K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • read and comprehend the short story “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • identify and explain the use of literary terms and techniques in the work.
  • analyze the characters’ motivations and apply themes from the story to their own lives.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

5 days


  • a copy of the story for each student
  • colored pencils and blank paper
  • worksheet with pre-activity, post-reading, and written response questions

Technology resources

computer lab with access to a word processing program, Microsoft Publisher/PowerPoint, and the internet


  • Teacher gives mini-lecture informing students of biographical and historical information about Edgar Allan Poe (see relevant websites in the sidebar).
  • Teacher gives the students a pre-reading assignment (see attached worksheet) to build their background knowledge and to connect their personal experiences to those of the main character. Teacher asks them to write brief responses (2-3 sentences) to the attached suggested questions.
  • Teacher facilitates whole class discussion of their answers to the pre-reading questions. (approx. 15-25 minutes)
  • Teacher writes the definitions of the following words on the board and instructs the students to copy them: cask, amontillado, Carnival, catacombs, impunity, nitre, virtuoso.


  1. Teacher and students read “The Cask of Amontillado” and teacher presents pictures of the other critical vocabulary words as they appear in the text (see Modifications for additional tips).
  2. Teacher gives the students a post-reading written assignment requiring them to answer the suggested questions (see attached worksheet).
  3. Teacher facilitates a whole class discussion of their answers to these questions (approx. 15-20 minutes). After they have established that Montresor committed this crime 50 years ago, ask them to whom and why, in their opinion, Montresor is telling this story. Students discuss these answers with teacher input when necessary.
  4. After reading the story, the teacher gives the students questions (see attached worksheet) requiring a written response emphasizing analysis of literary terms found in the text: setting, characterization, narrator, mood, protagonist, antagonist, symbol, irony, foreshadowing, flashback, and tone.


  • Teacher should include the questions in activity #4 as an assessment of student comprehension of literary terms and techniques.
  • Teacher should include both pre- and post-reading questions as a method of assessing student participation.
  • Teacher should pair students after the work of literature has been read to create an illustrated book cover. The book cover should include a picture (either drawn or clip art) and a brief synopsis of the work in an attempt to pique the interest of a potential reader. Information about the author should also be included on the inside flap.
  • Teacher should pair students for an oral presentation of a brochure, advertising the Montresor mansion as a tourist attraction. The students will be responsible for illustrating the brochure and for writing the introduction to acquire the interest of potential tourists.
  • A rubric entitled “Making a Brochure Rubric” has been created for this lesson plan and is attached at the bottom of this page. Download and save it, open in a word processing program, and print. Use rubric criteria to evaluate the brochure.
  • Teacher can modify rubric criteria to evaluate the book cover and oral presentation. See Rubistar for online help.

Supplemental information


  • Teacher brings in or creates illustrations of key words or bring in realia (cask, amontillado, Carnival, catacombs, trowel, mortar, motley, palazzo, puncheon, immolation).The critical vocabulary words listed above are in chronological order according to their appearance in the text. Teachers should group words with similar definitions to increase understanding, for novice or intermediate level English language learners.
  • Towards the end of the reading of the story (when Montresor builds the first two tiers of the wall), teacher interrupts reading with a brief trip to the vocational building for a demonstration by a vocational teacher on the use of bricklaying materials, to enhance the students’ background knowledge about Montresor’s plans.
  • Teacher and students read the story aloud in class. Teachers are encouraged to use chunking or grouping reading strategies (pausing during the reading of the story, by paragraph or event) to divide the text and make it more manageable for students. Teachers should periodically check for comprehension by asking the students questions.
  • Students should be allowed extended time at home to finish any written assignments.

Alternative assessments

  • Modify rubric criteria accordingly to suit different levels of English Language Learners (ELL aka ESL students).
  • Give ELL students an option of not orally presenting their project.
  • ELL students should be paired with a native English speaker, who could be the spokesperson for the group.

Critical vocabulary

cask, amontillado, Carnival, revenge, unredressed, impunity, catacombs, preclude, motley, virtuoso, palazzo, puncheons, mason, flambeaux, nitre, trowel, recess, mortar, gesticulation, immolation, Literary terms (see Activities)


This lesson plan was developed during the English Language Development Standard Course of Study lesson planning institutes hosted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and LEARN NC, June and July, 2004. It includes specific strategies, instructional modifications, and alternative assessments which make this lesson accessible to limited English proficient students. Please note that this lesson has been aligned with the goals and objectives of the N.C. English Language Development standards. This lesson plan is modified for English Language Learners at the intermediate high proficiency level.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Language

        • Grade 9-10
          • 9-10.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9–10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies. 9-10.L.4.1 Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence, paragraph,...
        • Reading: Literature

          • 9-10.RL.6 Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.
        • Speaking & Listening

          • 9-10.SL.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 9

  • Goal 1: The learner will express reflections and reactions to print and non-print text and personal experiences.
    • Objective 1.01: Narrate personal experiences that offer an audience:
      • scenes and incidents located effectively in time and place.
      • vivid impressions of being in a setting and a sense of engagement in the events occurring.
      • appreciation for the significance of the account.
      • a sense of the narrator's personal voice.
    • Objective 1.02: Respond reflectively (individually and in groups) to a variety of expressive texts (e.g., memoirs, vignettes, narratives, diaries, monologues, personal responses) in a way that offers an audience:
      • an understanding of the student's personal reaction to the text.
      • a sense of how the reaction results from a careful consideration of the text.
      • an awareness of how personal and cultural influences affect the response.
  • Goal 4: The learner will create and use standards to critique communication.
    • Objective 4.02: Read and critique various genres by:
      • using preparation, engagement, and reflection strategies appropriate for the text.
      • identifying and using standards to evaluate aspects of the work or the work as a whole.
      • judging the impact of different stylistic and literary devices on the work.
  • Goal 5: The learner will demonstrate understanding of various literary genres, concepts, elements, and terms.
    • Objective 5.01: Read and analyze various literary works by:
      • using effective reading strategies for preparation, engagement, reflection.
      • recognizing and analyzing the characteristics of literary genres, including fiction (e.g., myths, legends, short stories, novels), non-fiction (e.g., essays, biographies, autobiographies, historical documents), poetry (e.g., epics, sonnets, lyric poetry, ballads) and drama (e.g., tragedy, comedy).
      • interpreting literary devices such as allusion, symbolism, figurative language, flashback, dramatic irony, dialogue, diction, and imagery.
      • understanding the importance of tone, mood, diction, and style.
      • explaining and interpreting archetypal characters, themes, settings.
      • explaining how point of view is developed and its effect on literary texts.
      • determining a character's traits from his/her actions, speech, appearance, or what others say about him or her.
      • explaining how the writer creates character, setting, motif, theme, and other elements.
      • making thematic connections among literary texts and media and contemporary issues.
      • understanding the importance of cultural and historical impact on literary texts.
      • producing creative responses that follow the conventions of a specific genre and using appropriate literary devices for that genre.

English Language Development (2005)

Grade 9–12

  • Goal 0:
    • Objective 0.03: Use various reading strategies to extend comprehension.
    • Objective 0.04: Produce written expressions of opinion and reactions to information from a variety of media.
    • Objective 0.06: Interact with text before, during, and after reading.
    • Objective 0.11: Use oral communication to identify, organize, compare/contrast, infer meaning, predict, and analyze academic information.
    • Objective 0.12: Identify literary elements (e.g., plot, setting, theme, mood).