Introduce your students to Langston Hughes, one of the most influential poets of the 20th century. There are activities to guide your students through analysis of two of Hughes's poems, as well as an informational text that highlights some of the experiences that shaped him as a champion of equality and black rights. This resource, originally designed as a poetry unit for ESL students, is great for both Black History Month and National Poetry Month, but also works well for cross-curricular units involving the Harlem Renaissance and Civil Rights.
Activities and suggested timeline:
“Hold Fast to Dreams”: Two activity pages that help students analyze meaning and figurative language in “Hold Fast to Dreams” by Langston Hughes
“Hold Fast to Dreams: Comprehension Questions
Self-Reflection: Two writing prompts to get students thinking about the themes in the lesson
Pre-Reading Vocabulary: Use context clues and matching to introduce students (especially English language learners) to words from the informative text.
Informative Text: A text about Langston Hughes and some of the events that shaped his decision to speak out for equal rights.
Comprehension questions for the Informative Text
Pre-reading Vocabulary: A cut-match-paste activity that introduces students to some of the vocabulary in the poem “Harlem”. (Designed with beginning-intermediate English language learners in mind. Some words will seem simple to more fluent students.)
“Harlem”: Students fill in missing words in the poem and answer analysis questions.
“Harlem”/Figurative Language: Students examine the similes in the poem and note their reactions
“Harlem” Guided Analysis: Question (loosely based on the TPCAST method of poetry analysis) guide students through a deeper examination of the poem.
“Harlem” Comprehension Questions
Figurative Language Wrap-Up: Students identify types of figurative language as they work to get from START to FINISH in the maze.