Need an engaging introduction to your poetry unit or Black History Month activities?
This free download is a fun unscramble-the-poem activity with the poem "Harlem" (Dream Deferred) that will get students thinking about the meaning of the lines and the organization of the poem. Don’t worry if students don’t arrange the lines in the same order as Langston Hughes’s work! The process of deciding which order makes sense and trying out different sequences is more important than getting the “right” answer.
Make the discussion meaningful. Acknowledge their use of rhyme, punctuation, and capitalization as features of poetry. Most students are able to pair lines in couplets. Ask them to really think about which order those pairs should go in.
Here are some comments my students made as they worked on this activity:
→ “This has to be the first line because it’s the main idea. All the rest are examples.”
→ “I used the punctuation and capitalization as a clue.”
→ “This would be easier if it rhymed. Oh,…wait…are there rhyming words here?”
After I show students the copy of Hughes’s poem, we try to analyze why he ordered the lines as he did. Having recently studied argumentative writing, one student noticed that the structure was similar to an argumentative essay.
→ “He is working from less important to most important. The part about ‘maybe it just sags’ is like his counterargument. And then he finishes with a bang!”
This free sample activity is from my Langston Hughes "Harlem"
close reading poetry analysis lesson.
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This item is part of a bundle that also includes
Langston Hughes "Dreams" and "Mother to Son"
Langston Hughes "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"
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Langston Hughes Harlem Renaissance Bundle
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