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Edgar Allan Poe Projects for Students

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Looking for ways to bring Edgar Allan Poe's works to life for your students? Then read this lesson to discover engaging and creative projects to use in your classroom.

Edgar Allan Poe

How can you get your students interested in learning about literature from the 1800s? These days it's hard enough to get students reading at all, let alone pieces that were written 200 years ago.

Luckily, if you are doing a unit on American author Edgar Allan Poe, you can entice your students with the horror story concepts he used in his works. From a talking raven to murder via brick and mortar, students are naturally drawn to Poe's perverse and macabre poems and stories.

The warped nature of his works provides the perfect opportunity to introduce creative classroom projects. Using projects will push your students beyond simple reading skills like recall or identification. Projects require the higher level thinking skills like analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Also, a project can allow a student who is not strong in the usual types of school work to excel at something outside the box. This lesson outlines ideas for classroom projects to use for a unit on Edgar Allan Poe.

Projects for the Artists

Students have many skills and talents. This first section focused on projects that allow an opportunity for the artist in your students to shine.

Plays

This first project uses drama to tap into the communication and analysis skills of your students. Task your class to turn one of Poe's short stories into a play. If you have read multiple stories, students can choose which piece to do. You can make this a whole class project or split students into groups, each creating the play version of a different story. Small groups are especially useful for the stories with few characters like The Cask of Amontillado. Depending on the grade level of your students, you can require a script, costumes, props and sets.

Descriptive Drawings

A second project for your students is a collection of descriptive drawings. In nearly all of Poe's pieces, the setting plays a significant role in the creepy tone and mood he is able to achieve. Have your students choose three or four poems or stories and ask them to draw the setting. Have a requirement for how many specific details from the text are needed in each drawing. Be sure to stress that the purpose of the drawing is to capture the exact unnerving atmosphere of each setting. For students who enjoy working with other mediums, you can also make this a descriptive painting, sketch, charcoal drawing, diorama, or even a bust made of clay.

Play-Acting

A final artistic project is an interactive activity involving play-acting. Depending on how many poems and stories your class has read, assign each student any character. Older students could be allowed to choose their own character. The goal is for each student to become that character, in dress and in personality. Then you can have a class tea-party, dinner party, or any other kind of gathering to give students an opportunity to interact as their specific characters. At the end of the activity, students can take turns guessing the character for each student.

Projects for the Writers

You undoubtedly have students who will love the previous artistic activities, but you will also have those who prefer writing activities. These next projects are focused on writing.

Research Papers

The first project is a research paper. Understanding an author's background, or simply further information on a topic, is always helpful to understanding his works. For younger grades, researching different aspects of Poe's life would be very beneficial for students. On the other hand, more advanced students will get more from exploring deeper issues.

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