Short Story Lesson Plans: "The Tell-Tale Heart" Vocabulary
By Lenzi Hart
Edgar Allan Poe uses a wealth of enriching vocabulary in "The Tell-Tale Heart". This lesson will provide you with a list of words and definitions from the story and give you excellent ideas for teaching the vocabulary.
Vocabulary List and Definitions
These words are listed in the order that they are presented within The Tell-Tale Heart story:
ACUTE - (adj.) keen, sharp
DISSIMILATION - (n) diguise
VEXED - (v) distress, bother
PROFOUND - (adj.) intellectually, thoughtful
SAGACITY- (n) brightness, ingenuity
STIFLED - (v) restrained, squelched
SUPPOSITIONS - (n) guess, belief
CREVICE - (n) crack, gap
TATTOO - (n) continuous drumming
WANED - (v) diminish, lessen
SCANTLINGS - (n) beam of wood
DEPUTED - (v) authorize, commission
AUDACITY - (n) recklessness, daring
SINGULARLY - (adv) especially, exceptionally
FLUENTLY - (adv) easily
VEHEMENTLY - (adv) fiercely, violently
GESTICULATIONS - (n) gesture
DERISION - (n) mockery, disdain
HYPOCRITICAL - (adj) deceitful, pretending
Ideas for Teaching the Vocabulary
There are many ways to teach vocabulary, and I have found that the traditional method of having the student write the word down and then look it up before reading the story is not effective. Implementing that method is what I consider "busy work" and it doesn't seem to help with vocabulary retention. Let's discuss a few methods I've found to be much more effective.
Teaching Vocabulary in Context: What I love about teaching vocabulary in short stories, is that you can usually provide all students with their own paper copy of the story. This enables students to write on the document and annotate in the margins. You can copy and paste "The Tell-Tale Heart" from the Internet into a Microsoft Word document and then underline and bold the vocabulary contained in the list above.
This method of vocabulary instruction enables students to identify vocabulary within the context of the sentence. While reading the story aloud, stop at the vocabulary word and have students theorize possible synonyms within their groups or individually. The first few words model how to do this by re-reading the sentence and performing "think-aloud" with your students. That is, you verbally illustrate how YOU come up with the synonym of a word.
Ask your students, "What is going on with the character in this paragraph? What words surrounding are vocabulary word can give us possible clues to the meaning of the word?" Verbalizing the steps that you as the teacher implement to discover meaning, is an effective method of teaching students to do the same with foreign words or phrases. Only after students have done their best to analyze and identify a definition using context clues would I allow them to use a dictionary.
Vocabulary Games: After you have analyzed the entire story and identified the definitions, you may want to review students with this fun STICK IT TO VOCAB lesson plan. This is much more effective than simply memorizing the word. Since I do this activity several times a year, I require two packages of sticky notes per student. Sticky notes are part of their supply list and will enable you to do this lesson four or five times a year.