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Real World Learning Objects: Language Arts

“The Purloined Letter”



Time: It will take approximately 2 – 3 hours for two students working together to find the story and the first publication date, read and discuss the story, and answer comprehension questions.  It may take an additional hour for individual students to deduce the necessary information and send e-mail messages.  The correspondence time may involve an additional 48 hours or more, depending on the promptness of the person’s reply.


Materials:  Computers with Internet access or copies of the Edgar Allan Poe story, “The Purloined Letter,” timeline of Poe’s life and works.


Prerequisites: General knowledge of Edgar Allan Poe’s life


Implementation: This RWLO can be used either in the classroom to read, learn about Poe and communicate with others or as a homework assignment. 




  1. Provide computers for students to open Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia on the Internet:  


    1. Ask students to scroll down to Contents.
    2. Ask students to scroll down to 6.2 Stories.
    3. Find the story, “The Purloined Letter” and the date it was published.


  1. In groups of two, ask students to read the story in its entirety and answer the six comprehension questions.  Ask students to send the instructor an e-mail attachment with the six questions and answers.


  1. If the Internet is not available, provide hard copies of the story, “The Purloined Letter,” and ask students to read it.


  1. Have an adapted version of the story available (published by Scholastic) if students have a difficult time comprehending the unabridged version of the story on the Internet.


  1. Give students time individually to deduce the author of the letter and its contents as well as surmise why Poe may have concealed information from readers.


  1. Guide students in the communication of their ideas.  They will correspond with at least two people: a fan of Poe, a deaf student, a hearing student, or an expert on Poe.


a.  Fan Listing:

b.  E-mail messages to deaf students of Dr. Jane Nickerson:

c.  E-mail messages to hearing students: or

d.  Experts on Poe (not yet running) – Talking about Poe Section:


The reasons for the correspondence are as follows:


a.   to share ideas with other readers of Poe,

b.   to learn of other’s opinions and deductions,

c.  to find out if there is agreement or disagreement as to the writer of the letter and its contents,

d.  to initiate a possible continued correspondence with other readers of Poe.


      7.  Ask students to provide teacher with hard copies of their e-mail correspondence

           and replies.