Defining Words and Analyzing Figurative Language in Langston Hughes's Salavation

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SWBAT determine the meaning of unfamiliar words in the memoir Salvation by using context clues and by analyzing the author’s use of literal and figurative words.

Big Idea

How to find the meaning in the text while reading Hughes' Salvation.:


10 minutes

I begin this lesson by passing out my monthly Parent Newsletter.  I write a monthly class newsletter informing parents about what we are going to be reading as well as supporting a crucial partnership with my students' parents.  We read the newsletter aloud before beginning the activator.  As an educator i am always looking for ways to inform parents as well as develop a real partnership for teaching and reaching their children and my students.  I recommend you add a newsletter to your parent outreach goals. 

I want to make this lesson have real life relevance for my students.  For the activator I ask them to write about a time that they needed to be somewhere, and pretended that they were involved but really did not want to be there.

After this quick write of their experience I ask students to report out by sharing with a partner and and then ask for a few volunteers to share their experience with the class.  I then explain that being a teenager and having to be in a place that you rather not be but felt pressure to pretend that you wanted to there, is a theme of the memoir we will be reading called Salvation by Langston Hughes.

Building Knowledge: Bio of Hughes

20 minutes

I increase the time that I usually allot for this part of my lesson because of the information I feel necessary needing to be covered before reading of the text. 

  • Using a power point and a short video presentation, on slides #1-4,  I begin with a brief bio on Langston Hughes.  To analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), is common core standard RI.9-10.7.  
  • On slide #5 of the power point presentation, I hyperlink to an informative mini bio video of Langston Hughes's life (3:33).
  • On slide #6, students are ask to write in their journals basic bio facts of Langston Hughes highlighting certain facts such as his desire to travel around United States on lecture tours and abroad.  I emphasize the fact that during this time he was a prolific writer and continued to publish poetry and prose. 

Building Knowledge: Salvation

20 minutes

Next I ask students to think of words that come to mind when they think of the word Salvation. I pick on a few students to share their thoughts and then ask them to write the word Salvation and its meanings on slide#7. They continue to write the vocabulary words on slide #8 in their journals.

RL.9-10.4 focuses on determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyzing the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone. The author's use of the literary terms and irony, drives the theme in this essay. I review irony by showing photos illustrating irony, slides #9-13, and ask students to discuss why they portray irony?

I check for understanding by facilitating a discussion on irony and asking students to explain their thinking.  

Students Learning Activity

20 minutes

I pass out an adapted version of the essay Salvation and ask students to read at least pages 1-3.  Not unlike my past short stories, information is "chunked" making the text more accessible for all students, and especially those who struggle with reading comprehension.  

  • I ask students to cite evidence in the text, RL.9-10.1,  by underlining statements that explain “salvation” as described by author.
  • As they are reading, I also ask students while reading to underline any vocabulary words they come across and to indicate the possible context clues used to determine the meaning of the word.

I circulate among the class using guided practice by checking for understanding while students read silently and answer the integrated questions.

Wrap Up

5 minutes

This lesson's Wrap Up was an unplanned spontaneous activity on irony. One of my students asked if we could look at a few more examples of irony online RL.11-12.6.  I ask him to sit on my computer as I facilitated responses from students as they stood around the screen before the end of class bell.