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Identify What Inspires Us

Students will identify a famous speech or short text that inspires them. They will write a short review in which they identify the author's message and explain how and why it inspires them.

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, discuss what it means to be inspired. Encourage students to identify what inspires them. Guide students to recognize that inspiration comes from many different sources. Often, people are inspired by their families and friends. Or, they find inspiration in nature and their surroundings. And sometimes, someone comes along with a new idea so powerful that it can influence the way huge parts of society think. 
  2. Point out that many people today are inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. But he, too, was inspired by others. According to the article, one of his greatest inspirations was "Civil Disobedience," an essay written by Henry David Thoreau nearly 200 years ago. 
  3. Instruct students to conduct research to find a famous speech or text that inspires them. If you wish, encourage students to begin their search with the speeches of MLK. 
  4. Once students have selected a speech or text, instruct them to write a brief review of it. Challenge them to identify what they think the person was trying to say and how and why that message inspires them.

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to share their reviews with the class. Compare and contrast the types of things that inspire students and how students are influenced to react.   

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON: 

Grades 3-4:
Prior to conducting this activity, select four age-appropriate speeches or short texts for students to review. Read aloud each item to the class. Instruct students to select the speech or text that most inspires them. Have students who chose the same item work together as a group. Encourage groups to identify what they think the author was trying to say and what it means to them. Challenge groups to each write a thoughtful review of their selection.
Grades 5-6:
Prior to conducting this activity, compile a selection of famous speeches and short texts. Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to select the speech or text that most inspires them. As they write their reviews, challenge groups to identify specific lines in the selection that helped them understand what the author was saying and why it meant so much to them.
Grades 7-8: 
Assign each student a partner. Instruct partners to identify a famous speech or short text that inspires them both. As partners analyze the author's message, challenge them to identify specific words or phrases the author may have used with the intent to inspire others to take action. Encourage students to explain how and why the author's message inspires them.
Grades 9-10:
Give students time to identify a famous speech or short text that inspires them. Once they have made a selection, instruct students to summarize the author's message. Encourage them to identify examples from the text that they found to be the most meaningful. Challenge students to incorporate those examples into their review as they explain how and why the author's message inspires them.