Looking for an innovative unit on “The Black Cat” that will get your students sharpening their close reading skills, discussing big ideas, and exploring literary elements on a deeper level?
This complete five-day unit will push your students to dig deep, get creative, and fully appreciate Poe’s brilliant work.
Students will start off with bellringer freewrite prompts that will help them to focus, get ready to work, and begin to explore the essential questions of the text. With the addition of the focused vocabulary list which has been tailored to the questions, they’ll be ready to tackle this challenging and fascinating story.
After they’ve read the horrible tale, your classes will work through the close reading questions which are designed with enough scaffolding to help struggling students but also with enough rigor for more advanced classes. You’ll have extensive answer keys to help them out along the way, so that you can point out important passages when they get stuck and easily conduct a full-class discussion on the questions.
After you have gone over the details and themes of the story, you’ll have 4 different choices for post-reading activities including focused drawing, poetry writing, creative writing exercises, and a focused analysis of primary source documents. There is no busy work here—all of the options tap into different learning styles and encourage students’ creativity, sense of adventure, and higher level thinking. And all of the activities make great choices for interactive notebooks as well as learning stations.
Finally, my favorite elements of this unit are the focused close reading passages and literary analysis paper. This is such a great way to introduce literary analysis essay based on close reading, and it provides just enough scaffolding for students who are not used to this kind of writing (or for those who could use some practice). Using the no-prep handouts which focus on guilt and remorse or blame and responsibility, students will analyze quotes focusing on one specific theme, narrowing and modifying their thesis based on the evidence. They will quickly realize that the text is more subtle and ambiguous than it seems at first read. And, since they are not focusing on finding the quotes themselves, they’ll be able to hone in on the analysis and really improve their skills. Then, they’ll write an essay on their findings which you can easily grade using the provided rubric.
When you teach “The Black Cat” with these resources you will:
There are no lectures or power points here—students will do the work themselves, with guidance from you. Rather than telling them what the story means, you will be empowering your classes with the confidence and skills to tackle challenging texts on their own.