Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 5-12, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the life of boxing champ Muhammad Ali, one of the most iconic athletes of the 20th century. After exploring Ali’s story, students will write a freestyle poem honoring this boxing champ and activist.  

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Brainstorm what they know about Muhammad Ali using Make-a-Map.
  2. Watch a movie about Muhammad Ali to learn about his life, as an athlete and an activist.
  3. Take notes using a star diagram.
  4. Use notes to write a freestyle poem about Muhammad Ali.
  5. Make a movie of their poems using Make-a-Movie (optional extension activity).



  • Preview the movie Muhammad Ali to plan for any adaptations.
  • Make copies of the Star Graphic Organizer.
  • Open Make-a-Map in the Muhammad Ali topic page and display on the whiteboard. Create a spider map and type Muhammad Ali in the center. If you want, you can also add a picture of him from the movie, but be sure to also label with his name, too. You will use this map for students to brainstorm.
  • Lesson Procedure:

    1. Tell students that today they will watch a movie about boxing champ and activist Muhammad Ali.
    2. Ask students what they know about Muhammad Ali. Encourage them to share not just what they know about Ali as an athlete, but other facts they know, too. For example, some may know he was a civil rights activist. As students share, add their ideas to the spider map. Save the map for reference later.
    3. Show the movie Muhammad Ali on the whiteboard to the class once through without pausing.
    4. Distribute the Star Graphic Organizer and have students watch the movie again on their own. As they do, instruct them to use the Star Graphic Organizer to take notes about Ali as a boxer, civil rights hero, role model and Parkinson’s patient.  Remind them to pause the movie as needed to take notes.
    5. After watching the movie again, have students use their notes to write a freestyle poem -- the style Ali was famous for.
    6. For classes with My BrainPOP accounts, invite students to use the Make-a-Movie tool to narrate and illustrate the poems they wrote.  
    7. Finally, have students share their poems either by speaking then or showing their movies if they made them.

    Extension Activities:

    Invite students to test their knowledge by taking the Muhammad Ali Challenge.

    Divide the class into small groups. Assign different Related Readings to each member of a group. Have students read their Related Reading and share what they learned with their group.

    Students challenge themselves to put events in order in Time Zone X: Muhammad Ali.