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Looking for an innovative unit on “The Cask of Amontillado” that will get your students sharpening their close reading skills, discussing big ideas, and exploring literary elements on a deeper level?
These lessons on the classic tale of revenge will push your students to dig deep, get creative, and fully appreciate Poe’s brilliant work.
Students will start off writing and discussing quotes on revenge; this bellringer activity will help them to focus, get ready to work, and begin to explore the essential questions of the text. With the addition of the vocabulary list which has been tailored to the questions, they’ll be ready to tackle this challenging and fascinating story. Both of these pre-reading activities make great choices for homework as well.
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. The questions that I have included are designed to get students reading carefully and noticing the artistry of this seemingly simple story. These questions also make great homework assignments. 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.
Next, you’ll delve even deeper into the nuances of the story with the no-prep discussion questions. Since Montresor is a very unreliable narrator, we can’t always take what he says at face value, so looking at all possible answers to the questions is a great way to get students to embrace ambiguity and nuance in writing. Again, extensive answer keys will ensure that you easily lead these discussions.
After you have gone over the details and themes of the story, you’ll have 5 different choices for post-reading activities including focused drawing, poetry writing, creative writing exercises, and a fun sketch comedy video. 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 element of this unit is the final writing project: an ironic how-to (think The Onion as written by Montresor, Poe’s unreliable and murderous narrator). With this assignment, students truly enjoy revising and editing their writing! I have found that the best way to get students to truly understand difficult literary concepts is to get them working with those devices in their own writing, and this assignment really helps them to understand irony in a new way.
When you teach “The Cask of Amontillado” with this resource 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.