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Muhammed Ali Project Ideas

Instructor: Anthony Cognata

Anthony has taught multiple grade levels in middle school, coached across contents, and has a master's degree in Educational Leadership.

Use these project ideas for a unit on Muhammad Ali. These ideas give students the opportunity to practice research skills and delve more deeply into the experience of one of America's preeminent sports figures whose impact went well beyond the ring.

Studying Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali's life was something truly special. Born in Lexington, Kentucky, few would assume that the young man would grow up to become a sports icon who influenced American perceptions, a civil rights advocate and champion, and a symbol of anti-war sentiment. But Ali did grow up to be just these things and so much more. His life runs parallel to some of the most important events of the 20th century. By studying him, students have an opportunity to examine a real-life person's responses to those events and gain an understanding of the experience. Use these projects to expand students' understanding of an important sports, civil rights, and black power figure.

  • Note: Any of these projects can be done by students individually, but they are also great for group projects and collaboration as well!

The Muhammad Ali Story

With this project, students write their own book telling the story of Ali. Give students the option of making it fiction or non-fiction; a fiction example might have them playing themselves as the narrator and friend of Ali, for example. After doing research on his life and deciding how they want to to tell his story--and which parts are most important--have them write then create their book. These can be done either by hand or with a computer, but have students include the major parts of a book - a front cover, a dedication page, title page, bibliography if doing non-fiction, etc. After their book is complete, have a book fair in class where students give a short presentation on their book and then give peers time to look at each other's work.

  • What they will need: Computer or library access; criteria for diary completion; materials to make a physical book (paper, stapler, coloring/drawing materials for cover, etc.); up to 3 minutes to present their story; rubric for how you will grade their story and their presentation of the material
  • Note that this project should take 3-4 class periods to complete and prepare, but additional time will be needed for actual presentations. The presentations should last no longer than 3 minutes each.

Muhammad Ali's Scrapbook

Through this project, students should present Ali's life through his own eyes. Have students research his life then create their own scrapbook as if they were him. Students can include diary entries, letters, pictures, and whatever other personal artifacts they can think of to tell Ali's story from his perspective. When completed, give each student a minute or two to describe their scrapbook, and then allow them to share their scrapbooks with each other so that they may learn from their peers' scrapbooks. Have students jot down the most important information from each scrapbook. After everyone has had a chance to see each others, have a discussion about what they learned from their peers that was different from their own scrapbook.

  • What they will need: access to a library and/or computers for research; printer access; scissors, glue, colored/lined paper
  • Note that this project should take 3-4 class periods to complete, but an additional part of a class period will be needed for students to describe their scrapbook and then share with each other.

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