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Lagnston Hughes the Dreamer & Doer

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As Alice Walker shows in her book Langston Hughes American Poet, Hughes was a dreamer, but he also lived a life full of accomplishment due to his grit, determination, and compassion. Think about how his father acted toward his dreams when he was growing up. And think about how Hughes lived his life in response.

In the following exercise, you will look at the poetry of Hughes to see what he seems to be saying about the importance and power of dreams through his work. Here’s what to do:

Get Ready

1. Look through The Dream Keeper and other poems and find as many poems as you can that are about or are related to dreams. For each, write the title and page number.
2. In your group, share each poem once. Read it out loud. Talk about the words that stand out. (Remember the Poet’s Toolbox!) Talk about what he’s saying about dreams in that poem.
3. After you’ve read and talked about them all, see what you can come up with as a group to address this question:
What is Langston Hughes showing us about dreams through his poetry?

Collage Poem

4. For each of the poems you discussed, copy one or two key lines onto paper that you tear into strips. Use a different color strip for each poem if you can. Write in large, legible print.
5. Arrange the slips in an order that makes a new sort of “collage poem.” When you’ve agreed on the order, glue them to another piece of paper to create your collage poem.
6. Think of a title for your poem and write it at the top. Remember that a title is not a label but is part of the poem. It either sets the poem up or gets to the center of it.
7. If you have time, add visual detail to your poem paper to reflect its message.
8. Make a written copy of the collage poem for each person in the group.
9. Practice performing your poem chorally so you can present it to the group while showing them the collage.

Human Paragraph

10. In your group, choose roles. One person will be the topic and concluding sentences. One or two people will be the explanation. One person will be the evidence (Quotes Hughes poetry and gives poem titles. This person can use the book.) Make a badge to wear to identify your role.
11. Create a human paragraph by SAYING, not writing, the parts you are assigned. Your paragraph should explain what you think Langston Hughes is showing us about dreams through his poetry.
12. Use a conventional paragraph structure by starting with a topic sentence, presenting evidence and explanation to support it, and wrapping up with a concluding sentence.  The challenge is that you have to do this WITHOUT writing anything down. Discuss it, decide what each person will say and when, then practice delivering your “human paragraph.”

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