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Construction Gets Underway at Martin Luther King Memorial


Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
Social Studies
--Current Events
----U.S. History


Grades 2-up

News Content

A new memorial on the National Mall will be the first to honor an African American.

Anticipation Guide

Ask students if they know where the National Mall is. The most common use of the term mall refers to a shopping center that houses many stores and restaurants under one roof. But the National Mall is not a shopping center. It is the open area of national parkland in downtown Washington, D.C. According to Wikipedia, the term National Mall commonly includes areas that are officially part of West Potomac Park and Constitution Gardens to the west, and often is taken to refer to the entire area between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol, with the Washington Monument providing a division slightly west of the center." As popularly understood, the Mall is home to many recognizable landmarks, including many of the museums that comprise the Smithsonian Institution. In addition, the Mall includes the [click for images] Washington Monument, United States Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Note: Some sources do not include the location of the Jefferson Memorial and the future location of the Martin Luther King Memorial inside the National Mall" boundaries, but the King Memorial Web site clearly includes the new memorial within those boundaries [see About the Memorial: Site Location].

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: organizers, acre, despair, sculpture, centerpiece, and generations. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • Townspeople debated whether the new _____ in the park was a work of art or a waste of money. (sculpture)
  • Mrs. Thomas was in deep _____ because only three of us got passing grades on our social studies test. (despair)
  • The California State Capital Building is the _____ of downtown Sacramento. (centerpiece)
  • Event _____ hope to make a bundle of money for charity. (organizers)
  • We have passed down family photographs for many _____. (generations)
  • My uncles house sits on a one-_____ lot right on the lake. (acre)
  • Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Construction Gets Underway at Martin Luther King Memorial.

    Reading the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • You might share with students this video that depicts the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial and its location. The memorial will be adjacent to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and in a direct line with the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, where King gave his history-changing "I Have a Dream" speech in August 1963.
  • It might seem as if this memorial to Dr. King is long overdue. Nearly 42 years have passed since his assassination in 1968. But this monument actually came together quickly compared to others. Construction began on the Washington Monument in 1854, 55 years after George Washington's death. The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated 57 years after Abraham Lincolns assassination. The Jefferson Memorial was proposed in 1925, nearly 100 years after Thomas Jefferson's death; it wasnt dedicated until 1943.
  • Fund raising efforts for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial are still underway, but that will not stop construction from beginning. The Alphi Phi Alphi fraternity, to which King belonged, created the nonprofit Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation in order to raise $120 million to plan and build the memorial.
  • Natural elements -- water, stone, and trees -- will come together in the memorial, which was designed by ROMA Design Group of San Francisco. The site will be ringed by a semi-circular granite wall on which will be carved many important King quotes. More than 200 new cherry trees will be planted on the site.
  • Work on the site needs to be completed before the stones are set in place. When it comes time to ship the sculpture and wall stones to Washington, that shipment will include 159 huge blocks of granite weighing as much as 55 tons each. The carving of Dr. King's head, for example, will weigh 46 tons. Like other memorials on the National Mall, concrete pilings will help support the weight of the memorial, which is being constructed on soft earth that is part of the districts Potomac River tidal basin. The King Memorial will require more than 300 concrete piles buried as deep as 50 feet. The three stones that are part of the memorial are not actually solid granite; in order to reduce their weight, they have cores of concrete.
  • The King Memorial has not been without controversy. Many people were not happy that a Chinese sculptor, Lei Yixin, was selected to carve the likeness of Dr. King. Others say the sculptor's image of King is too grim and unfriendly.
  • Use the News

    Print out this weeks Use the News printable activity page for students. Or use the questions on that page to check student comprehension.

    Activity Page Answer Key:
    Reading Comprehension: Reading for Detail. 1. two; 2. Lincoln; 3. National; 4. four; 5. Despair; 6. 30; 7. sculpture (or carving, likeness); 8. quotes (or words); 9. China; 10. 120.
    Language Practice: Sentence Sense. 1. c - carving; 2. a - appear; 3. c - taken; 4. a - raise; 5. b - collected.
    Reading Comprehension: Main Idea. The main idea is b - The National Mall will soon be home to a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-C.K-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.K-4.3 Principles of Democracy
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy

    GRADES 5 - 12
    NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
    NSS-USH.5-12.10 Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the Present)

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
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