ALEX Lesson Plan

"I Too, Sing America" - Harlem Renaissance Art and Poetry

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Megan Cole
System: Homewood City
School: Homewood High School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33867


"I Too, Sing America" - Harlem Renaissance Art and Poetry


In this lesson, students will analyze poetry and art from the Harlem Renaissance. Students will discuss major themes of the Harlem Renaissance. Then, students will write their own poems reflecting these themes through the website StoryJumper.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 11
United States History II: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
5 ) Evaluate the impact of social changes and the influence of key figures in the United States from World War I through the 1920s, including Prohibition, the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, the Scopes Trial, limits on immigration, Ku Klux Klan activities, the Red Scare, the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Migration, the Jazz Age, Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, W. C. Handy, and Zelda Fitzgerald. (Alabama) [A.1.a., A.1.b., A.1.d., A.1.f., A.1.i., A.1.j., A.1.k.]

•  Analyzing radio, cinema, and print media for their impact on the creation of mass culture
•  Analyzing works of major American artists and writers, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, and H. L. Mencken, to characterize the era of the 1920s
•  Determining the relationship between technological innovations and the creation of increased leisure time

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.11.5- Identify key social changes that occurred after World War I.
SS.AAS.11.5a - Identify notable people of the 1920s including Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Andrew Wyeth, Frederick Remington, Langston Hughes, Louis Armstrong, Henry Ford, W.C. Handy, Zora Neale Hurston, and Al Capone.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will be able to characterize the era of the 1920s by analyzing poetry and art from the Harlem Renaissance and composing a poem that reflects their understanding of the major themes of the time period.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:


- Copies of graphic organizer (attachments)

- Copies of poetry rubric (attachments)



Technology Resources Needed:

- Projector

- Teacher laptop

- Laptop or tablet for each student

- Internet Access

- List of links to poetry and art websites

- StoryJumper website accounts


- Students will need to have a basic understanding of the major themes and trends of the Roaring Twenties.

- Students will need to have a thorough understanding of the experiences of African-Americans in the United States prior to the Harlem Renaissance (slavery, Jim Crow laws, voting restrictions, lynching, Great Migration, etc.)

- You will need to take time before this lesson to set up your StoryJumper teacher and student accounts. The website is free and instructions on creating a teacher account with class accounts are here:

- Creating a class through StoryJumper allows you to manage and view students' completed projects.

- For the poetry and art analysis, students will be working in pairs. You may want to group intentionally to accommodate weaker or more advanced students. Set these up before class.



Display the painting Midsummer Night in Harlem by Palmer Hayden (1930) on the projector. Ask students to share their first impressions. Then, guide students in a discussion on the colors, theme, historical context, and message of the painting.


Introduce students to the term "Harlem Renaissance" by reviewing the word Renaissance and by discussing the city of Harlem. You may want to show them this History Channel video as an introduction.

- Assign students a partner and allow them to get their computers or tablets set up.

- Give each student a copy of the Harlem Renaissance graphic organizer (attachments).

- Each pair will choose two poems and two pieces of art from the Harlem Renaissance to analyze. You can let them find these on their own through an internet search tool or you can give them websites. The following are websites on which to find poetry and art:

- After each poem or piece of artwork viewed, pairs will analyze the piece using the graphic organizer.

- When students are finished (about twenty-thirty minutes), bring class back together to lead students in a discussion on the major themes of the Harlem Renaissance. Require students to cite specific evidence from the poems or art. Make a list of themes on the board for students to view.


Give students time to work individually to write their own poems that incorporate the major themes of the Harlem Renaissance. You may want to make this a homework assignment.

- Next, students will log in to their StoryJumper account that you have set up for them. Each student will type their poem into their storybook. Require students to break up their poem into several pages so that it reads like a storybook. Students will then add pictures or photographs to reflect the themes of their poems. The StoryJumper website allows students to select artwork from the site or upload their own photographs. Students can gather pictures from the internet to upload to their story.

**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download.

Assessment Strategies

- An informal formative assessment takes place during the class discussion after the poetry and art analysis. Check for students' understanding of the Harlem Renaissance here.

- Formal assessment: StoryJumper poem books. From your teacher account, you can access your student books to grade. Use the attached rubric to assess effort, creativity, and understanding of the Harlem Renaissance.


- Students can read and share their poetry with the class.

- StoryJumper also allows you to make student stories public. You can have students read and analyze each other's poems.


- Pre-select poems and art for students who have reading difficulties. You can choose poems with simpler vocabulary and clearly show the themes of the Harlem Renaissance.


View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.