Lesson plan

Black Revolutionaries: Malcolm X

This lesson teaches kids all about Malcolm X and how his childhood influenced him to become one of America's most well known, controversial, and revolutionary figures. First kids will listen to a read-aloud authored by Malcolm X's daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, and then they will write an informative paragraph.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will be able to identify the main topic of a text.
  • Students will be able to write informative texts to examine a topic.
(8 minutes)
  • Gather the students together in a circle.
  • Write "Malcolm X" on the whiteboard and show students a picture of Malcolm X.
  • Ask students to turn and talk to discuss if they have ever read about or heard about this person before.
  • Allow students to share out their ideas as a whole group.
  • Explain to the students that they will watch a short video to learn a little more about Malcolm X's life before reading a book about his childhood.
  • Pass out the I Notice, I Wonder, I Learned worksheet to each student. Explain to the students that they will fill out the worksheet as they watch the video about Malcolm X.
  • Play the Malcolm X Biography: Black History Month video. Rotate around the room and support students in filling out the worksheet as needed.
  • Provide time for students to share what they noticed, wondered, and learned from watching the video.
(25 minutes)
  • Get out the book Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X.
  • Explain to the students that they are going to read a book written by Malcolm X's daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, that will teach them all about his childhood.
  • Write the following words on the whiteboard with student-friendly definitions:
    • adversity: a difficult situation or tragedy
    • equality: having the same rights and social status
    • Islam: a religion that teaches there is one God and Muhammad is God's prophet: the religion of Muslims
    • racism: poor treatment or violence against people because of their race
  • Explain to the students that it is important to understand words that are in books prior to reading because it supports our understanding of the book.
  • Ask students to think about why someone might want to write a book about a family member. Continue by asking students to think about how books help us think and see people in new ways. Elaborate by having students think about why knowing who wrote the book is important? Connect this to the perspective and voice of a story.
  • Read the book aloud to the students. As you read, ask students questions to increase their understanding of the book, such as:
    • How was Malcolm different than his siblings?
    • How do the illustrations in the book help us understand how the family feels about each other?
    • What tragedy did Malcolm experience as a child?
    • What values did Malcolm and his family have?
    • How did Malcolm's father influence him?
    • How do the author's words help us visualize Malcolm's childhood?
    • Malcolm's mom spoke many languages. Why was that important to Malcolm?
    • What does the author mean when she says, "She firmly believed that knowledge acquired today would transform into wisdom tomorrow"?
(10 minutes)
  • Pass out the Comprehension Chart to students after you've finished reading.
  • Display the worksheet on the whiteboard using a document camera or projector.
  • Complete the worksheet together, encouraging student participation by asking prompting questions.
  • Refer back to the text for support. Explain to the students that they will use this worksheet, along with what they learned from the video and book, to support them in writing informational paragraphs about Malcolm X.
(15 minutes)
  • Pass out student writing journals or blank pieces of paper.
  • Write the following paragraph frame on the whiteboard:
    • "Today, we learned about ____. Malcolm X was important to the civil rights movement because ____. I learned ____. I also learned ____. Something I'm still wondering about is ____. Malcolm X believed ____."
  • Read the paragraph frame aloud and explain to the students that they can use the paragraph frame for support as they write an informative paragraph about Malcolm X. Explain that they can also write their own paragraph, but must include a topic sentence, three details, and a conclusion.
  • Rotate around the room and support students as necessary.
  • Pass out coloring materials and allow students to draw a picture of their favorite part of the story in the writing journal or on the back of their paper.

Support:

  • Allow students to work in a small, teacher-led group to write their informative paragraphs.
  • Allow students to record their paragraphs using assistive technology.
  • Have students draw a picture of their favorite part of the book and write a corresponding sentence.
  • Define tricky vocabulary words prior to the lesson to support student comprehension.

Enrichment:

  • Extend student learning by providing multiple books on Malcolm X. Have students compare/contrast their findings.
  • Allow students to research other revolutionary figures from the civil rights movement. Challenge students to connect the leaders by creating a timeline that shows similiarities/differences about their contributions.
  • Collect paragraphs to formally assess students' ability to write a simple, informative text based on Malcolm X.
(5 minutes)
  • Gather in a circle and provide students with time to read aloud their paragraphs.
  • Ask students to think about one more thing they'd like to learn about Malcolm X, and record their ideas on a piece of paper to inform future lessons.

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