Harlem Renaissance Portfolio
American History, 1920’s History, Black History
Hillsboro High School
500 E. Grand Ave.
Hillsboro, Kansas 67063
This unit is designed to be used in an American History course. It could be used as part
of a larger unit of study on the 1920’s. It could stand alone as a way to help in
developing an understanding of Black History. Students should have been exposed to the
concepts of Jim Crow Laws, the Black experience from reconstruction through WW1,
and the great migration of people to the cities that took place during WW1.
Brief Summary of Unit: This unit is designed to encourage research and self directed
learning in the area of Black History, specifically the Harlem Renaissance and it’s
contributions to Black identity, Black expression, and change in American society.
Students will create a portfolio showing the results of their research. This portfolio could
be traditional (notebook; paper and pencil), or a cyber portfolio (web site).
History Standard: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of
significant individuals, groups, ideas, events, eras and developments in the history of
Kansas, the United States, and the world, utilizing essential analytical and research skills.
Benchmark 1: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals,
groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the emergence of the
modern United States.
9. Analyzes factors that contributed to changes in work, production and
the rise of a consumer culture during the 1920’s.
11. Analyzes significant developments in race relations.
12. Interprets how the arts, music, and literature reflected social change
during the Jazz Age.
Overarching enduring understandings for this unit:
-Change occurs in a society when individuals and groups unite to achieve
-The collected stories of a group of people become the basis of culture.
-Art, literature, music, and dance reflect the time period in which they
-Art, literature, music, and dance allow a society and sub-culture to
express them selves.
Topical enduring understandings for this unit:
-The Harlem Renaissance and the 1920’s allowed for creative tension that
facilitated the growth of black identity and caused a conservative backlash
within the United States.
1. Why did intolerance find a home in the 1920’s?
2. How are values and beliefs transferred from generation to generation?
3. How do people react to periods of breathtaking social and cultural change?
4. How does art, music, etc. reflect the time period it is “created” in?
5. How does art, music, etc. influence the time period it is “created” in?
Students will know…Students will be able to…
1. … the people, places, and events associated with the Harlem Renaissance.
2. … how to recognize and use appropriate web sites to accomplish the assigned
Students will be able to…
3. … identify and explain the time period known as the Harlem Renaissance.
4. … identify artists, musicians, etc. associated with the artistic movement of the
5. … analyze a time period and draw conclusions about the events of the place and
6. … utilize research and analytical skills.
7. …utilize technology to engage in research and to develop a web page as a
The portfolio will contain information and analysis of Black Life in the
1920’s…particularly Harlem…as evidenced by music, literature, and art produced by
Black Americans during this time.
Students will research 3 Black musicians, 3 Black authors, and 3 Black artists. There
should be enough biographical information to help answer the question: What brought
about their view of life? The main emphasis of the portfolio is to 1) show the impact of
the artistic products on society and 2) identify and analyze the reflection of life for Black
Americans during the time. Students should show samples (2 or 3) for each individual
presented. ( Pictures, Lyrics, passages of text, pictures of sculptures, recorded samples)
The portfolio should also describe 3 experiences Black society would have been forced to
deal with in the 1920’s. The description should discuss whether it was a positive or
negative effect, how it impacted Black society, and what it reflected about our society in
Examples of situations
Harlem Rens Basketball Tour
Performances at the Cotton Club
Finally the portfolio should include a summary of societal change that comes about as a
result of the Harlem Renaissance.
Students will be asked to share/present their portfolio in class and answer questions about
1. Present general information about the 1920’s and the Harlem
Renaissance. This could be done by lecture or by a reading. Videos
depicting life in the 1920’s could also be used.
2. The teacher should explain why the Harlem Renaissance is seen as
a significant event in American History.
3. A timeline should be presented on the chalkboard or on butcher
paper to show general events of the twenties.
4. Students should discuss, with teacher input, the conditions of
Black society before the Harlem Renaissance.
5. The enduring understandings should be given to the students to
place in their notebooks, and should be displayed in the room.
1. Read out loud in class a poem written by Langston Hughes.
Discuss the image, the topic, and the “story” of the poem.
2. Make connections with their English study and find out what
authors they already know.
3. Display and present music and art of the time.
4. Discuss the creative process and how experience impacts how we
perceive the world around us.
5. Experience through discussion and classroom activities the
segregated world of the 1920’s.
1. Rubrics should be distributed for the portfolio assignment and for
the oral presentation.
2. Provide an explanation of a portfolio, and what should be included
in the portfolio. Show an example if available.
3. A list should be provided of people and events associated with the
4. Provide appropriate web sites and book and periodical lists to help
students get started.
5. Reference should be made to the essential questions and the topical
6. Students should decide on the format of the portfolio and consider
the problems and benefits of each.
7. Students should research, analyze, and construct their portfolio
keeping the essential questions in mind.
1. As students research the Harlem Renaissance and work on their
portfolio they should consider the essential questions each step
of the process.
2. A teacher-student review should be done during the research and
development phase of the portfolio.
3. Students should fill out and complete a “Oral Presentation
Notes” form as other students present their portfolios.
4. Following the presentations the teacher asks students to identify
key people, events, and artistic products.
5. A discussion of the impact of the Harlem Renaissance on
American society and the Black experience of the 1920’s should
1. The teacher uses the rubrics provided for the oral presentation and
the performance task to evaluate student work.
2. The students use the rubrics to guide them in creating successful
portfolios and presentations.
3. The students submit a formal bibliography/works cited to the
teacher indicating the sources ( a minimum of seven). Primary
source materials should be used as much as possible. A minimum
of 4 of the seven sources should be primary sources.