Teach This Poem is a weekly series featuring a poem from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help K-12 teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom.
Resource: Play the audio recording of Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech from the 11:26 mark until the end. (You can find the text of the speech on the National Archives website.)
- Warm-up: Go around the room quickly and ask each student to share one wish they have for the future of this country (without being politically partisan).
- Hand out copies of the text of the “I Have a Dream” speech, beginning on page 4, to your students. Play the recording of the speech from the 11:26 mark until the end. As they listen to the speech, ask them to circle the words and phrases that jump out at them on their copy of the text.
- Ask your students to gather in small groups to share what they noticed in the speech. Why do they think these were the things they noticed?
- Whole-class discussion: Based on the words and phrases they noticed in the speech, what do they think was Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream? Make sure they use evidence from what they noticed in the speech. When did he give this speech?
- Project the poem “Imagine” in front of the class. Ask your students to silently read it through twice, the first time without writing anything down. The second time your students read the poem, ask them to write down the words, phrases, and images that jump out at them.
- Ask one student to read the poem aloud to the class. Ask the listening students to add the new words and phrases that jump out at them to their lists. Repeat this process a second time, with another student reading the poem aloud. Ask your students to turn and talk with a partner about what they noticed from both the silent and aural readings.
- Whole-class discussion: What is the speaker in the poem describing? Ask your students to give evidence for their thoughts. In the second and third stanzas, there are two things the speaker asks the reader to imagine. What are they? How do these imaginings relate to the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. describes? How do they relate to your students’ wishes for their country?