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The Tell-Tale Heart Activities

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'The Tell-Tale Heart' by Edgar Allan Poe is a short story from the horror genre. The following activities support teachers as they plan instruction involving this story.

The Tell-Tale Heart

Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart is a famous gothic fiction short story about a murder from the perspective of the mentally unbalanced narrator. This story offers students the opportunity to examine a variety of literary techniques, including figurative language and an unreliable narrator, to build suspense. These activities may be used with secondary students who are learning about this story.

Figurative Language Comic Strips

Students will create comic strips that offer literal translations for figurative language students find in the story.

Materials:

  • colored pencils
  • drawing paper
  • copy of The Tell-Tale Heart

Procedure:

  • Divide students into pairs. Each pair will locate examples of hyperbole, simile, metaphor, and personification in The Tell-Tale Heart.
  • Pairs will discuss the literal and figurative meaning of each example.
  • Each student will choose one of the examples of figurative language and use it to create a 4-6 frame comic strip that illustrates its meaning.
  • Divide students into small groups to share their comics and discuss how Poe's use of their chosen example of figurative language contribute to the reader's experience.

Police Report

Students will write a police report about the murder from the perspective of a witness.

Materials:

  • police report template
  • copy of The Tell-Tale Heart

Procedure:

  • Divide students into small groups. Students will brainstorm a list of possible witnesses that might testify about the murder, such as an eye-witness, detective, the victim's family member, or psychiatrist.
  • Students will choose a witness and discuss the type of information that witness may be able to provide at a trial about this murder.
  • Groups will create a shared writing of a police report that describes the events in the story from a different perspective.
  • Groups will share their police report with the class and discuss narrator reliability.

Radio Broadcast

Students will create a mock radio broadcast that covers the trial of the murderer.

Materials:

  • computer or another device with a microphone and audio editing material
  • copy of The Tell-Tale Heart

Procedure:

  • Divide students into small groups.
  • Each group will discuss possible outcomes of the narrator's trial.
  • Groups will write a script for a radio broadcast that describes the murder, the trial, and the outcome.
  • Students will make a 2-5 minute recording of their broadcast.
  • Groups will play their broadcast for the class. Students will compare their ideas for possible outcomes and discuss the most likely scenarios.

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