A Raisin in the Sun poster

10 Great A Raisin in the Sun Assignments

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These A Raisin in the Sun assignments give students the chance to express themselves while exploring the drama’s elements in unique ways.  I have referred to the related Common Core standards at the top of each assignment.

A Raisin in the Sun Assignments preview:

  1. Element Poem
  2. Protest Speech (social justice)
  3. Character Pinterest Board
  4. American Dream Scenes
  5. Cutting a Character (argument)
  6. Original Artwork
  7. Primary Sources (historical context)
  8. Setting the Stage (symbolism)
  9. Write a Monologue
  10. Comparing Literature (presentations)

A Raisin in the Sun assignments poetry

A Raisin in the Sun Assignment 1: Element Poem

RL1-3: Key Ideas and Details

W10: Range of Writing

RL4-6: Craft and Structure

Write an original poem where the point of view (speaker) is inspired by an element in A Raisin in the Sun. The speaker might be one of the characters or even an inanimate object like the apartment, Mama’s plant, or Beneatha’s hair.

You will be graded on how well you integrate an element from A Raisin in the Sun and make creative choices in your poem. Be prepared to share your poem with the class and explain your creative choices.

Choose your key poetic elements: 

  • Speaker (who or what is speaking the poem)
  • Structure (how you chose to organize the lines and stanzas)
  • Theme or feeling
  • Figurative language (metaphor, personification, simile, hyperbole, idiom, etc.)
  • Connotations (the feelings and thoughts associated with particular words; for example, “father” has a different feeling than “daddy”)
  • Sound devices (repetition, rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, etc.)
  • Sense of time and place (dialogue, dialect, allusions, and references)
  • Tone (the narrator’s attitude toward the subject – including the level of formality)
  • Mood (how the words create feelings)

A Raisin in the Sun assignments protest speech

A Raisin in the Sun Assignment 2: Protest Speech 

W1A: Writing Argument (organizing)

SL6: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas (adapting speech)

In A Raisin in the Sun, the Youngers defy social norms and injustice by moving into a “white neighborhood.”  They take a great risk to protest the status quo and break the color barrier of Clybourne Park.  Hansberry’s drama is her protest of a social injustice.

You will write and deliver a speech on a social injustice.  Make sure to communicate a clear claim and an action that you want the audience to take.  Your speech could be for a past context (like the Civil Rights era) or the present day.

You will be graded on how well you structure your speech (argumentative writing) and craft your message for public speaking.

Identify your message:

  • What social issue are you addressing?
  • What is your claim? 
  • What is your call to action? (What action do you want the audience to take?)

Craft your public speaking:

Public speaking allows you to combine formal argument and a more creative style.  You can use devices that would be inappropriate in an argumentative essay to win over the audience.  Think about reasons that convince your audience through ethos, logos, and pathos (ethics, logic, and emotion).

Effective rhetoric / speech devices:

  • Sound devices (Repetition (slogans), rhyming, rhythm, alliteration, onomatopoeia)
  • Anecdotes / stories
  • Audience participation (call and response, encouraging interaction, etc.)
  • Demonstration / performance
  • Symbolism
  • Famous / popular examples
  • Allusion
  • Logical reasons
  • Ethical reasons (based on a sense of right and wrong)
  • Emotional reasons (making the audience feel angry, sad, etc.)

ORGANIZING YOUR SPEECH


A Raisin in the Sun point of view

A Raisin in the Sun Assignment 3: Character Pinterest Board

W6: Production and Distribution of Writing (technology)

RL3: Key Ideas and Details (characterization)

In this A Raisin in the Sun Assignment you will use Pinterest to demonstrate how Hansberry develops her characters.  Choose one character from A Raisin in the Sun and create a board (set of images with descriptions) with the character in mind.  The idea is for a visitor to get an idea of who the character is, their motivations, how the character fits in the drama, and how / why Hansberry creates the character for the reader.

15 Pins minimum (Each image must have detailed description.)

  • 5 Pins focused on analyzing textual evidence
  • 5 Pins focused on the character’s motivations and/or point of view
  • 5 Pins on how the characterization relates to other elements (other characters, a theme, the plot, a satire, word choice, or tone.

A Raisin in the Sun Common Core lesson plans

A Raisin in the Sun Assignment 4: American Dream Scenes

W3: Write Narrative

SL1A: Comprehension and Collaboration (preparation)

SL1B: Comprehension and Collaboration (decision making)

Each student group will write and perform a one-scene play.  The scene must relate to the idea of The American Dream.  It may be set in the past, present, or future.

You will be graded on how well your play demonstrates narrative elements (especially a theme on The American Dream). It need not be a complete narrative, but it should seem like part of a complete narrative.  You will also be graded on your collaboration (preparing for discussions and decision making).

Individual stage:

  • What is your point of view on The American Dream?
  • Brainstorm three ideas that could form The American Dream scene?
  • Choose your best idea and summarize…
    • Setting:
    • Characters:
    • Plot:
    • Theme:

Group stage:

  1. Set rules for decision making and discussions and record them.
    1. How will ideas be shared and a final choice selected?
    2. How can suggestions be offered by everyone?
    3. How will roles and responsibilities be determined?
    4. How will disagreements be settled fairly?
  2. Share proposals.
  3. Plan the final idea (one of the proposals, an adaptation, or a new idea).
    1. Make sure to include a clear theme.
    2. The theme must develop through one or more dramatic elements (characterization, setting, plot, conflict, symbolism, etc.).
  4. Set roles and responsibilities.
  5. Compose the script.

For a lessons on The American Dream, click here.


A Raisin in the Sun Assignment 5: Cutting a Minor Character (argument)

RL3: Key Ideas and Details (interacting elements)

W1A: Writing Argument (supporting claims)

W1E: Writing Argument (concluding)

Bad news! Your theater company has gone over budget in preparing a new production of A Raisin in the Sun. In order to save money on actors, one minor character will need to be dropped from the production. Write a proposal arguing which character should be eliminated.

You will be graded on how well you explain which characters are or are not expendable based upon how they impact the play’s elements (theme, plot, characterization, conflict, etc.)  You will also be graded on how well you support your claim and conclude your argument.

NOTE: Bobo has already been replaced by a phone call. Sorry, Bobo.

Characters nominated for elimination:

  • Mr. Lindner
  • George Murchison
  • Mrs. Johnson

Organize your argument:

  • Introduction (grabber, claim, preview of reasons)
  • Body
    • Reason 1 (evidence, explanation, address counterclaims)
    • Reason 2 (evidence, explanation, address counterclaims)
    • Reason 3 (evidence, explanation, address counterclaims)
  • Conclusion (restate claim, review reasons, final thought on why the reader should care about the issue)

ESSAY ORGANIZER PAGE

Tips: 

It would make sense to have one body section for each of the three characters (two affirmative and one negative).

Addressing opposing claims / views is easy. Here is a model: Some argue that Mrs. Johnson is a distraction from the conflicts in the Younger family. However, she is essential in developing the….”


A Raisin in the Sun assignment artwork

A Raisin in the Sun Assignment 6: Original Artwork

RL2-3: Key Ideas and Details (literary elements)

W2D: Writing Informative/explanatory (precise language and vocabulary)

You will be creating an original work of fine art (sketch, collage, graphic design, painting, sculpture, etc.) inspired by A Raisin in the Sun.  Choose one or more elements from the play (a theme, a symbol, a character, a mood, an event) to explore artistically.  

1) Plan your masterpiece. Think about…

  • Subject (What are you portraying?)
  • Emphasis (What aspects are you highlighting?)
  • Tone (your attitudes toward the subjects)
  • Feeling or theme (What do you want to communicate?)
  • Style (your techniques and creative choices)

2) Create your original artwork.

3) Write a rationale (a brief explanation). What element(s) of the play did you explore in your art? Make sure to use language arts terms (theme, mood, symbol, etc.) and artistic terms (subject, medium, technique, etc.)


A Raisin in the Sun assignments primary sources

A Raisin in the Sun Assignment 7: Primary Sources 

SL4: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas (clearly and logically)

SL5: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas (digital media)

W8: Research to Build and Present Knowledge (sources and citation)

In this A Raisin in the Sun assignment you will analyze primary sources to gain understanding of the play’s context.  Pick one of the topics below in order to present and analyze primary sources.

Primary sources are sources that are directly of the context being analyzed. Photographs, printed advertisements, recordings, newspaper articles, interviews, maps, and other media can all be primary sources if they come from the time and place.

Primary source topics for A Raisin in the Sun

  • Chicago in 1959
  • School integration
  • Segregated neighborhoods
  • Neighborhood integration
  • Employment and African Americans
  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • African American women
  • The Women’s Movement
  • Urban ghettos
  • African heritage / Pan-Africanism
  • Fashion
  • Protests / social unrest
  • Assimilation
  • Other: _____________________________

Organizing your presentation: You should have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.  Your body should be comprised of your selected primary sources with analysis and connections to the play.

Using digital media:  Choose only the most interesting and informative primary sources.  It is better to have three well-developed examples than a extensive gallery of images with little thought.

Sources and citation: Use EasyBib or another resource to create MLA citations for each of your primary sources.


A Raisin in the Sun assignments set design

A Raisin in the Sun Assignment 8: Setting the Stage (symbolism)

RL2: Key Ideas and Details (theme development)

SL10: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas (presentation with media)

Your company is competing to design the set for a new production of A Raisin in the Sun. The challenge is to stay true to the original play while adding new and interesting elements for the audience.  You can make changes as long as you stay true to the spirit of the play and give support for your decisions.

You will present your plans to the client for approval and be evaluated on how well you…

  • Design the set (layout, textures, colors, lighting, etc.).
  • Emphasize symbolism with set dressing and positioning.
  • Include a new symbolic element.
  • Explain your creative choices and the symbolism (including visuals).

(Think deep. For example, what if Big Walter’s picture actually changes it’s expression as the play develops?)

Ideas:

  • Furniture
  • Souvenirs / mementos
  • Clothing
  • The window / lighting
  • Food
  • Big Walter’s picture
  • The check / mailbox
  • Beneatha’s items
  • Big Walter’s items
  • Walter’s items
  • Ruth’s items
  • Travis’ items
  • Mama’s items
  • Religious items
  • NEW ELEMENT

Refer to the text in explaining your choices:

“That was a long time ago.  Now the once loved pattern of the couch upholstery has to fight to show itself from under acres of crocheted doilies and couch covers which have themselves finally come to be more important than the upholstery.” (23)

“The sole natural light the family may enjoy in the course of a day is only that which fights its way through this little window.” (24)

“She crosses through the room, goes to the window, opens it, and brings in a feeble little plant growing doggedly in a small port on the windowsill…” (39)


10 Great A Raisin in the Sun Assignments

A Raisin in the Sun Assignment 9: Write a Monologue

W3A: Writing Narrative (point of view)

W3D: Writing Narrative (word choice)

Write an original monologue (a scene where one person talks at length, usually to the audience). Your script for the monologue should include the lines, actions, and directions.

You will be graded on how well you create the point of view and demonstrate powerful word choice.

Three options:

  1. A character from A Raisin in the Sun at some point during the original play
  2. A character from A Raisin in the Sun at some point after the events of the play
  3. An original idea that has nothing to do with the play.  Make sure that your monologue is able to orient the viewer to the setting and point of view.

Establishing point of view:

Who is speaking?
What do they value in life? What are their motivations?
What is the context (time, place, and situation) of this monologue?
What is the character’s tone in this moment? Does the tone change as they speak?

Powerful word choice:

  • Figurative language (metaphor, personification, simile, hyperbole, idiom, etc.)
  • Connotations (the feelings and thoughts associated with particular words; for example, “father” has a different feeling than “daddy”)
  • Sound devices (rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, etc.)
  • Sense of time and place (dialogue, dialect, allusions, and references)
  • Tone (the narrator’s attitude toward the subject – including the level of formality)
  • Mood (how the words create feelings)

Malcolm X speech

A Raisin in the Sun Assignment 10: Comparing Literature Presentations

RL / RI: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

SL4-6: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

For this A Raisin in the Sun assignment, choose one text from the list below to analyze.  Your analysis should focus on comparisons to the play.

You might compare the texts in terms of…

  • Theme / theme development
  • Point of view
  • Purpose and audience (Pay attention to the context [time and place] of the text.)
  • Craft and structure
    • Word choice
    • Tone
    • Organization

You will be assessed on the thoughtfulness and logic of your comparisons.  Your presentation will also be graded on how well you organize your findings, integrate examples/media, and demonstrate a formal style.

“Caged Bird” poem by Maya Angelou: How does the symbolism and the theme relate to elements in A Raisin in the Sun?

“Harlem” poem by Langston Hughes: The title of A Raisin in the Sun alludes to this poem.

“I, too” poem by Langston Hughes: Make sure to compare the point of view of the speaker to the point of view demonstrated by Walter Younger.

“Sympathy” poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar: How does the symbolism and the theme relate to elements in A Raisin in the Sun?

“Let America Be America Again” poem by Langston Hughes: How does the speaker’s conception of The American Dream compare to Hansberry’s?  What similar criticisms are presented?

“The Beauty of Black” poem by Margaret Burroughs: Compare the themes by paying special attention to the symbolism of Beneatha’s hair.

“I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr.: Both Hansberry and King offer similar themes on the dreams of African Americans.  How are these themes approached differently?

“The Negro Speaks of Rivers” poem by Langston Hughes: Compare this poem to the play by paying special attention to Walter’s transformation into Flaming Spear.

“Song of the Son” poem by Jean Toomer: Relate this poem to the play by paying special attention to Mama and Walter’s conversations on their family history and their ideas of freedom.

“Mother to Son” poem by Langston Hughes: Compare this poem to the play by focusing on point of view, tone, and theme.

“Woman Work” poem by Maya Angelou: Think about feminism in order to compare this poem to the play.  Compare the points of view of the poem’s speaker, Mama, Beneatha, and Lorraine Hansberry.

“The Atlanta Compromise” speech by Booker T. Washington: Compare Washington’s views on the advancement of African Americans to those presented in A Raisin in the Sun.  How would Hansberry have responded?

“Back to Africa” speech by Marcus Garvey: Compare Garvey’s views on the advancement of Africans to those presented in A Raisin in the Sun. How would Hansberry have responded to this speech?

“Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others” essay by W.E.B. Du Bois: Compare Du Bois’ views on the advancement of African Americans to those presented in A Raisin in the Sun. How would Hansberry have responded to this essay?

“The Ballot or the Bullet” speech by Malcolm X: Based on the play, infer Hansberry’s views on moving forward. How does this view compare to Malcolm X’s views on moving forward?

Tips: Share the unfamiliar text as part of your presentation.  If you have a longer text, share a summary and/or key excerpts. A presentation is organized like an informational essay.  However, slides should never look like paragraphs (more like a main idea and a list of ideas the speaker will discuss).

A Raisin in the Sun Unit PDF

10 Great A Raisin in the Sun Assignments Review

  1. Element Poem
  2. Protest Speech (social justice)
  3. Character Pinterest Board
  4. American Dream Scenes
  5. Cutting a Character (argument)
  6. Original Artwork
  7. Primary Sources (historical context)
  8. Setting the Stage (symbolism)
  9. Write a Monologue
  10. Comparing Literature

These A Raisin in the Sun assignments are not meant to be formal assessments that strictly check for mastery of unit goals. These assignments are only a part of my complete A Raisin in the Sun Unit and Teacher Guide.  The complete unit has everything from pre-reading to final exam banks.

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