The Harlem Renaissance

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The Basics


Subject Area and/or Course Title:

Language Arts/Reading


Targeted Grade Level:

7th Grade


Time Required:

10 Days (1 Hour & 15 Minutes)


Related Standards:

Reading Standard for Literature LACC.7.RL.1.2



Nelda Jean-Baptiste


The Lesson

Introductory Narrative to Lesson:

I plan on doing a lesson plan on the Harlem Renaissance.  The class will be divided into three different groups.  The Zora Neale Hurston Group will consist of students who are above grade level, the Duke Ellington Group will consist of students who are at grade level, and the Langston Hughes Group will consist of students who are below grade level.   I will ask the students about what they know and what they have heard about the Harlem Renaissance.  I will provide them with background information on that era.  They will listen to music, view art work and read literature from that time period.  They will also watch a film on the literary significance of the Harlem Renaissance.   The students will use their laptops to research their favorite figure from the Harlem Renaissance.  We will then take a take a field trip to the Zora Neale Hurston Heritage Trail. The students will choose one of the tasks listed below.  Once they have chosen and completed their task, they will present it to the class.


Instructional Goals or Objectives:

Students will Research, evaluate, and synthesize information about the Harlem Renaissance from a variety of resources. Students will work in groups to demonstrate an understanding of the Harlem Renaissance by creating an interactive presentation in order to teach their peers. 

Procedures/Lesson Activities:

We will begin by listening to the music of famous jazz musicians : John Coltrane, Duke Ellington and Josephine Baker.  While students listen to each of these musicians, they will answer the following questions:


  1. What is music and what purpose does it have in our lives?
  2. What instrument(s) do you hear?
  3. What does the sound of that particular instrument make you feel?
  4. How does the sound make you feel?
  5. What thoughts cross your mind as you listen to this piece of music?
  6. Are you hearing it, or are you listening to it?
  7. What emotions does it evoke?
  8. When and why would you listen to that type of music?
  9. What sets this musical composition apart from others?

Vocabulary List With Definitions:

Harlem Renaissance
Great Migration

Assessment and Evaluation:

Student Reactions, Class Discussion, Portfolios, Participation
Create a stamp to honor a person from the Harlem Renaissance who influenced you the most.


Create a puzzle in which the students match up the Harlem Renaissance artists with their work.


  • ELMO, LCD projector, Laptops, Books on Harlem  Renaissance
  • Map of New York City 
  • Paper and markers
  • Videos
  • Jazz Music of that era: (Duke Ellington: “Day Dream”, “Sophisticated Lady”) (Louis Armstrong: “What a Wonderful World”
  • Brain Pop Worksheets
  • Poems (Langston Hughes “Mother to  Son” ,“Dream Deferred”) ) (Clarissa Scott Delany: “The Mask”) (Gwendolyn Bennett: “Heritage”)



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