Activating Prior Knowledge

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SWBAT engage in a small-group discussion to list and label groups of terms.

Big Idea

Let's start with what you already know!


5 minutes

To begin class today, I hand out five index cards to each student. 

I show them the first slide of today's presentation, which has Dr. King's picture on it.  With the first click of the presentation, their task appears: they are to write five words, one per card, that they associate with Dr. King and the ideas he stood for. 

I give them 5 minutes to complete this task.

Getting Down to Business

35 minutes

Now it's time to move on to the collaboration portion of today's lesson.  I have my students move into their groups of 3-4, and we begin the process of assigning roles.

Before showing the roles on the next screen (they are hidden until you click), I have the groups number off, 1-4.  I then show the group role associated with each number, and I take a moment to go through the responsibilities of each role.  If a group only has three students, I combine the roles of facilitator and time keeper.  One person can easily do both jobs.

Once I'm sure that each student understands his or her responsibility, I will then click the slide to show them their group task.

During this activity, students will:

  • Go through everyone's cards, looking for duplicated words (each word can only be used one time)
  • Create any additional needed words, so that they have 15 to work with.
  • Organize words into 3-4 groups based on their relationships.
  • Give each group of words a name
  • Attach the cards to butcher paper in groups and label each group.
  • Prepare the speaker to share their groups of words with the class.


I give my students 15-20 minutes to accomplish this task.

Once the groups are ready to present, I will first ask for volunteers to share out.  Usually, once someone gets the ball rolling, almost everyone is excited to share. To share out, I ask the speaker to read the label and then the words of one of their groups.

To wrap up this portion of the lesson, we listen to Dr. King's immortal words.  There is a link embedded into the words "I Have a Dream" on the slide.  The link leads to the Quiet Tube videoQuiet Tube is a great service that allows you to show YouTube videos without suggestions and ads popping up at the end of the video.  However, if you cannot install Quiet Tube, the video is also on good, ol' YouTube.

Did They Get It?

10 minutes

To wrap up today's lesson, I present my students with an exit ticket assignment (the last slide of the presentation).  I let the class know that today's activity was meant to activate their prior knowledge about a topic that we are going to study for the next couple of weeks. The goal of the exit ticket is for them to tell me anything and everything they know about US history that led to Dr. King giving this amazing speech.

I ask them to write things that they've heard but don't necessarily know are true.  They are helping me know where to start with our reading and discussions.

I collect this exit ticket as a formative assessment, graded on completion.  More importantly, I want to see what my students know about slavery, abolition, and the Civil War, especially if they have misconceptions.