What a fun poem of darkness and madness. Maybe those should go together, but I do find this tale of a midnight dreary has high engagement, in spite of the length and language. There are a lot of activities to do with “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe to help students dig into the text.
Activities for the Raven:
Prepare for the poem by defining challenging words and allusions first. One great way to do this is to create a list of vocab terms and phrases in order of the text for students to refer to while they are reading. Like a make-your-own annotated version.
Guiding students with reading and inference questions is a useful way to make sure they are engaged and processing. Good questions can also help draw their attention to certain parts of the poem to review and think about.
Watch a video version of the poem or listen to an audio version for some differentiation. The Simpsons did a version of The Raven, once, which gets student’s attention. It’s the Simpson’s, but it’s accurate to the text and includes images to help with understanding- and discuss if students agree with Bart’s commentary. Or read the poem dramatically for students to help them hear the increasing madness (bonus for really getting into it!)
Tweet the poem! My students really enjoyed the “Raven Tweets” activity where they had to retell the poem in short ‘tweets’, like on Twitter. Then we discussed (or wrote, depending on the class) how that format affected the mood. It was part of ongoing discussion of media and literature.
Analyze the literary devices in the poem by putting them on sticky notes on the board. There are a number of literary devices used, giving lots of choices for sharing. Can also lead to discussion about the use of those devices.
Write a prequel to the poem about the relationship with Lenore. Could be written as a narrative or as rhyming poem in the same format as the original.