Poem Analysis and Author Research: We Wear the Mask

Grade Levels
6th - 12th
Formats Included
  • Google Docs™
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This set of activities is not intended to be a packet of work for students. Instead, this poem analysis should happen over the course of 4 days, with students engaging in discussion and working together to understand the poem, the author, the time period. This is a culturally responsive activity and should be handled as such. It is important to note that this poem represents the plight of Black people at the turn of the century. Unfortunately, many of those plights are still present today. Differing opinions, backgrounds, and experiences will receive the poem differently and answer some of the questions from their personal lens. 

What You Will Need: A copy of the poem - https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/paul-laurence-dunbar

What’s Included: 

  1. Activity 1: Reading Comprehension (First and Second Read): Requires students to use a reading comprehension strategy to break down the poem.
  2. Activity 2: Research the Author - Paul Laurence Dunbar: Requires students to use Google to research information about the author and the time period. Students make connections to the poem.
  3. Activity 3: Reading Comprehension (Second Read) - Requires students to read the poem again, now with more context, and answer comprehension questions.
  4. Activity 4: Reflection - Students reflect on what they've learned and how it applies, or does not apply, to them.
  5. Activity 5: Examining the work of Paul Laurence Dunbar - Students work in a small group to analyze an additional poem of choice by Paul Laurence Dunbar.


For additional culturally responsive and culturally relevant activities, see below:

Black History Month: A Brief History

Black History in the Making: Marley Dias

Black History: Misty Copeland


Need vocabulary?


- NO PREP: High School Vocabulary (4 weeks) Unit 1

- NO PREP: High School Vocabulary (4 weeks) Unit 2

- NO PREP: High School Vocabulary (4 weeks) Unit 3

- NO PREP: High School Vocabulary (4 weeks) Unit 4

These units build and can be used consecutively.


- NO PREP Middle School Vocabulary (4 Weeks)

For additional practice with vocabulary words, check out my Vocabulary Graphic Organizers.

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Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.


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