The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

Teacher Guide by Rebecca Ray

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This Teacher Guide Includes:

    Looking for inspirational engagement for your students during your unit of Poe’s The Raven? Check out this teacher guide full of creative ways to use storyboards that excite your students!

    By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!

    A Quick Plot Spoiler of The Raven

    The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe is one of the most famous poems by the American storyteller. The poem takes place in December just after midnight as a depressed man is sitting in his library partially napping reminiscing about Lenore, his dead lover.

    Suddenly, he hears a knock and he thinks it is coming from the front door, he apologizes and opens the door to find nothing. Thus being a little startled the man commences himself it was only the wind against the window and goes to the window to open it for some fresh air. Once he opened the window a raven flies in.

    The Raven sits perched on a small bust above the door. Meanwhile, the narrator begins to talk to the bird and inquires if the bird has a name; The Raven replies with “Nevermore.” Surprised at the birds response the narrator continues to question him however he does not get very far as the birds only reply to each question is “Nevermore.”

    The narrator slightly fears the bird thinking perhaps he is the bird of evil sent to torture him. However, he asks his last and final question that is, will he ever hold his love Lenore again. It becomes clear throughout the poems that the man is delirious and distraught over the loss of his love.

    Essential Questions For The Raven Unit:

    1. How do great writers create a mood that a reader can feel through their work?
    2. What are the parts of a poem and how can we learn to analyze its meaning?
    3. How do literary elements affect a reader's understanding of a work of literature?

    Plotting the Events in "The Raven"

    A common use case for storyboard that is for students to create a Plot Diagram of the events from a novel. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of a plot but to reinforce major events and help students develop greater understanding for literary structures.

    Poe’s “The Raven is perhaps one of the most unmistakable poems ever written. With its morbid obsession, eerie tone, and captivating imagery it is a poem that is hard to forget.

    One activities which can significantly help students to grasp the concepts and understand what is going on in the poem is to have them create a Plot Diagram of the events in the poem. Because of the narrative style in which it was written and the lengthy number of stanzas with repetition the poem also falls under the category of a ballad. The Sstudent then can use the familiar plot diagram to track the events, thoughts, and interactions of the main character and the raven in the poem.

    Example Plot Diagram:

    • Introduction (Setting/Time)
    • The Raven By Edgar Allen Poe Setting is a home where a man sits sleepily in his chair, at midnight on a bleak December day.

    • Conflict
    • The man is distraught over the loss of his loved one, Leanor.

    • Rising Action (Protagonist/Antagonist/Point of View)
    • Suddenly he hears a knocking, tapping, rapping at his chamber door. He soon finds out it is a raven. Not his love, Leanor.

    • Climax
    • After a lengthy conversation with the bird the speaker asks if he will ever see Leanor again and the Raven replies; 'nevermore'.

    • Falling Action (What is Learned)
    • Angry with the birds answer the speaker kicks him out!

    • Conclusion (Theme)
    • The sorrow and sadness that comes with the loss of a loved one is something that can never be undone.

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    Using TP-CASTT to Explore The Raven

    Poetry is one of the most expressive forms of literature. It can evoke emotions, set a mood, tell a story, or create a feeling that can be deeply and universally understood by its readers. This makes it even more important to be able to expound its elements and understand its rich meaning, comparisons, and symbols. Teaching students to look at a poem with an order of operation in mind will greatly help them to understand and see beyond the literal words. Using the TP-CASTT method is the perfect way to get students reading and inferring with little assistance from the instructor.

    TP-Castt is an excellent way to teach students to dissect a poem and understand its parts, as well as the deeper meaning within the poem. TP-CASTT is an order of operations similar to PEMDAS for math. It asks students to list items in sequential order and answer questions based on their reading of the poem.

    For explanation of steps see our article on Analyzing Poetry with TP-CASTT.

    • Title:
    • Title: I believe the title will be about a black bird and the bad luck it will bring.

    • Paraphrase:
    • Paraphrase: A man loses someone he loved named Lenore. He is very devastated. However, one night in December when he is sitting in his room, he hears a knock. A raven comes to visit him and makes him angry because he tells the man he'll never see his love again.

    • Connotation:
    • Connotation: Beyond the literal meaning, the man is severely depressed and is not talking to a bird.

    • Attitude/Tone:
    • Attitude/Tone: Poe uses words like chamber, ponder, weary, bleak, ghosts, and embers to make the dead come alive. These words are depressing and very melancholy.

    • Shifts:
    • Shift: A shift occurs when the speaker asks the raven if he will ever she his love again. This happens to show his anger with the bird, who kicks out.

    • Title:
    • Title: After reading the poem my title was partially correct. The poem was about a raven. However, he brought sorrow and death.

    • Theme:
    • Theme: One interpretation of the theme is that even though death is painful and sad, one must not dwell on the death because if they do it will consume them.

    This is a great activity to have students do in a small group!

    Once they are finished ask them to create a storyboard with the TPCASTT Steps:

    Depicting Literary Elements

    When teaching Poetry it is often helpful to front load poetic terms to refresh or introduce to your students. Words like metaphor, simile, stanza, alliteration, personification, rhyme scheme, and onomatopoeia just to name a few.

    After you have read the poem ask your students to do a scavenger hunt using the storyboard creator. Give them the list again and have them create a storyboard that depicts and explains the use of each literary element in the poem! They will have an absolute blast and earn mastery of the words when they are completed. Check out this example below:

    Below I have found six literary elements that Poe uses in The Raven!

    • Alliteration
    • Repetition of a sound

      Example: "While I pondered weak and weary"

    • Simile
    • A comparison using like or as

      Example: "Suddenly there came a tapping, as of someone gently rapping"

    • Metaphor
    • A comparison without using like or as

      Example: "And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor"

    • Personification
    • Giving human-like qualities or characteristics to something.

      Example: "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore"

    • Onomatopoeia
    • When the spelling of a word mimics its' sound

      Example: "...and so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door" tap...tap...tap

    • Assonance
    • The repetition of a vowel sound

      Example: "Eagerly I wished the morrow; -vainly I had sought to borrow, from my books surcease of sorrow"

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    Visually Depict and Explain Key Themes, Symbols, or Motifs in The Raven

    Valuable aspects of a literature are the concepts of theme(s), symbols, and motif(s). Part of the common core ELA strands is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult to get students to anatomize without much assistance. Howbeit, using a storyboard students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts and master their ability to analyze deep literary elements. For best practices see our article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities for theme(s), symbols, and motif(s).

    An example of this in the classroom could be to track the rich symbolism that Poe uses throughout the entire Poem.


    • The Raven:
    • Typically ravens represent bad luck and even death. In Greek mythology ravens are seen as a messenger, perhaps this is why the speaker believes that he’s come with a message from Lenore.

    • The Bust of Pallas:
    • Is a reference to the goddess of wisdom and enlightenment. The speaker wants the noise to be Lenore, he even hopes the ominous raven can give him new about his lost love.

    • Lenore:
    • The name itself means light. This is very curious considering the dark and ghastly overtones of the poem. Therefore one interpretation of the symbolic significance could be that she was the speakers light, and without her there is darkness.

    Poe-cabulary Boards!

    In any classroom vocabulary is a critical component for expanding student knowledge. A perfect way for students to practice vocabulary skills is to create storyboards that show the use of a word in a real life context or visually depicted as meant in the text. When students define a word and use it in context, they master it and retain as part of their own vocabulary.

    Vocabulary words from The Raven:

    • Ponder: To think or reflect deeply on a subject.
    • Bleak: Unpleasant, cold, damp, dreary.
    • Wrought: Shaped to fit by or as if by altering the contours of an moldable object.

    Teachers Note: There are two ways that you can use Poe’s vocabulary to teach your class. First, you can have students come up with their usage for each word in an original sentence authored by them! Second, you could have them find the usage of the word in the text and depict what the word means!

    Visually Depicted Word Meanings from The Raven:

    • Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary….
    • Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December...
    • And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor…
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    Make it Modern! A Modern Day Poe-tation!

    Take Poe’s “The Raven” and have students turn it into a modern day adaption.

    An excellent way to get students thinking about the poem is to have them make it a Modern Day Adaptation. Before choosing a creative writing project, students must first understand the poem and what makes it so unique. Keeping the elements of the poem in mind students should create an adaptation that follows most of the same pattern plot. However, they may use a more modern setting, word choice, and speaker.

    For the example below I wanted to create a Modern Day Adaptation of "The Raven" by maintaining a similar meter and keeping the same subject matter. To create a proper modern adaptation the works structure must be preserved. When I do this in my classroom I always ask my students to reread their first draft and ask themselves does this sound and feel like the original. If the answer is "yes" they have achieved their goal.

    The Beginning of a Modern "Raven"

    Once upon a night so stormy, while I wondered with my homies... With a pile of old comic heroes of ages ago... I felt the tiredness so haunting, so I went directly home.

    Out of nowhere came a scratching, almost like a rat, scratching at my bedroom door... must be a rodent and nothing more. scratch, scratch, scratch! Soon I quickly remembered, about what happened to Uncle Pete last December, who ignored the scratching at his basement door. So, I grabbed my mag-light, fading, with batteries needing replacing, and forced myself up to the door...

    Other Lesson Plan Ideas

    1. Create an alternate ending to the poem by creating a storyboard that shows and tells the story from a different perspective.
    2. Ask students to complete a storyboard biography of Edgar Allen Poe. This is a great pre-reading activity!
    3. Ask students to create a graphic novel using multiple storyboards that depict the various works of Poe.
    4. Add a presentation to any storyboard project.

    From Our Artists

    From Stephanie (Head of Creativity)

    Poe is the leader in cult classic horror works from the dark romanticism era. His visual text paints pictures of the macabre while engaging with rhythmic pacing that moves in sync with your uneasy heartbeat.

    • Personal Favorite: Poe is known for creating an ominous atmosphere in his work. It was fun to use Storyboard That's customization tools like the color selector, filters, and possible to try to replicate that mood.
    • Pro-tip: Customize your storyboards by using items from search to place objects on the shelves, a fire in the hearth or items on the mantle. Go the extra step by placing pictures and frames on the walls! Adding these details will make the storyboard pop!

    Did you know? Items specific for The Raven are available in image search using the term "Poe". You can also find Poe himself, in the character tab labeled 1600's to 1950's.

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