Dreams by Langston Hughes Lesson Plan

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

This lesson plan utilizes a text lesson as well as discussion questions and a poem writing activity to summarize and analyze ~'Dreams~' by Langston Hughes. The lesson concludes with a quiz as an exit ticket.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify the use of metaphors in 'Dreams'.
  • Explain the meaning or theme of the poem.
  • Create their own sonnets mimicking 'Dreams'.


30-40 minutes.

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.1

Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.5

Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.10

By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Key Vocabulary

  • Poetry
  • Stanza
  • Metaphor
  • Figurative Language


  • Handouts of the poem for all students
  • A screen to show the video and copies of the text lesson for each student
  • Notebook paper and writing utensils
  • Copies of other Langston Hughes works if necessary


  • Before using this lesson, be sure students already have a basic understanding of poetry and figurative language.
  • To begin, post this journal question on the board: What dreams do you have for your future?
  • Allow students 5 minutes to write a short journal entry on their individual dreams. Call on a few volunteers to share with the class.
    • Discussion Question: What would your life be like if you had no dreams for your future? What would the world be like if no human being had dreams? (You can even bring up advances in technology, the world of medicine and health, and other inventions that may never have come to fruition)
  • Distribute copies of 'Dreams'. Read through it as a class.
    • Discussion Question: What is the overall message in this poem?
  • Now refer to the lesson Dreams by Langston Hughes: Summary & Analysis
  • Watch the full video lesson.
    • Discussion Question: How do the metaphors contribute to the poet's message?
    • Group Activity: Split the class into groups of 4 or 5. Have each group come up with a list of metaphors they can use to show how negative life would be without dreams. This can be a timed competition to see who can come up with the most, or just brainstorming for the following independent class activity.
    • Discussion Question: How does the structure of the poem influence its message? (You can have the groups discuss first, then share with the class).

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