A Mini lesson on Semicolons

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" serves as an exemplar for a mini-instructional activity on semicolons. Working alone or in small groups, class members first circle all the semicolons in the letter, and then consider how this punctuation impacts the meaning of the letter.  The essential question is in each instance, why did King use a semicolon instead of a period or comma?

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CCSS: Designed
Pros

  • A link to what is considered the definitive text of King's speech is provided
  • A shorter passage from the letter is included in the resource
  • Discussion questions are included
  • An interesting way to include punctuation study into a lesson on the letter
Cons

  • Integrate the exercise into a broader study of the letter and its context