The Poetry of Poe: A Troubled Life

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SWBAT analyze various accounts of Poe's life portrayed in different mediums through comparison of details in the textbook and a biography video.

Big Idea

The darkness in life of Poe reflects the darkness his works are known for.

Introduction: It's National Pizza With Everything (Except Anchovies) Day!

3 minutes

I welcome students to ""National Pizza With Everything (Except Anchovies) Day" and let them know that we will be discussing pizza toppings in more detail for our next "favorite" poll. 

Although more of a "soft" holiday than most this week (Veteran's Day, World Kindness Day, World Diabetes Awareness Day), I wanted the students to have a"fun" holiday as part of our community-building. 

What Do You Know About Poe? A Broody Brainstorm

10 minutes

I ask students to take a minute or two, and brainstorm what they "Know about Poe," either from their look at the biography or what prior knowledge they possess. I ask them to share what pops into their head when they hear the name, "Edgar Allan Poe?" After students have jotted down their responses, we'll "share out" what they think of when they think of Poe. 

By giving students a chance to brainstorm, they'll be able to prepare their thoughts, and "pause to think" to activate prior knowledge and demonstrate comprehension of the previous reading. This allows students to prepare for the discussion, and explicitly draw on that information they know from previous classes or personal reading of Poe (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1a).  

"Biography": Edgar Allan Poe

35 minutes

As a transition, I ask students to recall the three characteristics of Romanticism. I then add the Gothic interpretation of these ideas, and highlight the comparison between the Romantic and the Gothic, with a specific focus on how Gothic writers looked at the "dark" (or, as their textbook puts it, "brooding") side of Romanticism. I note that Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Bram Stoker, who we discussed last week, are all example of "Gothic" writers. 

In order to provide students with background on Poe's life and the connection between his works and his life, students will spend part of the period watching the "A&E Biography" on the life of Edgar Allan Poe. (A&E  has made this video available to the public.) As they watch, I ask students to create three columns in their notes, and identify how the three elements of the Gothic period appear in Poe's writing and life. As they have already read a brief biographical sketch for homework, students will analyze the accounts of a Poe's life told in different mediums, and take note--in both writing and class discussion--of which details are emphasized in each account (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7). I chose to show the video for this reason, and because it provides students the opportunity to "hear" some of Poe's work read in a voice that would be similar to his own. 

Two-Minute Warning: Wrap Up and Extension

2 minutes

With two minutes remaining (and thirty minutes into the "Biography"), I stop the film, and cold call a few students to share what their reactions are to the video.  I also note that we'll be continuing the last fifteen minutes of the video tomorrow, and their homework is to read "The Masque of the Red Death," in their textbooks, for Monday*, taking notes on the elements of Gothic literature, as noted above.

*Students do have six days to read the story, which is a bit long, but we will not have an opportunity to discuss it until then. Also, given the complexity of the text, I want to provide them with ample time to tackle it. 

(Thanks to the University of Virginia for making "The Masque of the Red Death" available in the public domain. "The Masque of the Red Death" was published before January 1, 1923; it is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.)