Investigating the March on Washington

Students learn about the speakers at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. They reenact the March and recite excerpts from the speeches delivered that day.

About this Resource

Grade Level
4
5
6
Time Required
2-3 hours
Curricular Resource Type
Lesson Plans & Activities
Curricular Resource Subject Area
Civics and US Government
US History
Curricular Resource Topic
Civic Education and Engagement
Civil Rights
Curricular Standards
Common Core
C3 Framework for Social Studies
National History Standards (UCLA)
National Council of Teachers of English
Massachusetts Framework - English Language Arts
Massachusetts Framework - History and Social Science

Download this lesson plan, including handouts, as a pdf.

Overview

Goals

  • Introduce students to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy's interest in and talent with words
  • Motivate students to write a poem by sharing a mentor text by an historical figure

Essential Questions

How can you use sensory imagery to write a poem?

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • analyze and interpret a poem
  • write a poem using sensory imagery

Preparation

Prior Knowledge and Skills

It is helpful for students to have familiarity with John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline B. Kennedy. You can use the Picture Book Biographies or biographical essays to provide this context.

Historical Background and Context

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy had a talent with words. When she was a young girl she read whenever she could; she even sneaked out of bed during nap time to read adult books. As a college senior, she won the Vogue Prix de Paris essay contest and in her application, admitted that “she would drop everything any time to read a book on ballet.” John F. Kennedy loved to read and write, too, though his wife was better at memorizing poems. He depended on her to remind him of verses of his favorite poems like Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson which she had learned as a child.

Jacqueline Kennedy wrote poetry, too. When she was 10 years old, she composed and illustrated a poem called Sea Joy. In this activity, students analyze the sensory imagery in the poem and then write a poem about a place that is familiar to them.

Materials

 

 

 

(Transcription)

 

 

 

Sea Joy by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (written in 1939 at age 10)

 

 

 

When I go down by the sandy shore
I can think of nothing I want more
Than to live by the booming blue sea
As the seagulls flutter round about me

 

 

 

I can run about--when the tide is out
With the wind and the sand and the sea all about
And the seagulls are swirling and diving for fish
Oh - to live by the sea is my only wish.

 

 

 

Procedure

 

 

 

  1. Provide the background information so that students can read it independently or read it aloud to them.
  2. Read Sea Joy to students or have them read it individually.
  3. Take turns having students read the poem out loud, guiding them to use their voice to express the rhythm and rhymes.
  4. Discuss the poem. What do you notice about the poem? What do you like about it? What pictures do you have in your mind when you read the poem? How does it make you feel? Why do you think Jacqueline B. Kennedy chose the title Sea Joy?
  5. Explain that sensory imagery, describing details using the five senses, brings a poem alive. Have them analyze the poem by identifying sensory imagery in the poem. Have students do the following:

    -- Draw an ear above words that remind them of a sound.
    -- Draw an eye above the words that make them see colors and shapes.
    -- Draw a hand above words that remind them of a texture or something they can touch.
    -- Draw a nose above words that make them think of a smell.
    -- Draw a mouth above words that make them think of a taste.

 

 

 

Explain that just as Jacqueline B. Kennedy wrote about her favorite place, they will write about a place that brings them joy. They will use sensory imagery to write the poem Explain that sensory imagery helps the reader experience the place that is described in the poem. Guide students through this visualization and writing exercise:

 

 

 

1. Think of a place that brings you joy.

 

 

 

2. Take a few minutes to imagine the place. Use the questions below to allow your mind to created a detailed picture of your place.

 

 

 

  • What do you see?
  • What do you hear?
  • What do you smell?
  • What might you taste?
  • What are the textures of the things around you?

 

 

 

3. Use these images to write your poem. Use your sensory imagery to describe the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of your favorite place.

 

 

 

Assessment

 

 

 

Review students' poems for sensory imagery and how well they conveyed a sense of their favorite place.

 

 

 

Accommodations

 

 

 

  • Analyze the poem as a whole class.
  • Write a poem as a whole class or in small groups.

 

 

 

Extensions

 

 

 

  • Challenge students to write their poem in couplets, the form that Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy used in Sea Joy. A couplet consists of two lines of poetry that rhyme, for example:

 

 

 

When I go down by the sandy shore
I can think of nothing I want more

 

 

 

  • Have students read the Jacqueline Kennedy Picture Book Biography, or the Life of Jacqueline B. Kennedy to find evidence of her love of reading and writing.
  • Have students memorize Sea Joy or their original poem.
  • Have students illustrate their poem

    Download this lesson plan, including handouts, as a pdf.

    Access a version of this lesson plan adapted for online learning.

    Overview

    Topic:Civil Rights, Civic Education and Engagement

    Grade level:Grades 4 - 6

    Subject Area:US History, Civics and US Government

    Time Required:2-3 hours

    Goals/Rationale

    • Bring history to life through reenacting a significant historical event.
    • Raise awareness that the civil rights movement required the dedication of many leaders and organizations.
    • Shed light on the power of words, both spoken and written, to inspire others and make progress toward social change.

    Essential Question

    How do leaders use written and spoken words to make change in their communities and government?

    Objectives

    • Read, analyze and recite an excerpt from a speech delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
    • Identify leaders of the Civil Rights Movement; use primary source material to gather information.
    • Reenact the March on Washington to gain a deeper understanding of this historic demonstration.

    Preparation

    Prior Knowledge and Skills

    Students should be familiar with the historical context of the civil rights movement and know basic information about the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

    Introduction

    Many students know that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963, at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. They may not know, however, that nine other civil rights leaders spoke that day: A. Philip Randolph, Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, John Lewis, Walter Reuther, James Farmer (whose speech was read by Floyd McKissick), Whitney Young, Mathew Ahmann, Roy Wilkins, and Rabbi Joachim Prinz. These ten speakers were known as the “Top Ten,” the team of civil rights activists who, along with Bayard Rustin, organized the March. In this activity, students work in small groups to learn about one of the speakers at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. They then reenact the March and recite an excerpt from one of the speeches delivered that day.

    Materials

    (all materials included in the downloadable pdf)

    • speech excerpt handout
    • program from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
    • photograph of speakers from the March
    • biographical information handout

    Procedure

    1. Divide students into ten groups and provide each group with the March program and the photograph of the leaders, a speech excerpt, and biographical information. Have them locate their leader on the program, examine the photograph, and share any prior knowledge about the person.
    2. Have students read the biographical information provided. Alternatively, have students research their speaker and share information with group members.
    3. Have students read the speech excerpt and discuss the following:
      1. How would you summarize the text?
      2. What are two main ideas in the text?
      3. What words from the text provide evidence of the main ideas?
      4. What are other important words? What do they mean?
      5. What feelings will they put forth when they recite the speech?
    4. Have each group practice reciting their speech excerpt in preparation for a reenactment of the March.
    5. In further preparation for the reenactment, have students make signs depicting their wishes for racial justice and equal rights. Practice singing freedom songs such as We Shall Overcome and This Little Light of Mine.
    6. After students march on a pre-planned route, singing as they walk, assemble the group to hear the speech excerpts. Introduce each group to recite its excerpt for the class.
    7. Conclude the lesson with a discussion on challenges to racial justice today.

    Assessment

    Have students write their responses to the discussion questions.

    Extension

    Have each group conduct further research on its assigned leader and create a Pinterest page to show the websites, photographs, and videos they think best represent the person. Have each group present the resources and reasons for choosing them.

    Connections to Curriculum Standards

    National History Standards: Historical Thinking Standards

    • 2. Historical Comprehension

    National Council of Teachers of English Standards

    • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
    • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

    Common Core State Standards

    • ELA College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language

    C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards

    • Discipline 3 - Evaluating sources and using evidence; and
    • Discipline 4 - Communicating conclusions and taking informed action

    Massachusetts History and Social Science Framework

    • K.T1 Civics: Classroom Citizenship
    • 5.T5 Slavery, the Legacy of the Civil War, and the Struggle for Civil Rights for All

    Massachusetts English Language Arts Framework

    • Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language
    .
  • Have students share a favorite poem if they have one, reciting it and telling why it's a favorite.

 

 

 

Further reading

 

 

 

Kennedy, Caroline. The Best-Loved Poems by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Hyperion, 2005.

 

 

 

Kennedy, Caroline. Poems to Learn by Heart. Disney-Hyperion, 2013.

 

 

 

Connections to Curriculum Standards

 

 

 

NCTE/ IRA Standards for the English Language Arts

 

 

 

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

 

 

 

Massachusetts English Language Arts Framework

 

 

 

  • Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language