Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Langston Hughes

Vicky Nichols
Bay District Schools


Come and enjoy Langston Hughes' poetry and lyrics via the Internet. No books needed!


The student determines the main idea or essential message in a text and identifies relevant details and facts and patterns of organization.

The student identifies the author's purpose and/or point of view in a variety of texts and uses the information to construct meaning.

The student knows ways in which literature reflects the diverse voices of people from various backgrounds.

The student recognizes different approaches that can be applied to the study of literature, including thematic approaches such as change, personal approaches such as what an individual brings to his or her study of literature, historical approaches such as how a piece of literature reflects the time period in which it was written.


-Internet accessible computer with speakers
-Big screen TV (optional)
-Notes for Lanston Hughes' Biography page found in the Associated file
-Test for Langston Hughes found in the Associated file


-Duplicate the pages in the associated file.
-Check out and bookmark all web sites.
-Duplicate the biography and the poetry from the sites if desired.
-Preread the test to make sure that the discussion and the questioning cover all the points.
-Optional: Secure a video dealing with the time prior to the 60's concerning civil rights.


NOTE: Poems and biography can be copied from the Websites and duplicated for entire class use. Students can also access this information on the Internet and complete the notes page in the associated file by themselves; however, they will still need to complete the discussions listed below.

1. Begin by telling students that they are going to look at the life and some of the works of a man named Langston Hughes. Ask if anyone has heard of him or his works. Tell students that they will be keeping a note page on Hughes and the poetry used in this lesson. (See associated file) They may use their notes on the assessment.

2. Share the information found in the biography located online at Website 1 listed below. This information can be given in lecture form or hand-out form. In either case, students should use the note page to record the important facts about Langston Hughes' life. At this same site is the poem, -A Dream Deferred.- Discuss the comparisons in -A Dream Deferred.- Begin by asking what the word, deferred, means. Help students to see that not realizing a dream or goal can be very frustrating and disappointing. Ask students if this poem could apply to someone of any race. Ask students if this might apply to some part of Hughes' life based on his biography.

3. To hear a quick audio of Hughes' music (jazz) go to Website 2 listed below and allow students to listen. To hear actual jazz tunes of the era, go to Website 7 listed below. Allow a few bars of a few songs to play. Preview this site before using it in the classroom. Remind students about the information found in his biography and help them to classify his music as jazz, a popular type of music during the 20s and 30s.

4. For a quick review of the era in which Langston Hughes lived, go to Website 8 listed below. Type in 'Harlem Renaissance.' Discuss the fact that Hughes lived and wrote prior to the civil rights movement of the 60s. Ask students if they know how people of different races in America were treated in the earlier part of this century. You may have to just give them information about the ethnic divisions such as the Chinese or Polish immigrants who settled here. Bring in the discrimination practiced against African Americans as well. There are several videos that explain this well, including, [A Child Shall Lead Them]. Some students will simply have no idea about this.

5. Go to Website 3 listed below. There are two poems on this site: -I, Too- and -Poem (2).- The first one deals with race and how it makes one feel when discriminated against. Tell students the second poem is 'color blind.' It discusses and addresses a problem of all races. Help students to see that Hughes wrote poetry about his race and its problems but he also wrote about problems and situations that affect everyone, no matter what race.

6. Go to Website 4 listed below and there you will find a 'color blind' poem called -Dreams.- Help students to see the comparisons (metaphors) found in the poem. Remind them that this poem applies to everyone, regardless of race.

7. At this Website 5 is an audio reading of the poem -The Negro Speaks of Rivers,- as well as the text. Discuss the poem by asking students what rivers are mentioned and why? Ask them what the author is trying to say in the poem. (Hughes mentions the Congo, Nile, Euphrates and the Mississippi to represent the span of time and how the Negro has lived in and contributed to civilizations throughout the ages. Students should be able to brainstorm and finally interpret the poem to indicate that Negroes have always been part of history and have made their contributions to society just like other races.)

8. Allow students who are capable to reread the biography and poems in order to add any notes that they wish or to change any. Students whose notes are inadequate should meet in a small group with the teacher in order to review the information and make changes. If students are not familiar with this material, they may need additional time or instruction to understand it. If this is the first time they've really looked at poetry of this time period, you may need to choose additional poems of Langston Hughes to use as examples and practice.

9. Assign the 'TEST' found in the associated file. Assure students that they may use their note pages or copies of the poems.


Students may use their note pages to complete the test found in the associated file. Answers are included. Students who are not able to answer the majority of the questions correctly may need to review the poetry and the biography again. If a student has difficulty reading the material, pair him/her with a good reader as he/she fills in the note page. Teachers may use this as a formative or summative assessment depending on the students.

Web Links

Web supplement for Langston Hughes
A Dream Deferred and Hughes' biography

Web supplement for Langston Hughes
Short audio of Hughes' jazz -click the 'Listen' button

Web supplement for Langston Hughes
I, Too and Poem

Web supplement for Langston Hughes

Web supplement for Langston Hughes
Audio of The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Web supplement for Langston Hughes
A picture of Langston Hughes

Web supplement for Langston Hughes
Sound clips of jazz

You will have to type in 'Harlem Renaissance' at this site to access the information.
World Book Encyclopedia

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