Skip the typical Langston Hughes introduction lecture and empower students to find their own interesting facts about this Harlem Renaissance writer’s life with the “Author Bio” print-and-go activity.
This single-page worksheet is a powerful research organizer that’ll get students digging deep into Hughes’ background.
Please note: This download does NOT include a specific article or links to defined articles. It is an organizer tool for students to use as they conduct their own research. In my experience, students take more ownership of the material when they are the ones to research and discover the elements that make a literary figure’s life fascinating. They’ve seen enough of our introductory slideshows; this time, let your kids do the work and discuss/determine what they think is meaningful about this author’s life.
Here are a few suggested uses for this flexible research tool:
1. Book your school’s computer lab or have students access Langston Hughes' biography information on their own devices. Assign students to either work solo or in teams of two. Once the grids are complete, have students share and compare answers in small groups, focusing on the four interesting facts they discovered, the meaningful quote, and the personal/professional obstacle. Then, pull the students into a full-class discussion, having each group present an interesting fact, quote, or obstacle until every team has contributed. No repeats allowed.
This assignment works great as an “into” activity, but it could also be a “through” activity to add variety to your in-class routine as you work through a longer work or collection of Harlem Renaissance poetry. If you’re using this as an “after” activity, during the discussion I would also ask how any of Hughes' biography elements are reflected in the author’s work/s the class just studied.
2. Assign the worksheet as a traditional homework assignment. Launch the discussion mentioned in #1 at the beginning of the next class period.
3. Use the grid as the beginning assignment to a larger project where students must read two or three pieces by Langston Hughes. Later, this author study could be turned into a compare/contrast essay or a speech presentation, if you wish to expand the assignment. (Author Bio sheets on a variety of different writers are available in my shop if you want to vary speech topics within one class.)
4. Use as an emergency sub plan.
I hope you and your students enjoy this activity! If you need an Author Bio worksheet for any author not currently offered in my shop, please send a message to me through the “Ask a Question” tab and I’ll do my best to quickly make that happen.
Please note: The image on the student worksheet is slightly ghosted to save printer/copier ink. I encourage students to doodle/shade in that space as they work.
Also, this item is included in my English 9-10 full-year curriculum. If you already own the full-year download, please do not purchase this item here individually. If you’d like to receive this item plus everything else needed to teach 180 days of English 9 or English 10 at a deeply discounted price, click here to learn more about the full-year curriculum download.
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Image credit: Gordon Parks, United States Library of Congress, WikiMedia Commons, Public domain