Looking for an engaging lesson plan to get your students synthesizing different media?
Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem (A Dream Deferred)” is an iconic poem that is deceptively simple and easy to read but will inspire some deep discussion among your students. It doesn’t exactly condone violence, but it does explore reasons why people might resort to it.
Gordon Park’s photo essay “Harlem Gang Leader” was published in Life magazine in 1948, and by analyzing the way that the magazine chose to portray the young gangster featured in the article, students will explore the ways that gang life is portrayed in the media and get a glimpse into everyday life in Harlem during the 20th century.
“The Whites Invade Harlem” by Levi C. Hubert is a satirical essay about the Harlem Renaissance which was published in 1938. It is a great choice for teaching irony, diction, and tone, and for examining the ways that African American culture and people have been treated by the dominant white culture.
When you teach this resource you will:
• engage your classes with different forms of media by examining a poem, a photo essay, and a prose passage
• improve your students’ critical thinking skills by getting them to analyze how the magazine editors constructed their own story
• conquer your students’ fear of writing with thought-provoking prompts
• fulfill common core requirements while having fun
• engage reluctant learners with the alternative media
• teach your classes to question what they are told and to challenge their assumptions by discussing the photograph, poem, and satirical piece
• add depth and context to your American Literature class
• sharpen your students’s close reading skills with the proven method and easy-to-follow scaffolding
• easily and quickly plan a memorable lesson with the ready-to-go handouts included here
Students will complete questions for close reading on the poem, discuss the photo essay in a full-class discussion using the questions included here, and complete a close reading of the satirical piece by following the instructions for close reading included below.
Pairings: This lesson would fit nicely in a unit on the American Dream, race, youth, gangs, or violence. Suggestions include: Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby, The Outsiders, A Raisin in the Sun, To Kill a Mockingbird, Huck Finn, or the Harlem Renaissance.
There are no lectures or power points here—students will do the work themselves, with guidance from you. You will be empowering them with the confidence and skills to analyze art on their own.