Teaching…The Raven

In this section, I have outlined how to teach The Raven – or least the first two stanzas. The lesson is heavily scaffolded and I have provided context for how the lesson is structured and chunked to assist student learning.

To start the lesson, please introduce the learning intentions and success criteria. Explain the main focus of the lesson (Analysing the language features of a small section of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven).

Next, you will want to outline the narrative of the lesson. What will students explore. There are many parts to teaching The Raven and outlining the steps is helpful for students to understanding of the where the learning is going.

Students need context. Outlining information about the author is important. Provide students within information about Edgar Allan Poe and even provide a video. There are plenty of great videos to show students and get them engaged.

Students. at this stage of the lesson, do not understand anything about The Raven. Many years ago, The Simpsons did a fantastic adaptation of The Raven. Get students to record what the poem is about based on this adaptation.

Students are now ready to read the poem. Outline how to read a poem.

After reading a poem, the first step is annotating. We need to locate words we do not know the meaning of and provide and interpretation and inference on our page. Ask students to read through and locate key words and unknown words.

The result of these annotations should look like this:

Next, you want to introduce the poetic devices. Now, the reason I don’t introduce this at the beginning of the lesson is to avoid information overload. Steadily introducing topics and information to students is information. Throwing them everything at one will only overload them.

Students are now ready to make some rudimentary inferences from the text, looking at the choice of verbs and interpreting lines.

In the next slide, students are now ready to look at different types of poetic devices (Rhyme and Assonance). Some students might still be annotating and highlighting. That is okay! Let them work through and absorb the poem at their own pace.

This is the final section of the lesson and students, after completing the work, are ready to prepare for the next lesson.

Summarise the skills they have learnt so far and encourage them to suggest an overall meaning for the poem.

Here we are: outline the learning intentions and success criteria to students. Super important and necessary. Please discuss what students have already learnt in previous lessons.

In this section, students explore the central Gothic conventions of The Raven. Ask students to record in their book and choose information from the extract to match each convention. For example, “sorrow for the lost Lenore” matches with grief, while “Angels name Lenore” matches with Death.

In this section, reintroduce the notion of denotation and connotation – something you have likely used previously.

Encourage students to record the literal meaning of ghost, along with the other words, and provide connotations for the words. What secondary meanings come to mind with this word choice?

In this section, students are looking at the word choice of the the visual metaphor “And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.”

Encourage students to look at dying ember, wrought and ghost. My interpretation of this line is that they dying flame in the fireplace is being cast upon the floor like a ghost. The word ‘ghost’, here, is being used to maintain a lexical chain related to the Gothic genre.

In this section, students begin inferring information from the text. Provide the following extract from the larger extract to analyse. By this point, they have the skill set to analyse the word choice and explore what Poe is discussing in the line.

Again, you can summarise the lesson and the previous lesson. Now, it is time to make connections to the broader context of Gothic Fiction. Can students identify why the text is a Gothic in nature?

And that is the lesson! Detailed, but it build in all the skills you want your students to learn:

  • Annotation
  • Analysing word choice
  • Identifying poetic devices
  • Making inferences

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