Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Making History

It's 45 years since Martin Luther King made his "I Have a Dream" speech. Today we watched the video from that time. (It looks so old...)
The speech fit in nicely. We just finished reading Emerson and his exhortations about relying on your inner moral code, ideas which supported and influenced the efforts of the Civil Rights movement. It's Black History Month. And, yesterday was Super Tuesday, an historic moment in voting when Democrats were faced with two choices: a woman, and a black man.
It was time to look at the speech.
My students watched the entire speech and, to keep them from zoning out, I gave them several tasks as they watched. First, listen for the first extended metaphor. (King compares the "negroes" - as he colloquially referred to his brethren - wait for freedom to those who wait for payment on a promissory note). Second, they were to watch his face and see when it was he stopped reading his prepared remarks and started ad-libbing the text. (Hint: the students were surprised.)
Finally, they were to listen to the crowd reaction.
When making an argument, context is everything so we looked at SOAPS: Subject, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, and Speaker.
Maybe, maybe they paid attention to the entire speech. Well....I know some of them did.