South Orangetown Central School District

McAuliffe/Nunes class

“He won a Nobel Peace Prize.”
“He led protests, but not with violence–with words.”
“He wanted justice for everybody,”

Fifth graders in teachers Bill McAuliffe and Melanie Nunes’ class shared their prior knowledge of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. before diving into a lesson focused on making personal connections to the civil rights leader.

Students viewed the music video for U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and identified references to King. “This whole song is about love, which is what Dr. King stood for. It’s a tribute to him,” McAuliffe said. “(Lead singer) Bono has said that Dr. King was an inspiration to him growing up during the turbulence in Ireland. He is an inspiration for anyone who is struggling–and we all have times of struggle.”

After reading a brief biographical text about King on their own, students gathered in small groups to move through a series of thought-provoking questions about their own challenges and sources of inspiration.

“The activity guides students in self-reflection about how they might relate to and connect with Dr. King,” noted Nunes.

Classmates candidly shared their struggles with one another, from making and keeping friends to learning new skills to dealing with loss. They discussed how it feels to achieve a goal (“powerful”) and lessons they might take from King’s example.

“He felt accomplished that he helped people come together.”
“He struggled but he never gave up.”

McAuliffe encouraged students to honor King’s memory over the holiday weekend. “Remember Dr. King, what he achieved and how he changed the world.”