Applying TP-CASTT To Two Poems: Analyzing and Comparing Langston Hughes's A Dream Deferred and Dream Variations

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SWBAT identify and interpret themes and analyze the impact of word choice on meaning in the poem by using a TP-CASTT organizer to identify and analyze supporting evidence in each poem.

Big Idea

Students read two poems about reaching dreams and compare how the poet's rhythmical expression of his thoughts and feelings differ.


10 minutes

A Favorite Lesson

I always look forward to teaching this lessons for several reasons. Langston Hughes makes it very clear to his reader that he has mixed feelings about the state of external and internal affairs in North America during the Harlem Renaissance period.  Hughes uses intense tone and diction to express the struggles of African Americans in our country at that time.  I found that these situations were clearly evident for my students in the poem A Dream Deferred, and had relevance to the personal lives of those who are African Americans.

 To begin the lesson I ask students to answer the following questions in their journals which are stated on slide #2 in my A Dream Deferred and Variations  power point presentation:

  • What is the definition of deferred
  • What is something that you have “put off” to another time?  
  • How has someone prevented you from getting what you wanted?

If students have difficulty defining "deferred", I let them know that the answer is in the second question.  

I ask these questions because I want students to begin to access the themes of today's lesson: achieving one's dreams and impediments to achieving a dream.When students are finished answering these questions I select a few students to share their answers with the class.  

Building Knowledge

20 minutes

A Dream Deferred

Students are given a copy of the poems A Dream Deferred and Dream Variation and the TP-CASTT organizer.  You may wonder why I continue to use this TP-CASTt organizer in my lessons in this unit. Building understanding takes repetition, especially for my students.  Using the TP-CASTT is an excellent organizer to help students begin the process of analyzing the poems we will be reading.

Before reading the first poem, "A Dream Differed," I ask students to make a prediction about what they think the poem is about.  I ask them to write their predictions on the TP-CASST.  I use the Cold Call technique to elicit responses form the students.

Next I explain that we are going to read the poem "A Dream Deferred" which Langston Hughes wrote to express his thoughts and feelings about the dreams of black Americans during the early 20th century.

To begin to understand and analyze a poem it often takes several times of reading and hearing the poem read.  Students are next asked to read the poem silently as I read it out loud.   I then ask them to read it again to themselves.  I ask then ask them to watch and listen to the poem being read again on the power point slide #3.

Academic Choice

Now it's time to begin analyzing the poem.  During the activator students already answered the first question asking them to predict considering the title what the poem is about.  As we discuss the poem students annotate the poem to analyze the the use of figurative language, RL.9-10.4.  Using the docucamera I model answering the first three questions of the TP-CASTT questions, which include citing evidence RL.9-10.1, by facilitating a conversation about the poem.  

When differentiating a task I offer students choices on how to master the required skills. Choices should reflect student interest, learning styles, and ability.  In this lesson I identify the students who have the ability to answer the questions on the TP-CASTT  and offer them the opportunity to peer teach or work individually. Answering the questions with evidence from the poem offers a higher level of mastery than matching answers to questions correctly because it forces the student to answer "why" is this correct.  But some of my students need to have this modification for their engagement for this lesson and I will ask them the "why" questions when circulating among them.

I  give students a choice to demonstrate their understanding of theme (RL.9-10.2), tone (RL.9-10.4), and shifts by either working individually writing answers to the questions on the organizer Student TP-CASTT or matching sentence strip answers while working with a partner ( see VIDEO Partners Work)  to the questions on the TP-CASTT poetry analysis organizer.    

I circulate among the students as they complete their choice of assessment asking them questions VIDEO Checking for Understanding and keeping them focused on the task.

Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

Dream Variations

To continue our close look at the messages Langston Hughes wants to convey regarding the theme of achieving one's dreams as an African American during the Harlem Renaissance, we move onto another poem by the same author about dreams. Students are next given “Dream Variations” and, like we began with "A Dream Deferred", they first are asked to make a prediction about what the poem is about.  I use the Cold Call technique to elicit responses from the students.

I explain that we are going to read the second poem, "Dream Variations" which Langston Hughes wrote to express different thoughts and feelings about his dream for himself. The focus here is first to analyze this poem, like we did with "A Dream Deferred" and then begin to compare. 

I read the poem aloud once and and then I ask my students to read it to themselves. We then watch and listen to a reading of the poem which is on slide #4 on my power point presentation.

Students are then asked to individually highlight/underline key words or phrases (2-3 words) that are most powerful.  They then share their words/phrases with a partner, SL.9-10.1.

Next using TP-CASTT organizer, RL.9-10.1 citing evidence for their responses, students go deeper into analyzing the theme and impact of word meaning in the poem (RL.9-10.2 and RL.9-10.4) while I circulate among them to check for understanding and maintain focus on the activity.


Wrap Up

10 minutes

TP-CASTT and Take Home Quiz

I use a student's completed TP-CASTT to project onto a screen and discuss the analysis of the poem "Dream Variations."  I then give students a take home quiz for homework  POETRY QUIZ Dream Deferred which includes comparing and contrasting the two poems themes and the use of figurative language because these are the essential to know elements of analyzing a poem, and they serve to bring this lesson full circle as students will begin to move toward comparing the two poems through the summary question at the end,  RL.9-10.2.  

As a group we will review answers during the beginning of the next lesson, and for those students who do not complete their homework I will give them another Poetry Quiz to complete during our discussion.