South Orangetown Central School District

First-graders in Michelle Rossi’s class learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. during their library lesson this afternoon. Library teacher Celine Zatarga led students through an interactive tour through King’s childhood home and milestone events as they learned where to find biographies and books about holidays in the library and how to tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction.

The multimedia lesson included video clips and primary sources, such as photos from King’s life and examples of segregation. When asked to reflect on what it would feel like to not have the same opportunities to play and live the same way as their friends, “angry,” “sad,” “disappointed” and “frustrated” were the emotions they named.

Zatarga explained that King tried to spread love and promote peaceful change. From King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, she read, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Zatarga paused to explain, “‘Content of character’ means who people are in their hearts.”

“It is beautiful,” Evan observed.

The students were invited to share ideas of things that they might want to change about the world and how they might take the first step. Sabrina offered, “Don’t judge people just because they are different.”

At the end of the session, students shared what they had learned about King. “He didn’t fight. He used his words,” said Molly.

Students sitting on floor looking at smartboard