Langston Hughes Delivers a Message About His English B Class

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SWBAT identify and interpret themes and give supporting evidence from the poem, Theme for English B, by using a poetry analysis organizer.

Big Idea

Helping students determine theme and poetic devices by using a TP-CASTT poetry analysis organizer and a rigorous comprehension quiz.


10 minutes

I begin this lesson by reviewing the objective, explaining to students that the purpose of today’s lesson is to continue how to identify and interpret themes.  I explain that today's poem is Langston Hughes' Theme for English B.  I also explain that a district Unit 4 assessment will be given at the end of the month and to do well on this test they will need to be able to analyze several poems.  I explain that I will give them a quiz on this poem with similar types of questions that will be asked on the Unit 4 assessment but that they will first use a TP-CASTT organizer to help analyze the poem with supporting evidence.   

I then pass out poetic terms quiz 2 and project on the screen an online stop watch  The quiz is the same as given during my previous day's lesson, "Daybreak in Alabama:" Students Identify and Interpret Themes.  I give these quizzes because I think it is important to re-teach to reinforce and improve retention of the learning.

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

I tell students that they will be watching a video clip (below) of a high school student who talks about what this poem, Theme for English B, means to him as an African American.  I ask students to use their journals to take notes as they watch a short video clip. The video will provide some information that will support theme and poetic devices used in the poem. As they watch the video clip they are also to make a note of how the poem affected the student.

After the video clip I have students turn and talk about the evidence they collected listening to the student talk as they watched the clip SL.9-10.1. As they are talking I circulate and listen to the conversations. I then have a couple of students share with the whole group.  I then pass out a copy of the poem THEME FOR ENGLISH B  for students to read to themselves as I read out loud.  I want them to understand that in order to develop an understanding of poetry they may need to hear and read it several times.  

Background Knowledge

Sometimes students do not have the essential background knowledge enabling them to fully understanding the text.  We review these vocabulary words that I think are important to know and that they most likely are not familiar with: 

  • Bessie – Bessie Smith jazz singer
  • Bop -  type of upbeat jazz
  • Bach – Sabastian Bach classical music composer



Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

I pass out the TP-CASTT Poetry Analysis  organizer and ask students to work in pairs or individually to find evidence RL.9-10.1 in the poem to determine meanings of words, phrases, and the main purpose to get to the final theme, and connotative meanings in the poem RL.9-10.2.   They're given approximately 15 minutes to fill out this organizer.  As students answer the questions on the organizer, student TP-CASTT, I circulate among them checking for understanding and keeping them focused on the task.

8 Higher Order Thinking Questions

After students complete their TP-CASTT, I explain that the next quiz (yes another quiz) will be difficult It's difficult...  I also let them know that with effective effort and practice, they can find the correct answers and that in doing so it will help prepare them for their Unit 4 assessment.  I explain that each question will indicate the lines in the poems in which the answers can be found but it is essential that they read and re-read the lines to determine the correct answers.  To get them started I read the first question out loud and the three options that they can choose from.  I then circulate among them encouraging full participation and focus on the quiz Theme For English B by Langston Hughes quiz. The questions on this quiz assess their understanding of the poems theme or central idea its development over the course of the poem, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details RL.9-10.2

Wrap Up

10 minutes

Class Correction

For the wrap up activity I ask students to exchange their quiz with the person next to them as we correct the quiz as a class.  I do this because I want to address student questions before to much time passes.  I also want this quiz to be a formative assessment helping me understand what I need to do to prepare them for similar rigorous questions that will be asked on the district unit assessment.