Finding the Central Idea in Hughes's Memoir: Salvation

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SWBAT determine the main ideas and central theme in the memoir Salvation by reading text and analyzing the use of allusion.

Big Idea

Examining allusions reveals the moral crisis that people can go through when discovering religion


10 minutes

I want to make certain students have an understanding of the "power words" that reflect the theme and experience the author writes about in this essay. For the activator I project a Word Splash of the vocabulary words in Salvation.  The words are on the last slide, #14,  on the Langston Hughes power point presentation.  I give each student a half piece of paper and ask them to write the vocabulary word and its correct definition form the word bank.  Next, I ask students to work with a peer and decide on the correct definitions which we review as a class as required in the standard RL.9-10.4.

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

In this section I teach allusion because Hughes refers to the bible several times in his essay.  The use of irony in that his experience with trying to be a "good boy" by attending church lead to his confusion and frustration ultimately telling a lie.  I begin this part of the lesson by writing the word Allusion on the board.  I ask students to share what they think it means.  After listening to their responses I project these points on a screen using my docucamera while explaining that writers often use allusion to:

  • Engage you (the reader) and to help you remember the message or theme of the passage or story.
  • Allusions also help the writer to give an example or get a point across without going into a lengthy explanation.

I then ask, "So what is an allusion in literature?" I then project the definition and as I read it I ask them to write the definition in their journals:

  • Allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to a place, person, or something that happened L.9-10.4
  • The event can be real or imaginary and may refer to anything.  In Salvation Hughes refers to a religious book. 

I know that allusions are great but are contingent on my students knowing about the story, book or event that is referenced.  I then ask what religious book,RL.9-10.9, does Hughes reference when saying, "to bring young lambs to the fold."

Next I give them another example of allusion buy saying: 

  • “Jose was a real Romeo with the ladies.” I ask what is the allusion referencing? (Romeo was a character in Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, and was very romantic in expressing his love for Juliet).  

I then write the word Irony on the board and remind them of our discussions from the previous lesson.  I explain that Hughes uses irony and biblical references to show that no matter how bad a person wants something, it just might not happen. As standard RL.9-10.2 requires studetns to determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, I explain that by using such ironic biblical terms, Salvation also establishes the precedent that life can be very unpredictable even when someone tries very hard to have an experience such as young Langston.

Before finishing reading the text I ask the question, "Think of a time when you wanted something very much but just could not get?" After a brief sharing I explain that that feeling of frustration is just part of what the twelve year old Langston experienced in this story.  I make the point that we are also reminded of the insurmountable pressure adults can put on children. 




Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

Students began reading Salvation during the end of the previous lesson. Today they are asked to  complete reading the memoir while answering comprehension questions integrated into the text.  I ask them to to highlight or underline passages that helps them understand a central idea or message the author is establishing and the details that provide a summary of the story RI.9-10.2.

I check for understanding using Guided and Independent practice checking as students answer questions and find evidence of theme.  

Wrap Up

10 minutes

Ticket to Leave

I tell students that tomorrow's lesson is going to look deeper into the messages the author is giving us in this short essay.  To create literary empathy and relevance,  As a Summarizer I ask students try and put themselves into the mind of Langston Hughes and to write a few sentences describing in their own words what they think is the central idea of Salvation.