Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Unit: The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe

After a few weeks of teaching both sections of Freshman Writing Seminar, my mentor teacher encouraged me to add the 10th grade Honors class as well. Shortly after, I took on the two sections of 10th grade co-taught as well, resulting in my teaching five of the six classes.

The first unit I taught the 10th graders involved an in-depth study of the short story, "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe.

Below is an OUTLINE of the unit and the accompanying documents:

Students will have already read the story.

Introduction/Review definitions of prominent literary devices (allegory, setting/mood, symbolism, personification, imagery, and theme).

Begin discussion of plot/summary of the story. What is this story about? What is happening?

Discuss characters: Prince Prospero, Knights/Dames of court, ballet-dancers/musicians/Beauty, and Red Death

HW: Read Background Info on Edgar Allan Poe and the Black Death. What connections can you make between The Masque of the Red Death, Poe’s life, and the Black Death?

Review HW: How does Poe’s life and the historical context of the Black Death play a role in this story?

Define: Gothic in literature
Setting, Imagery, and Mood
Word Choice: Denotation/Connotation

How do Imagery and Setting contribute to the eerie mood of the story?

Watch The Mask of the Red Death Short Film:

**Slight nudity at 4:00 mark, but brief.

Similarities/Differences to the story and your impressions of the story.

HW: Science Connection, Ques. 9 on p. 89 (How to people avoid death today?)

Symbolism: The Rooms, The Clock, Dreams

Allegory/ Themes
What is the story behind the story? And how does it relate to the themes of the story?

HW/Formal Assessment: Choose one of the literary devices and explore its use in the story in depth. One page.

 Honors versus Co-Taught:

This lesson was taught to the honors class first and they were able to finish the discussion in the three days planned. However, I knew that the unit would need to be adjusted for the two co-taught sections who would be less engaged in whole-class discussion and struggle more with identifying the story's elements. So, I restructured the unit, so that there would be less whole-class discussion, more group work, and handouts to scaffold student thinking. 

For the co-taught classes, I had them read the biographical and background info in groups in class. They discussed in groups what they believed the connections to be. The next day, we discussed the plot and characters as a class using the students' annotations as starting off points in the discussion. On the third day, we watched the video as a hook into the day's discussion of imagery, setting, and mood. On the fourth day, students once again worked in groups to complete the symbolism worksheet. On the last day, students Think, Pair, Shared what they believed the theme of the story was. After groups shared, we discussed allegory as a whole class.

After teaching the 10CT classes this unit, I realized that the honors class would have greatly benefited from this more engaging structure as well. 

Unit Materials:

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