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Activity Overview


Both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi were both influenced by the process of nonviolent protests set forth by Henry David Thoreau in his letter “Resistance to Civil Government”. As one of the key leaders of the Transcendental movement, Thoreau reflected some of the key themes of the movement that carried over into our modern consciousness. Sometimes it is hard for students to visualize what these key themes mean and how they connect to the world around them.

As a lesson, have your students create a storyboard for the three key Transcendental ideas that appear in King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Have them choose a part from the letter where that theme appears, and quote it below the picture that they create.


  • Nonconformity: refusal to accept or conform to common rules, beliefs, laws, or conventions
  • Intuition: the belief that every person possesses an understanding of right and wrong, of moral and immoral things
  • Self-Reliance: the practice of depending on one’s own capabilities to make decisions and meet one’s own needs
Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-12

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner



Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)



Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that illustrates three key Transcendental ideas in "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."


  1. Use the template your teacher provided.
  2. Find a quote from the letter that describes the theme.
  3. Write the name of the theme in the Title box.
  4. Illustrate the theme in the cell with scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



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