Paul Laurence Dunbar
Lesson plans and teaching ideas

Listen to Poetry
Scroll down to listen to Rita Dove read "We Wear the Mask."

Paul Laurence Dunbar
Links to critical essays.

Paul Laurence Dunbar Digital Collection
Selected poetry, photos, more.

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Online Resources
This collection from the Library of Congress includes images, information about culture, lesson plans, and links to other collections.

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Selected Poems
Students read, interpret, and write poems in both standard English and dialect. They will interpret and explore their connection to poems through essays and letters. At the end of the lesson, they will work individually to interpret Dunbar’s 1899 poem "Sympathy" and (through research) place the poem both in its historical context and in its relation to their own lives. This unit plan contains 7 lessons and is designed for grades 7 and 8. The 14-page document requires Adobe Reader for access.

"We Wear the Mask"
This study guide explores background, theme, meter, figures of speech, and more.

"We Wear the Mask"
In this video, Poetry Out Loud state finalist Kristen Dupard recites the poem.

Writing Poetry like Pros
This extensive set of lessons includes an activity using Paul Laurence Dunbar's "To J. Q."

Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series: Removing the Mask
Students describe and analyze Jacob Lawrence's The Migration of the Negro Panel no. 57 (1940-41), Helene Johnson's Harlem Renaissance poem "Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem" (1927), and Paul Laurence Dunbar's late-nineteenth-century poem "We Wear the Mask" (1896). Focusing on composition, image, setting, characterization, and tone, students are invited to compare and contrast the works while considering how each work represents the life and changing roles of African Americans from the late nineteenth century to the Harlem Renaissance and The Great Migration. Dunbar's symbol of the mask can help guide students' understanding of these changing roles.