance individual copies of Dr. King's I Have a Dream speech for each student. Pull up the BrainPOP videos, and, if you cannot view the YouTube video embedded on the American Rhetoric site, the audio link from archive.org.

As this is a literacy lesson, it is assumed that students are familiar with the story of Dr. King and that the teacher has prepared a separate time to discuss the depth of his historical contributions. The BrainPOP Jr. movie on Martin Luther King, Jr. can be used to build background as needed and/or provide support to below grade level students prior to the start of the lesson. Additionally, BrainPOP Jr.'s Similes movie can help prepare students for the simile study as needed.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Explain that today, students will be focusing on Dr. King's speech writing and speaking style. Show the BrainPOP Martin Luther King, Jr movie.
  2. Afterward, bring the movie to the 2 minutes 45 seconds point and highlight when Tim says, "King's gift for eloquent speaking was a big help to his cause..."
  3. Tell students, "I have a question that Moby didn't ask: What makes a speaker eloquent?" Record students' answers on chart paper, a white board, or thought map software.
  4. Acknowledge student responses and explain that good writing and speaking also use metaphors and similes, and that the class' focus today will be on similes.
  5. Show the first portion of the BrainPOP Similes and Metaphors movie, which covers similes. Ask students for their own examples of similes.
  6. Give students copies of the "I Have a Dream" speech transcript, and play either the last 4 minutes of the audio recording found at Archive.org or the YouTube video of King's speech.
  7. Lead discussion around the question, "How does Dr. King's use of similes 'help his cause'?" You may choose to share the FYI Quotables resource to help students understand King's speaking style and famous quotations.
  8. Have students write a letter to Moby explaining how Dr. King used similes in his speech writing to "help his cause."