Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

*Click to open and customize your own copy of the Malcolm X Lesson Plan.

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Malcolm X, and supports the standard of understanding how individuals have contributed to social change in the United States. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of projects.


Display an image of civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., such as the one shown below: 

Ask students:

  • Who do you recognize from this image? What do you know about them?


  • Read the description on the Malcolm X topic page.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Have students read one of the following Related Reading articles: “Quotables” or “Arts and Entertainment”. Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY 

Students synthesize their ideas and express them through one or more of the following projects. They can work individually or collaborate.  

  • Make-a-Movie: Produce a mini-documentary describing the events and figures that shaped Malcolm X’s leadership in the American Civil Rights Movement. 
  • Make-a-Map: Make a concept map comparing and contrasting the philosophy and strategies of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Creative Coding: Code a digital museum exhibit featuring important symbols from Malcolm X’s childhood and political life.
  • Primary Source Activity: Examine and analyze FBI files.


Reflect: Students reflect on what they’ve learned about Malcolm X. Prompt them by asking questions such as: 

  • How did Malcolm X’s views change over time?
  • How did religion influence Malcolm X and Dr. King differently?
  • How did Malcom X’s beliefs and goals differ from other Civil Rights leaders?

Assess: Wrap up the lesson with the Malcolm X Challenge

Step 5:  Extend Learning

Time Zone X: Malcolm X: This interactive timeline game challenges players to put historical events in chronological order.

Black History Unit: Continue to build understanding around important Black history figures and events with more BrainPOP topics. 

Additional Support Resources:

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments