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Lenihan students use choral reading to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr.

A group of Lenihan Intermediate sixth graders recently performed a choral reading about the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., enhancing not only their knowledge of American history, but their public speaking skills as well.

Karen Roessler, Extended Learning Program teacher at Lenihan, wrote the choral reading script for students from Leah Mattox’s afternoon reading group, as well as students from Erica Finders’ and Angie Lovell’s classrooms. She used King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin’s Big Words, and Robert Kennedy’s speech as primary source material for the piece.

Choral reading is a performance process where students read a script in unison. Some sections are read by the entire group, while others read by smaller groups of students or individuals to give dramatic effect.

Plans for the performance began three weeks earlier around Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Students read aloud some books about King in order to learn more about his life. Roessler then worked with students on rehearsing the choral reading, training the students on timing, enunciation, poise and working in unison. Students could also audition for solo parts in the reading.

The practice culminated in a performance for parents and classmates on Thursday, Feb. 3, after which students evaluated their own performance and assessed what they learned.

“Many students felt this was an exciting way to incorporate the learning of history with the love of performing,” Mattox said.