Harlem Renaissance Teaching Ideas - including web connections and activity suggestions


  • Library of Congress
    This is an annotated list of resources available about The Harlem Renaissance through The Library of Congress. Includes lesson plans and learning activities

  • Kennedy Center for the Arts
    The Kennedy Center for the Arts has created this website. This site includes audio & video clips. Requires REAL Player or equivalent software

  • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
    This site is an "exhibition website". The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (NYPL) created this site which include a timeline of the Harlem Renaissance. This site also includes audio & video clips.

  • PBS Biographies
    PBS aired a film titled "Jazz". On this website, there are links to some of the famous musicians of the Harlem Renaissance Period. Those included are Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith. Audio samples of their work are available.
      Suggested ideas:
      Listen to the audio clips of music. Students complete response journal writing. Talk about the mood of the music. How does the music reflect the culture of Harlem Renaissance? Compare/contrast Harlem-era jazz with current jazz

    Suggested Unit Activities

    Before the Unit

  • Build prior knowledge:
    • Create a list of known artists of the Harlem Renaissance
    • Classify the artists as visual artists, musical artist, or literary artists
  • Build knowledge of the historical era
    • Develop a timeline of significant events in African-American history during late 19th & early 20th century

    During the Unit

  • Provide opportunities for students to build note taking skills about the famous people of the Harlem Renaissance through "cloze" outlines.
  • Create a "t" chart. List the name of the artist on one side; on the other list 2-4 descriptors about the artists' works
  • Conduct mock interviews with the artists of the Harlem-era. Students can then publish their interviews in a newspaper or create their own "Hollywood-type" entertainment news show.

    After the Unit

  • Students construct their own exhibit about the Harlem Renaissance. Discuss what qualities contribute to a "great exhibit". Create a rubric with the desired qualities.
  • Reflect upon this quote from Langston Hughes: "Harlem was not so much a place as a state of mind, the cultural metaphor for black America itself."
  • Discuss how the artists of the Harlem Renaissance reflected African-American culture during the early 20th century.
  • Compare the early jazz music to today's contemporary music. Are there similarities?

    bullet Harlem Renaissance

    We welcome your comments
  • Ohio Literacy Resource Center - Celebrating 10 Years of Enhancing Adult Literacy 1993-2003 Ohio Literacy Resource Center
    Research 1 - 1100 Summit St.
    Kent State University
    PO Box 5190
    Kent, Ohio 44242-0001
    Phone: 330-672-2007
    In Ohio Only: 800-765-2897
    Fax: 330-672-4841
    TTY: 330-672-2379
    Instructional Planning Strategies Trade Books Lesson Plans Other Web Resources