Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

I Have a Dream: Exploring Nonviolence in Young Adult Texts

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


I Have a Dream: Exploring Nonviolence in Young Adult Texts

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Bethany Marie Lisi

Exeter, Rhode Island


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, students identify how the rapper, Common and writer, Walter Dean Myers, reinterprets Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of nonviolence in their own works. This lesson also aims to expose high school students to nonviolent options of conflict-resolution. To activate prior knowledge, students will watch Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech and read Doreen Rappaport's picture book, Martin's Big Words, and recall how he approached conflict. The students will connect Dr. King's answer to conflict-resolution with Common's interpretation of nonviolence, as demonstrated in his song, “A Dream.” The students will also connect this dream of nonviolence to Walter Dean Myers' short story, “Monkeyman,” from the book 145th Street.  Students are assigned a particular homework task prior to reading the short story in order to encourage a text-based discussion on characterization and conflict. The students will be introduced to Dr. King's Six Principles of Nonviolence and compose a thesis essay as a final assessment.

back to top



  • A classroom set of Walter Dean Myers' 145th Street (or copies of the short story "Monkeyman")
  • A copy of Doreen Rappaport’s picture book Martin’s Big Words
  • Six Principles of Nonviolence Essay Rubric: Used to help guide students through the writing process and also used as an assessment tool.

back to top



The English classroom offers opportunities to explore conflict resolution strategies through reading and analyzing plot structure, characterization, and point of view in short stories.  Multicultural literature exposes students to various nationalities, religions, socioeconomic classes, and cultures. Through the discussion of multicultural literature and the nature of conflict, empathy for diversity will develop and potentially deter the formation or promotion of intolerant behaviors.

Further Reading

Coghlan, Rosemarie.  "The Teaching of Anti-Violence Strategies within the English Curriculum."  English Journal 89.5 (2000):  84-89.

back to top