Langston Hughes, p. 17
Through both words and images, this feature introduces your students to the Harlem Renaissance poet Langston
Hughes and his immortal poem “A Dream Deferred.”
MAIN Skills and TEACHING OBJECTIVES
This lesson will help your students:
nalyze a poem
• Improve visual literacy by examining the life of a famous poet
BACKGROUND INFORMATION (10 minutes)
Have students look at the photo and headlines on page 17.
How many of them have heard of Langston Hughes? What was the Harlem Renaissance? To provide background, read aloud the box about the Harlem Renaissance on page
19. Given this information and what they know about
American history, what might students guess the title of the poem “Harlem: A Dream Deferred,” means?
Vocabulary (5 minutes)
Project or distribute page 1 of “Vocabulary: Langston
Hughes” from Scope’s Web site. Review the definitions.
(Page 2 of this worksheet has a vocabularyreinforcement activity.)
ANALYZING POETRY/VISUAL LITERACY
Go online to find a link to an audio/video presentation of “A Dream Deferred.” Play it once for students to simply listen to. Then play it again and have students follow along in their magazines. Ask the first four after-reading questions, which start below. Then have students look at the photos on pages 18-19. What can students conclude about the time period in which Hughes lived? What can they conclude about Hughes’s influence? After reading the rest of the text, ask the final critical-thinking question.
CRITICAL-THINKING AND DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Go online to find these questions in a format suitable for printing or projecting.
• What is the main message of this poem? Having to postpone or let go of your dreams can destroy you.
• How does Hughes create images of what could happen to a dream deferred? (literary device) He uses similes to compare dreams with different things that have gone bad over time. Go online for a reproducible about similes and metaphors.
• Many lines in the poem, including the last one, are questions. Why do you think the poet wrote it this way?
(understanding author’s purpose) He wanted to make the reader think. Also, point out that these are rhetorical questions, in which the poet implies the answers with his questions.
• Why do you think Hughes uses the word deferred rather than “put off” or “unfulfilled”? (understanding alliteration) The repetition of the “d” sound in “dream deferred” gives a more lyrical or poetic sound. Explain