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Teacher Lesson Return to "Langston Hughes: The Soul of Harlem"
Langston Hughes: The Soul of Harlem
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English/Language Arts Lesson: Langston Hughes: The Harlem Poet

Reading Comprehension, Discussion, and Written Response

• Students will write organized and support-focused body paragraphs.
• Students will explore the life and influence of one of America’s most acclaimed poets, Langston Hughes.
• Students will search out and utilize thoughtful textual evidence to support their claims.

• Harlem Renaissance
• Defer
• Fester
• Archivist
• Vulnerable

• MEAL worksheet (below)

Before the Activity:
• The author writes, “I’m sure some people didn't think they had the heart or brains to describe something intelligently because they’d been put down for so long and made to feel stupid.” Have you ever felt frustrated or restricted by other people’s opinions of you and your abilities? How did you respond to their expectations?

Activity 1: Reading
• Read the article as a class.
• Instruct students to take notes on the different claims and beliefs that the author espouses about Langston Hughes throughout the article.

Activity 2: Discussion
• Ask students to share the author’s beliefs about Hughes. Keep track of them on the board and ask students to take notes.
• With each statement ask students where they learned that piece of information. If a student claims that the author, Desmin Braxton, describes Hughes as the catalyst for the Harlem Renaissance, they should back that up with evidence like: “He [Hughes] made it possible for other African American poets to be noticed” (Braxton, YCteen).

Activity 3: Writing
• Ask students to identify the elements of an essay. As they do this you will want to keep track on the board making sure that you place them in the correct order. (According to this template, everything in an essay should be there to explicitly prove and connect back to the thesis statement.)


Body Paragraphs
-Main Idea
-Example or Evidence
-Link back to the thesis

-Explains the main points and connects them to the thesis

• Explain to students that in order to prove a point you must develop explain it, support it with textual evidence and then analyze that evidence to show how it proves your thesis.
• Brainstorm some thesis statements with the class and decide on one that works, such as:

Langston Hughes was a revolutionary artist not only because of poetry, but also because of the racial barriers that he struck down through his poetry and other writings..

The Harlem Renaissance was a major development in the African American art culture which Langston Hughes helped pioneer.

• Students will write a body paragraph for a persuasive essay that answers the question: How did Langston Hughes inspire Desmin? Ask students to brainstorm the different ways the author was affected by the poet. Keep track of the ideas on the board for students to transcribe.
• Each student may pick a different discussed idea. Then they must find a quotation from the article that supports that belief.
• In order to write the paragraph, ask students what they will need to prove their claim. Just like any argument, they must provide support. They must also explain those supporting points so they expressly explain the topic they are discussing.
• Hand out the MEAL worksheet. They should use this worksheet to help outline a body paragraph. Model how the worksheet should be filled out with an example you already discussed earlier in the class.

Activity 4: Extension Homework
• Continue to use the MEAL template to build another two body paragraphs.
• This will help cement the understanding of the structure of a support driven argument. It will also prepare students for a full-length essay that they can complete in the following days.

MEAL Worksheet



The “Meal” Paragraph
M – Main Idea
E- Example/ quote
A – Analysis
L – Link back to the main idea or to the next paragraph

Working Template:

Main Idea:




Aligned with Common Core Standards for English Language Arts 9-12

Common Core Standards for Reading:
Key Ideas and Details
RI.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says.
RI.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
RI.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
Craft and Structure
RI.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
RI.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.

Common Core Standards for Writing:
Text Types and Purposes
W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Production and Distribution of Writing
W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grades 9–10.)
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Range of Writing
W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening:
Comprehension and Collaboration
SL.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
SL.3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.
SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

Anchor Standards for Language:
Conventions of Standard English
L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Knowledge of Language
L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
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