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Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Pre- and Post-Reading Activity



  • Arts&Humanities
    --Language Arts
  • Social Studies
    ----U.S. History


  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

A pre- and post-reading exercise documents new learning about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.



  • demonstrate new learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. by completing a pre-reading (anticipatory set) and post-reading activity.
  • summarize at least three new facts they learned about King's life.
  • work cooperatively with a partner or in a group (optional).


Martin Luther King, pre-reading, anticipatory, read-pair-share, KWL

Materials Needed

Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will learn about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Before students read (or you read aloud) the assigned text, provide students with a copy of the Martin Luther King: What Did You Learn? work sheet. (NOTE: the direct URL on the worksheet no longer works. You must go to in order to access the information.)

Have students read the statements about Dr. King to themselves (or read them as a class) and decide, based on what they know, whether each statement is true or false. In the Before You Read column, students will circle T (true) or F (false) next to each statement.

After completing this anticipatory/re-reading activity, provide students with copies of Celebrating the Life and Contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. (pages 7-10). This is a resource from the History Alive! curriculum. Have students read the selection. You might use one of the following reading strategies:

  • Reading Aloud. If you teach young students, you might read aloud the selection. If you teach older students, they might take turns reading aloud to their classmates.
  • Round-Robin Reading. Students might work in groups to read the activity; they can take turns reading a paragraph at a time. After reading each paragraph, or each section of the selection, have others in the group restate/summarize what was read.
  • Read-Pair-Share. Students might work with a partner. Divide the selection into three parts (Part 1: Childhood and Youth, Part 2: Major Contributions, and Part 3: Death and Legacy). Have the partners read the first section silently to themselves, then have them come together to share any new and interesting facts that they learned from the reading.
  • KWL Chart. After completing the anticipatory activity, create a KWL chart. In the K column on the chart, record what students K now to be true. Then record things students Want to know in the W column. At the end of the activity -- after reading -- record in the L column information that students learned by reading.

After students read Celebrating the Life and Contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. (pages 7-10), they will repeat the comprehension activity. This time, they will circle T or F in the After You Read column.

After students have completed the post-reading activity, they will compare their before-and-after responses to the work sheet statements to document new information they learned about King. Did they learn new facts about the life of Dr. King?


How many answers did students get correct on the Martin Luther King: What Did You Learn? work sheet? Did their scores on the pre- and post-reading activities show they had learned new things about Dr. King?

Answers: 1.F (he was the middle of three children); 2.T; 3.T; 4.T; 5.T; 6.F (he thought he might become a doctor or lawyer); 7.T; 8.T; 9.T; 10.F (King helped organize the boycott after Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat); 11.F (90 percent of black riders boycotted the buses); 12.T; 13.F (Though King studied Gandhi's life and work while in seminary, Gandhi did not participate in the bus boycott. Note: Gandhi died in 1948, which was seven years before the boycott began.); 14.T; 15.F (King game his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, D.C.); 16.F (King was in Memphis to participate in a strike by sanitation workers); 17.F (King was shot to death at age 39); 18.T; 19.T (Note: Since King received the Nobel Peace Prize that year, it has been awarded to an event younger person.); 20.F (Martin Luther King Day was first celebrated in 1986, nearly 18 years after he was assassinated.).

In addition, you might have students list the three most interesting facts they learned by reading about Dr. King; those facts should be things they did not know before they read.

Lesson Plan Source

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)

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Last updated 12/27/2011