Getting to Know Harlem

Expanding Prior Knowledge with a Poem

Book - Harlem by Walter Dean Myers
Image Scholastic Publications

Reading the classic novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison can be more interesting when students understand some of the historical and geographical references.  An assignment that works well is to plan a one-period small group research project based on the poem “Harlem”  by Walter Dean Myers.  Downloadable as .pdf . (Note audible version at this link. )

During class assign small groups to research words, phrases, and places in their assigned section of the poem, and to create hyperlinks that other classmates view during the next class meeting and can return to as they read the novel.

Begin the period reading the poem together three times and invite students to highlight, underline or circle places, words or concepts that are new, puzzling, or interesting. (1) You read aloud the first time, slowly enough to allot time for students to mark, but not to lose the rhythm or flow. (2) Then invite students to jump in to read, without raising their hands, according to the punctuation.  If multiple students begin reading and the same time, let them.  Encourage them to read as one voice.  (3) For the final reading, have the whole class read the poem aloud together.  Encourage students to continue marking as they listen and read.

Ahead of time, have poem divided into equal sections based on the number of groups you set up that period.  Assign groups then to do the following Internet assignment using their computers.

  • Meet with your partner or group, to make up a job list to complete the following tasks.
  • Divide the tasks among you.
  • Using the Internet, create logical hyperlinks to the highlighted words so that others can find information more quickly and discover what you’ve learned.

Getting started: Locate websites that will help your classmates understand the significance of these words to Harlem and the the novel INVISIBLE MAN.

  • Goree Island. 
  • Go to Drop Me Off in Harlem.  Explore the site looking for information about the highlighted words in the poem.
  • Explore all three subsites:
  • After you’ve located a logical website, create the Hyperlink,
    • highlight the address of the web page, right click and select “COPY”
    • toggle back to your Word document with the “Harlem” poem.
    • highlight the word you are linking
    • right click and select “Hyperlink”
    • click in the space “Type the file or web page name”
    • paste in the copied web page address (Ctrl “V”)
    • click OK.  The pull-down menu will close, and you’ll see the highlighted word underlined in blue.
    • verify that you’ve hyperlinked the right page by double clicking on that blue word.
    • Save your page as you finish each hyperlink.Image result for aha

You’ll need to do additional web searches to locate other information to complete your section of the poem.

  • At the end of the period, save your hyperlinked version of the poem on class folder in the file specified.

Click here to download student worksheet sheet for Getting to Know Harlem.

Click here to see words one class highlighted, then hyperlinked.



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