Name: Matt Kowalski Age/Grade Level: 10/11 Subject Area(s)Language Arts Unit Title: Literature and African American Identity: The Harlem Renaissance Lesson Title: Claude McKay: Strength in Language Estimated Time: 75 Minutes Purpose/Rationale for lesson: The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the students to another writer that was influential during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. I want the students to gain as many perspectives on African American identity as possible from this time period. Curriculum Framing Questions: Essential Question: How does literature shape and reflect cultural identity? Unit Question that applies to this lesson: How do the themes of literary works contribute to identity and ancestry? Lesson or Content Question(s): How do the poems, "If We Must Die" and "America" by McKay address the authors sense of racial pride and fortitude? Goal: I want students to relate these two poems by Claude McKay to the issues and events of the early 20th Century Learning Objective(s): Students will listen to a reading of “The Tropics of New York”. Students will read “America” and “If We Must Die” by Claude McKay. Students will write answers to questions about “If We Must Die” in groups and share their answers with the class. Students will give me examples of literary devices used in the poem “America”. As a class we will analyze the poem “America”. Students will complete the 3 w’s closure activity Curriculum Standard(s): EL.HS.LI.16 Analyze the way in which a work of literature is related to the themes and issues of its historical period. EL.HS.RE.22 Infer an author's unstated meaning and draw conclusions about an author's stated meaning based on facts, events, images, patterns or symbols found in text. Materials Needed: Copies of the poems, projector, computer with Internet connection, speakers. Background knowledge or skills students need prior to lesson: The students will have been introduced to the causes and effects of the Great Migration prior to this literature unit. They will need to know of the struggles that African Americans faced while trying to achieve equality in the United States. Students will also need a general knowledge of WWI. Hook or Introduction: I will play a clip of someone reading Claude McKay’s “The Tropics of New York” and there will be a copy of the poem at each student’s seat. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUshPlY1OOY Procedures: I will read a short biography of Claude McKay courtesy of poets.org (5 minutes) I will write this source on the board so students can use this later for their projects. SOURCE: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/25 I will also show a picture of Claude McKay on the screen http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/m_r/mckay/mckay.htm Claude McKay Claude McKay was born in Jamaica, West Indies, in 1889. He was educated by his older brother, who possessed a library of English novels, poetry, and scientific texts. At the age of twenty, McKay published a book of verse called Songs of Jamaica, recording his impressions of black life in Jamaica in dialect. In 1912, he travelled to the United States to attend Tuskegee Institute. He remained there only a few months, leaving to study agriculture at Kansas State University. In 1917, he published two sonnets, "The Harlem Dancer" and "Invocation," and would later use the same poetic form to record his reactionary views on the injustices of black life in America. In addition to social and political concerns, McKay wrote on a variety of subjects, from his Jamaican homeland to romantic love, with a use of passionate language. During the twenties, McKay developed an interest in Communism and travelled to Russia and then to France where he met Edna St. Vincent Millay and Lewis Sinclair. In 1934, McKay moved back to the United States and lived in Harlem, New York. Losing faith in Communism, he turned his attention to the teachings of various spiritual and political leaders in Harlem, eventually converting to Catholicism. McKay's viewpoints and poetic achievements in the earlier part of the twentieth century set the tone for the Harlem Renaissance and gained the deep respect of younger black poets of the time, including Langston Hughes. He died in 1948. --Next I will hand out copies of the poem “If We Must Die” by Claude McKay. I will instruct the students to read this poem and then I will read the poem aloud. (10 minutes) If We Must Die (1919) If we must die, let it not be like hogs Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, Making their mock at our accursed lot. If we must die, O let us nobly die So that our precious blood may not be shed In vain; then even the monsters we defy Shall be constrained to honor us though dead! O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe! Though far outnumbered let us show us brave, And for their thousand blows deal one death blow! What though before us lies the open grave? Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack, Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back! Source: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5130/ Claude McKay, “If We Must Die,” in Harlem Shadows: The Poems of Claude McKay (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1922). --Next we will discuss the themes of resistance and self determination and fortitude in the face of oppression that are present in this poem. I will ask the students to give me examples of these themes in the poem. I will write their examples on the white board. --I will group the students into table groups of three and ask them to respond to the following questions that I will write on the board: (10 minutes) 1) Who are the “we” that the speaker refers to in this poem? 2) Who or what is the speaker referring to when he talks about “mad and hungry dogs”? 3) Who is “the common foe”? 4) Who is “the murderous, cowardly pack”? --Each group will choose a representative to share their responses to the questions above. I will allow time for students to challenge the responses of their classmates in a respectful manner. (5-10 minutes) --I will remind the students of some of the events that took place during the time that this poem was written. I will point out that many soldiers were returning from fighting in World War I. I will remind the students of the race riots in Chicago and East St. Louis that we previously learned about. Then I will read to them an excerpt from a book entitled Harlem Renaissance by Nathan Irvin Huggins: In later years, when Arna Botemps collected on a phonograph record an anthology of Negro poets, McKay claimed that it was not just a Negro poem. He said, following World War II, that he had never considered himself a Negro poet. He claimed that he had considered “If We Must Die” a universal poem, for all men who were “abused, outraged and murdered, whether they are minorities or nations, black or brown or yellow or white, Catholic or Protestant or Pagan, fighting against terror.” Yet, in the Messenger in 1919 and in Harlem Shadows in 1922 no one could doubt that the author was a black man and the “we” of the poem black people too. (p.72) Source: Huggins, Nathan, Irvin. Harlem Renaissance. 1971. Oxford University Press. New York I will ask students to write on their papers if their responses to the questions on the board changed at all after I read the preceding excerpt. (10 minutes) ---Next I will ask students to return to their seats and I will pass out a copy of “America” by Claude McKay courtesy of the Poetry Foundation website. America BY CLAUDE MCKAY Although she feeds me bread of bitterness, And sinks into my throat her tiger's tooth, Stealing my breath of life, I will confess I love this cultured hell that tests my youth. Her vigor flows like tides into my blood, Giving me strength erect against her hate, Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood. Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state, I stand within her walls with not a shred Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer. Darkly I gaze into the days ahead, And see her might and granite wonders there, Beneath the touch of Time's unerring hand, Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand. Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=173957 Claude McKay, "America" from Liberator (December 1921). Courtesy of the Literary Representative for the Works of Claude McKay, Schombourg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tildeen Foundations. Source: Liberator (The Library of America, 1921) --I will once again have students read the poem individually first, then read it aloud for the students. (5-10 minutes) --Using Popsicle sticks, I will call on students to give me an example of or explain the following from the text: personification, simile, metaphor, explanation of mood, imagery, and symbolism. I will instruct the students to take notes. (5-10 minutes) --Next I will ask students to help me dissect the meaning of this poem. We will go through the poem line by line try and understand the meaning of the poem. I will ask the students, what is the speaker’s opinion of America in this poem.? Does the speaker seem to have conflicted feelings about America? Why could that be? Does the speaker talk about talk about oppression in this poem? Where and how does the speaker respond to oppressive treatment? I will write their ideas on the board and instruct the students to take notes. (15-20 minutes) Differentiation/Accommodation: The reading in today’s lesson is fairly minimal and we will discuss the two poems in class extensively. I will provide visuals of the poems and write notes of the class discussion on the board. The students will work in groups for part of the period and I will allow students with learning disabilities to work in groups if they want to work with others. Attention to Literacy: We will listen to and watch a clip of “The Tropics of New York”. I will provide visuals of the poems and write notes of the class discussion on the white board. The students will read two poems and listen to me read both poems aloud. Closure: At the end of class students will write down the 3 w’s of the lesson. The students will hand these slips to me as they leave the classroom. (5 minutes) 1) What did we learn today? 2) So What? (how was this lesson relevant, important, or interesting ) 3) Now What? ( How does this fit into what we are learning about the Harlem Renaissance? How does this affect the your thoughts about Harlem Renaissance literature? Adapted from a list of strategies from Ann Snipe of Grandview School District, Grandview WA Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning: I will assess student learning by participation in the class discussions. I will collect all the student writing from the lesson and evaluate their understanding of the material based on their responses.