Analyzing a Poem by Langston Hughes to Help Students Understand How Imagery Creates Tone in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

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SWBAT demonstrate how the author’s use of imagery in a poem to establish tone and in “The Part-Time Indian” by identifying and analyzing a favorite scene in the chapter.

Big Idea

How does Imagery Create an Author's Tone?


10 minutes

This lesson is an extension of the previous day's lesson about words, imagery, and tone.  I want to continuing teaching them how tone is created in a text by analyzing a Langston Hughes poem. Even though grade 9 students should understand the use of imagery, my students demonstrated an inconstant understanding and because this novel uses a lot of imagery as a way of establishing tone I felt it important to review this with my class.


I begin the activator by writing on the board these five phrases and ask students to match them with one of the five senses: Sight, Sound, Taste, Touch and Smell.

1.  the tang of a cold glass of lemonade

2.  the chirp of crickets

3.  a full moon in a black sky

4.  a warm breeze

5.  mowed grass (I project this slide on a screen for the visual senses)

I want them to understand how imagery is determined by the five senses.  I tell them to close their eyes (this is always challenge for some students) and imagine each phrase, "a full moon in a black sky" etc. and then decide which sense is being used to experience the thought. 

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

Imagery Establishes Tone

I love my docucamera.  It has replaced the overhead projector which was also one of my low tech favorites but  I don't miss needing to make all those transparencies...  Using my docucamera, I project the poem “A Dream Deferred” by L. Hughes and read it a loud.  I read it a second time asking the students to write down  the images seen, heard, etc. in the poem before reviewing how imagery establishes tone.  I chose this poem because of its strong imagery.

I then explain how Hughes describes how a dream could have dried up in the sun. As standard RL.9-10.4 requires, I facilitate a discussion asking what images do the similes evoke as well as discuss their meanings.  I want them to understand that this shows the reader an image of not only the raisin drying up but also someones dream getting old and maybe useless to the dreamer. We then discuss how the image of a dream being compared to the "stench of rotten meat" implies that a dream unfulfilled is a missed opportunity, like rotten meat that could have been used for nourishment.

Next I point out that all these images have there own significance, but all together can help them understand that a forgotten dream is tragic. I then ask what tone do these images establish in the poem? After a brief discussion I explain how this establishes the tone of the poem which is sorrowful, because of the words used in the imagery like, "dry up","rotten", etc.. 


Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

To demonstrate an understanding of the chapters events I first ask my students to review Chapter 6 while answering questions on the Reading Guide/Quiz.

They also are asked to:

1. identify the page of their favorite scene and

2. write a 2-3 sentence summary of the scene and how imagery determines the tone.  

I circulate among the students as they answer questions and prompt them to identify a favorite scene while they read and to think about the imagery the author uses and how it establishes the attitude or tone of the text which is the intent of common core standard RL.9-10.4.



Wrap Up

10 minutes

Ticket to Leave

Ten minutes before the end of the period, I ask students to take turns reporting out by reading their favorite scene, identifying the imagery and telling how it helps establishes the tone of the passage.