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APPROACHING WALDEN in the Search for Self

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Transcript of APPROACHING WALDEN in the Search for Self

APPROACHING WALDEN in the Search for Self


Know the term Transcendentalism and be able to explain the core principals of Transcendentalism.

Know background information about Henry David Thoreau

Experience solitude in nature and reflect on that experience through writing

Discuss and evaluate the benefits and limitations of voluntary simplicity

Recognize, reflect, and write about the importance of individual identity

Evaluate the benefits and dangers of conformity
Recognize and reflect on the power and impact of words and writing
—our own and others—on shaping identity

Consider the impact of tone and voice.
Recognize similes and metaphors in Thoreau’s writing and understand how the use of figurative
language can enhance one’s understanding of an idea or concept
Make personal connections to the points raised in Walden
Lesson 2: Essentials of Life
Materials needed: Students need their journals. Notes on metaphors and similes. Copies of text
book containing excerpts of Walden. List of guiding questions for discussion.

Opening Activity (>10 mins): The lesson will open with a quick check of student homework and
questions pertaining Thoreau and the Transcendentalists. This will serve as a review of the
information students went over in the previous lesson. (>10 mins.)

Activity #1 (10-15 mins): In groups of 4-5 students will discuss their journal entry from the night
before. Each student must share his or her entry and explain what makes the items they listed
“essential.” Once the groups have finished sharing their ideas, the class will briefly discuss what
items were considered essential.

Activity #2 (5-10 mins): Figurative Language: Review of metaphors and similes. See attachment A.
Lesson #3: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Materials needed: Students detailed schedule from the previous day and questions for the opening
activity (Attachment D). Copies of Walden. Handout on metaphors and similes.



(10 mins): Open to your schedule from yesterday.
Look at what you did with your time. Consider the following:

1) Is this a typical day and use of your time?
2) What did you spend the most time doing?
3) What activity did you enjoy the most? The least?
4) What is one event you can eliminate from your regular schedule—even if it was not on your schedule yesterday—in order to create more free time. What would be gained with this time? What would be lost?





Discussion: After students have had time to reflect on their daily schedules, we will discuss responses to the questions posed. As a class we will reflect on “details that fritter our life a way.”



Lesson 4: Experiencing Nature
Materials needed: Students need their journals and a writing instrument
For this lesson, you need a place in nature for quiet observation.
Copies of “The Pond in Winter” and “Spring”

Opening Activity: (15 minutes): Students will begin with a journal entry in which they will reflect on
their experiences in nature. Specific prompts: Do you typically observe nature when you are in it?
If you do, what types of things do you notice? If you do not, why not? Do you have any memories
of specific observations in nature? What are they?

Objectives of this unit:
Lesson 1: Thoreau and Transcendentalism
Activity #3 (40 mins): Each student will open to the passages from Walden located in the literature
anthology Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes: The American Experience, Prentice Hall. We will begin by
reading together the section that comes from “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For.” Attention
will be focused on a close reading of Thoreau’s reason for going to Walden Pond. As the class reads
this section, key questions will be: (See Attachment B for passage—first two paragraphs. See attachment C for
a handout of the questions below)
1) What does it mean to live deliberately?
2) What do you think Thoreau meant by the essential facts of life? Why?
3) What does Thoreau mean when he says, “and not when I came to die, discover that I had
not lived.”
4) What is resignation?
5) What does Thoreau mean by the following:
a) I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.
b) To live sturdily and Spartan-like.
c) To cut a broad swath and shave close.
d) To drive life into a corner and reduce it to its lowest terms.
e) We live meanly like ants.

Are they metaphors? Similes? How do they help to illustrate the writer’s point?

Through this close reading of a short passage, students will gain a deeper understanding of
Thoreau’s points. Many of the ideas would be passed over by students if the teacher did not stop
and raise questions. It is an understanding of fewer key points like these that will enrich a student’s
comprehension of Walden
Summarizer for lesson (5 mins): In your journal, write 3-5 sentences that capture the core meaning
of the excerpt we read in class today. What did Thoreau tell the reader?

Homework: Review the handout and make sure you can understand the points we discussed today.
If there are any questions, be sure to raise them at the beginning of class tomorrow.
Make sure you continue with your detailed journal for the day until you go to bed.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 1
Part 2
Activity #2 (25 mins): In groups brainstorm: Apply the idea of the railroad to today’s society. If
Thoreau were alive today, what aspect of society would he say “rides us”? Why? Come up with as
many ideas as you can. Again, consider what would be lost and what would be gained by not having
this “thing.” This will lead to a larger class discussion on this topic.

Homework: Look over the passage we read in class today. Highlight the similes and metaphors
Thoreau uses. Choose one simile or metaphor and use the handout provided to reflect how the idea
better illustrates the writer’s point. (See attachment E)
Activity #1 (40 mins): Nature Walk: The nature walk will take place in the conservation land
adjacent to the high school. Once we have reached a designated area in the woods, students will
find a place to sit and quietly observe nature. During this time they should make notes about some
of their observations. Pictures—as long as they are accompanied by some narrative—are allowed.
Homework: Students should write a one-page entry reflecting on the experience of observation in
nature. The entry should include an overview of what they observed and their general reactions to
the experience. Students also must read the excerpts contained in the literature anthology from
“The Pond in Winter” and “Spring.” (See Attachment F and G)

Lesson 5
Materials needed: Previous night’s homework, notes on tone and voice, access to the internet

Opening activity (15 mins): Students are paired with another. They must share an observation from
the day before and also a reflection from last night’s journal. There will be three rotations of
partners.











Activity #1 (30 mins): Once students have shared their ideas, we will have a class discussion about
the experience. Also, we will draw connections with and discuss Thoreau’s experiment of living in
the woods and journaling about it for two years. This will be an opportunity to answer questions
students may have about Thoreau and his time at Walden Pond.

As a class, we will discuss the sections students read the previous night. At this point, I will call
attention to Thoreau’s descriptive language, specific details, and observation of ordinary
occurrences. The objective is for students to become aware of what it means to fully see nature.
Activity #2 (40 mins): Review terms tone and voice, discussing their impact on style. A good
resource can be found at
(http://library.wheaton.edu/
Students will be assigned partners and given a specific one of Thoreau’s journal entries to
read. They will focus on its content and its style—including tone and voice. Once students have
had time to read the entry, and look at others on the site, as a class we will go around and listen to
the range of topics Thoreau wrote about in his journal. Students will also share their thoughts on
Thoreau’s writing style in the entry.

Activity 2
Activity 1
Homework:
After school set aside 20-30 minutes to sit in nature. Choose a place in your
neighborhood, at a local park, or even in the conservation land near the high school. During this
time, you should observe nature, keeping in mind all the points we have discussed about
observation. In you journal, write two brief entries. The first entry should be the experience written
in a “Thoreauvian” way! Try to capture his tone and voice. Next, write the entry in your own voice.

Lesson 6
Materials: Poem “Thoreau’s Nightmare (A Year of Poems and Lessons by Nancy Atwell), access to the
Internet, excerpts from “the Conclusion” (Attachment H), quotes for analysis (attachment I).
(20 mins) Students will each receive a copy of the poem “Thoreau’s Nightmare”
(available in Nancy Atwell’s book A Year of Poems and Lessons). One student will read it aloud and
then students will be given time to annotate. As a class we will discuss any questions about terms or
vocabulary. I will read the poem through one more time, and we will discuss it as a class. Students
will discuss the poem’s meaning, themes, metaphors, similes, meter, and other literary devices.

Also collect journals to read last night’s homework.

Opening Activity
Activity #1
Activity #1: (45 mins) Read the excerpt in the anthology from “the Conclusion.” Because there are
so many important and meaningful passages here to consider, we will read it through once and then
return to complete a close reading.
We will discuss the passage holistically and then groups will
begin to examine passages in isolation. Each group will be given a passage to look at closely
(Attachment I). They will annotate, commenting on specific words and phrases. They should
discuss Thoreau’s ideas and be able to explain them to the class. I will rotate around and work with
each group to ensure an accurate understanding. Once completed, students will present their
passage and discuss their ideas. I will follow up with additional comments.
Final Assessment Project
Students should choose one passage they particularly liked from the section we read of
“the Conclusion.” They will use this passage and create a collage with pictures that represent the
ideas in the passage—the emphasis should be on symbolic images. The collage must be
accompanied by a 1-2 page description of the collage and analysis of the passage.




OR
Choice 1
Choice 2
Students have the option of creating a CD for Thoreau. They must create a playlist of at least five
songs that contain lyrics and ideas similar to those “in Conclusion.” The student must print out the
lyrics and annotate them to fully explain the connection. The songs should be burned to a CD and
it should contain a creative cover that Thoreau would appreciate. The student must be able to
explain—and justify—why Thoreau would appreciate this cover.
Students have three days to complete the assignment.
Students will type up the list we compiled as a class (this will serve as a good
review) and print out a copy to keep in their folder. Additionally, students must complete the
following journal prompt: What do you consider to be essential in your life? In other words, what would you say you need on a daily basis to survive? Indicate each item and explain why it is
necessary for your survival. Come to class prepared to defend your choices.
Tomorrow: Keep an hour by hour detailed journal of your day. Be sure to jot down all of
the important responsibilities you have to attend to over the course of a day. You should even be
tracking things like eating, emails, texting, internet use, watching t.v., sports, activities, work

Homework
Session 1: Introduction of basic characteristics of the Transcendentalist Movement
Quick Write #1
Write a thoughtful response of at least 5 sentences to this on your own paper.
Major Tenets of Transcendentalism
Nature= God
We should live close to nature, for it is our greatest teacher. Nature is emblematic, and understanding its "language" and "lessons" can bring us closer to God. In fact, Nature=God. The words Nature, God, Universe, Over-Soul, etc. all mean the same thing. This is what Hindus believe. They call is Brahma. Brahma, or God, is everything, but nothing in particular.
Major Tenets of Transcendentalism
Quick Write #2
God is Omnipresent
God is everywhere and in everything, so there is no need for specific religions or churches. The Transcendentalists did not believe in organized religion because they wanted that direct relationship with God, not one through a pastor or priest. They thought organized religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.,) were all just made up by people anyway.
Write a thoughtful response of at least 5 sentences to this on your own paper.
Major Tenets of Transcendentalism
Major Tenets of Transcendentalism
Major Tenets of Transcendentalism
Major Tenets of Transcendentalism
Major Tenets of Transcendentalism
Major Tenets of Transcendentalism
Major Tenets of Transcendentalism
Major Tenets of Transcendentalism
Quick Write #3
Quick Write #6
Quick Write #4
Quick Write #7
Quick Write #8
Man is Divine
Since Nature is divine, and we are literally creatures of Nature, we are also divine. Therefore, we have a direct relationship with God. In a sense, we are God or particles of God.
On your own sheet of paper, respond to this tenet with thoughtful, complete sentences. 5 minimum.
Self-Reliance
Quick Write #5
Our intuition and natural instincts guide up to do the right things. In nature, we are uncorrupted. It is only when we let society influence us that we start to conform and hence, be corrupted.
Do you agree or disagree? Give 2 examples either from your own experiences or from real-life to support your stand.
On your own sheet of paper, respond to this tenet with thoughtful, complete sentences. 5 minimum.
Intuition
Since God is within us, every person possesses "intuition" - an essential understanding of right and wrong (morality). We don't need to lean morality from so-called holy books, laws, or society.
Do you believe that humans are inherently bad or inherently good?
Give 2 detailed examples to support your thoughts.
Thoughtful, complete sentences - 5 minimum.
Society is the source of corruption
We are born pure, but society misguides us and corrupts us as we grow old. Society demands conformity, and

If we are able to follow our free will and listen to our intuition, we would be much better off. We don't need artificial laws, customs, fashions, or values.
conformity kills individuality.
Give an example from your own life that supports this idea.
5 thoughtful, complete sentences minimum. Thanks!
Idealism
Human beings are naturally good at their core. Again, it is society that corrupts us. Human beings left to their own devices are good.
Now, think about war, capitalism, or perhaps reality television: How can the Transcendentalist belief that "all human beings are good" possibly relate to these real-world examples of human nature?
Support your ideas with thoughtful examples - 5 sentences minimum.
Materialism is bad
Striving for material goods is a worthless and unhealthy pursuit. It is totally superficial. because it causes us to place artificial and false value on objects and people.
Money is evil
What was the last important thing you bought for yourself? Did how much it cost make it more valuable to you? Did that make you want it more or less? Would you consider yourself a
material girl
or
boy
? Why or why not? Explain.
5 thoughtful, complete sentences, pretty please.
Quick Write #9
Technology is bad
Advances in technology only caused more problems for society. For example, we built the railroad so we could go, go, go. First of all, we should stay ome and get in touch with ourselves. Secondly, now we need people to build the track and make the cars and drive the train and maintain everything. Technology ends up running us and not the other way around.
Yeah, or nah? What is the longest you could go without technology (honestly)? What does that say about you? Is technology running us? Explain your thoughts.
5 juicy sentences, stat.
Quick
Write#10

Emphasis on the here and now
The past is unimportant. Knowledge comes from experience. It is not derived from studying the past. We can't learn anything truly valuable from the past or from the people who lived before us. Their knowledge was based on their experience, and ours should be too. We should not worship anybody or anything that has come before us.
So, whatcha' think?
Trash or wisdom? Give three good examples of what you think.
This is the last one, so make it "bib-worthy!"
Students will:
Living close to nature means what exactly to you? What "lessons" can we learn from nature?
Q. Man is obligated to preserve


His hair
His wealth
His 18-year-old ripped body
Nature
1#
2#
Q. Thoreau wrote from a


Tent
Cabin
Treehouse
Raft

3#
Q. This book is structured along the change in


Seasons
Wildlife
Fish
People
4#
5#
Q. Thoreau was arrested for refusal to


Wear clothes
Pay taxes
Go to school
Support the New England Patriots
Q. Which is not explored by Thoreau?


White Pond
Eagle River
Flint's Pond
Baker Farm

QUICK QUIZ
Part 3
Opening Activity

Begin with the line, “Still we live meanly like ants…”

End with “We do not ride on the railroad, it rides on us…” (See Attachment B)
Activity 1#
Read from “Where I Lived and What I Lived For” focusing on Thoreau’s ideas about simplicity.
http://www.rowdykittens.com/2010/11/home/
From Large to Little...
My Tiny House Saga
Your 100 Things
Using *Tammy Strobel for inspiration, make your own list of the 100 items you would need to live comfortably. Given that we all probably use many more than 100 items each day, this exercise will help you discover how you could maybe simplify some aspects of your life (as Thoreau would have encouraged us to do!)

Create a new item in GoogleDocs--you can decide if you want to make it a document, presentation, or spreadsheet. (It's up to you.) Then, please share it with me (through your sharing settings.) Number your list so it's easy to keep track, though you don't need to list them in order of importance. You can receive full points for finishing this assignment to completion; I won't judge your choices/priorities. :)

It might be helpful to picture an apartment or dorm room (or the Strobels' tiny house.) What would you need to survive? Remember--toothbrush, shampoo, deodorant...each of these counts as 1 item! And don't list something in plural--like "plates". If you need 4 plates, that would count as 4 of your 100 items. (Same with clothing.) You do not need to count food or beverages, however.


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/business/08consume.html?adxnnlx=1322848846-4WFDlUvBzjBYTRFfgsEtog&pagewanted=all
Link to NY Times article
"But Will It Make You Happy?"
Choice 3
Modern-Day Transcendentalist Essay

Please type in GoogleDocs and share it with me in your 'share settings.'
Final Draft Due: 3:33 p.m., Fri. Feb. 3
This five-paragraph writing assignment will ask you to explore the tenets of 19th-century transcendentalism and then apply, or attempt to apply, those tenets to *your own life. (See asterisk below for more information about an alternate essay topic.)

Your essay will consist of an introductory paragraph with an attention-getting technique (recall ones on Mr. Westerman’s handout) that narrows down to your thesis statement, three body paragraphs written in SEE Definition/Clarification format, and a concluding paragraph that answers definitively whether you are or are not a modern-day transcendentalist.

As part of your pre-writing, review the tenets of transcendentalism: individualism, non-conformity, self-reliance, civil disobedience, simplicity, the importance of nature, intuition, and learning by experience.

Now, choose three that you think you are already doing, could easily do, or that you flatly disagree with. These three tenets will become the topics of your three body paragraphs. You need to use a different tenet for each body paragraph.

Read my sample paragraph in the opposite column. You might notice that I took some creative liberties with By definition, For example, and As a result. You may too. Those words are just guides for you and the reader. They should not make your paragraph more awkward. See the printed list (in the folder at the back of the room) for more help with this.

You might also notice that the definition I provided is my own. Based on what we've read and talked about, you can provide your own definitions for the various tenets as well. Yours may not match someone else's exactly. Just be sure to stay true to what you think the original transcendentalists meant. I wouldn’t ‘overthink’ your definition and/or bother looking up the terms online. Use your brain and your notes instead.

If you think you are not a modern-day transcendentalist, your paragraphs will look a little different. You will be disagreeing with the concept and actually showing how you live counter to it. If you are not currently practicing a tenet, but think you could do so easily, your paragraph will focus on the ways you could easily incorporate that tenet into your life.

Specificity is completely necessary in this paper. To simply write that you are a non-conformist by “doing your own thing” will not be enough. You need to provide specific examples of real instances in your life when you have shown non-conformity. Be very detailed in all paragraphs. The use of first-person “I” is completely acceptable and expected in this essay, but avoid phrases such as “I think,” “I feel,” “I believe.”

Rubric for Grading:

Ideas, Organization (adherence to SEE format), Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions (15 points each) + Productive Use of In-Class Work Time (10 points) = 100



*Interesting and fun alternative topic for the essay: Rather than focusing on your own life, argue whether or not Chris McCandless was a modern-day transcendentalist. All body paragraphs would still be SEE Definition-Clarification and much of what's written above would still apply. For this topic, however, you WOULD need to include a Works Cited page and would need to cite research/evidence from either "Death of an Innocent" (the article we read in class) or Into the Wild (which you could borrow from my shelf) or both. Feel free to watch the film on you own, also, if you think it would be helpful.











Note: I am happy to provide you with this sample paragraph, but this is ONLY a sample. Please do not let a close copy of this find its way into your essay.

I could be considered a modern-day transcendentalist because I practice simplicity with my wardrobe. By Thoreau’s 19th-century definition, simplicity means only having as much as one needs. I choose to practice simplicity, for example, when I regularly weed my closet of items that no longer fit or are out of fashion. I like to take those weeded clothing items (sometimes including shoes, accessories, and handbags) to the Goodwill, which I believe is also philanthropic and environmentally-friendly. Additionally, I learned while I was pregnant that I really don’t need as many clothes as I had previously thought; I just need a few comfortable, versatile items that can be mixed and matched to create lots of different outfits. I have now tried to apply that principle to my post-maternity garb. As a result of practicing simplicity in my wardrobe, I now have much more space in my closet to store things like luggage that previously had to be stored elsewhere.
Death of an innocent by John Kraukaur
http://chugachpics.tripod.com/mccandless.html
A Look in to Transcendentalism




NOW: Chose a presenter: tell us what your group discussed.





From 1840-1855, literature in America experienced a rebirth called the New England Renaissance. Through their poetry, short stories, novels, and other works, writers during this period established a clear American voice. No longer did they see their work as less influential than that of European authors. Transcendentalism was a part of this "flowering" of American literature. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were important voices in this philosophical movement that sought to have individuals "transcend" to a higher spiritual level. To achieve this goal, the individual had to seek spiritual, not material, greatness and the essential truths of life through intuition.
Emerson was the philosopher and teacher.
Thoreau was the student and the practitioner.
Activity 1


1. How are you affected by nature? Do you find comfort in it? Do you reflect the moods of nature?

2. What is the role of nature in your life?

3. What is meant by an individual's spiritual side? How to you define it?

4. Is there a connection between the individual's spirit and nature? If so, what is that connection?

5. What does it mean to know something intuitively? For example, has a parent or a sibling ever known something was wrong with you without having talked with or seen you? What do we mean when we say "I just know it"?

6. How do you demonstrate that you are an individual?

7. Do you think independently of others or do you follow the crowd?
In small groups discuss the concepts of transcendentalism by considering the following questions.

Please record your answers on your group chart paper:
When done: we will post group responses.
What are the similarities between the findings?
SO: We need to establish a shared, class definition of transcendentalism.

We will post on the board to refer to in following sessions.
Read this:
Read this:
Thoreau was the student and the practitioner.
From 1840-1855, literature in America experienced a rebirth called the New England Renaissance. Through their poetry, short stories, novels, and other works, writers during this period established a clear American voice. No longer did they see their work as less influential than that of European authors.

Transcendentalism was a part of this "flowering" of American literature. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were important voices in this philosophical movement that sought to have individuals "transcend" to a higher spiritual level. To achieve this goal, the individual had to seek spiritual, not material, greatness and the essential truths of life through intuition.

Emerson was the philosopher and teacher.

Thoreau was the student and the practitioner.
Introduction and Background
1. How are you affected by nature? Do you find comfort in it? Do you reflect the moods of nature?

2. What is the role of nature in your life?

3. What is meant by an individual's spiritual side? How to you define it?
4. Is there a connection between the individual's spirit and nature? If so, what is that connection?
5. What does it mean to know something intuitively? For example, has a parent or a sibling ever known something was wrong with you without having talked with or seen you? What do we mean when we say "I just know it"?
6. How do you demonstrate that you are an individual? Do you think independently of others or do you follow the crowd?
In small groups, please consider the following questions and record your answers on chart paper, we'll post and discuss.
1. A person from each group will share what they recorded.

2. Students collect and note similarities among the findings.

3. By the end of the session, we should have established a shared,
class definition of transcendentalism.

4. Post this definition on the board for students to refer to in following sessions.

1. Read and discuss the excerpt from Emerson's "Nature".

2. Answer these questions to guide your exploration of the text.

Questions a-d establish basic details.
Questions e-f require more abstract thinking.











Identify key quotations from the excerpt that reveal Emerson's thinking about the relationship between humans and nature and to record their observations as "Journal #2."

Explain the relationship between the quotations you've chosen and the basic characteristics of transcendentalism, as identified in the previous session.

3. Everyone will identify a quotation and share their quotation and ideas with the class.

Session 2

A. What different moods does Emerson note in the excerpt?

B. How is nature connected to these moods?

C. What effect does nature have on Emerson? What does he mean when he says "I become a transparent eyeball"?

D. In what ways does Emerson connect nature, humankind, and God?

E. In what way does Nature serve as a teacher?

F. How is nature portrayed as noble? As a source of comfort?

G. How are human beings represented as part of nature?

H. What can human beings learn from nature? How does this learning affect the individual's spirituality?

Session 3

Return to the ideas gathered in the previous sessions and summarize what you've discovered about transcendentalism to this point.
Introduce Emerson's essay "Self-Reliance" as another text that demonstrates transcendental thought.
Read and discuss the excerpt you've chosen from Emerson's "Self-Reliance" with the students, using the following questions to guide your exploration of the text. You may wish to post these questions for students to refer to during your discussion.
What does Emerson mean when he says that "envy is ignorance and imitation is suicide"?
What does he want each individual to recognize about him/herself? What does he say about "power" and "work"?
How is trust a part of being self-reliant?
Why does Emerson see society as the enemy of individuality?
What is the role of nonconformity? What did that word mean to Emerson?
What is a "foolish consistency"? How does it get in the way of genius?
Ask students to identify the key elements of self-reliance as defined by Emerson in their readings. These elements should be generated by the responses to the questions.
To summarize the characteristics of transcendental thought covered so far in the lesson, have students fill in the Examples of Transcendental Thought interactive or handout. If time is short, this work can be completed as homework.
Collect and review the graphic organizer to check students' understanding to this point.

Session 4
Session 5

Return to students' observations on the Examples of Transcendental Thought interactive or handout. Invite students to share their findings and answer any questions about transcendentalism that they have at this point.
Read the excerpts from Thoreau's Walden.
Ask students to identify how Thoreau is practicing the philosophy Emerson writes about in the excerpts read previously. Students can use the information that they have recorded on the Examples of Transcendental Thought interactive or handout as a resource at this point.
Explain the historical connection between the two writers: Emerson as teacher and Thoreau as practitioner.
If desired, students can complete the Examples of Transcendental Thought interactive or copies of the handout again, this time recording examples from Thoreau's writings as a class, in small groups, or individually.
Ask students to go back to the questions they answered in Session One, and have them revise their responses based on what they have learned so far about Transcendentalism.
By the end of the session, you should have revised and clarified your class definition of transcendentalism (post/repost this new definition). Students should have a good working knowledge of the characteristics of transcendentalism before moving on to the next session.


xplain that during the next few sessions, you'll look for examples of transcendental thought in popular culture. In particular, you'll be looking at comic strips and songs, but encourage students to share examples that they find in other media as well (e.g., sitcoms, television dramas, children's cartoons, movies, commercials).
Divide students into small groups, and provide each group with copies of several comic strips that reflect the transcendental qualities discussed to this point (see the article "Multigenre, Multiple Intelligences, and Transcendentalism" for examples and ideas). Ideally, if you have published collections of comic strips available, each group can search a book.
Ask the students to read the strips paying close attention to both the text and the drawings with the goal of identifying the literary elements of transcendentalism.
Review the characteristics of transcendentalism from previous sessions.
Give the groups 15 to 20 minutes to read and enjoy the comics, asking them to find connections to the concepts you've discussed regarding transcendentalism. In their groups, ask students to record their findings using the Examples of Transcendental Thought interactive or copies of the handout.
After the allotted reading time, each group can share at least two comics that they've identified that have strong literary connections to the ideas of Emerson and Thoreau. As students share the comic strips, encourage them to discuss specific lines from the texts that you've studied that can be connected to the comics.
As a homework assignment, students can locate other examples of comics that would provide literary links to what you've studied and bring those comics to class along with a paragraph of explanation. If desired, you could extend the lesson by inviting students to find examples in any media (e.g., sitcoms, television dramas, commercials) rather than limiting them to finding comic strips. Any connection to the ideas of transcendentalism is valid evidence of students' understanding of the concept—no need to limit their exploration to comics!
Session 6

Spend the first 15–20 minutes of the session inviting students to share the examples that they found. Encourage students to connect the examples they've found to the examples from previous sessions.
Explain that during this session you'll begin looking for examples of transcendentalism in songs. If one of your students has shared an example song for the homework, be sure to point to that song as an example of the kind of resources you'll be looking for during the next sessions.
Play the example song that you've chosen for students. Provide copies of the lyrics if possible.
Ask students to listen carefully and follow along with the lyrics while the song is playing. If students have copies of the lyrics, they can underline or highlight the relevant lyrics. Otherwise, ask students to write any words they hear that suggest the ideas of transcendentalism in their journals.
After the song has finished playing, ask students to share their observations. Encourage students to make connections to the readings and the comic strips, as appropriate.
For a more structured analysis, you can work as a class to complete the Examples of Transcendental Thought interactive using an LCD project or to complete an overhead of the handout.
Once you've explored the lyrics for an example song, explain the project that students will complete. Ask students to consider their own favorite songs and to bring a song to class—along with the lyrics and a brief paragraph of explanation of the connection between their choice and the ideas you've been exploring. Ideally, you should have some CDs or MP3s available in the classroom for students to choose from as well. If your library has music resources, be sure to point students to these collections as well. Be sure to provide enough options that students will be able to find a song to share regardless of the resources they may own personally.
Remind students of the any school guidelines regarding violent or explicit lyrics. Students should choose songs that are appropriate to share with the class.
If your school's guidelines allow, you might invite students to bring personal CD players to the next class session to facilitate sharing the songs.

Session 7

Play portions of songs expressing transcendental thought between classes and for the first few minutes of the period. Post chart paper around the room, listing musical genres—oldies/classics, pop/rock, R&B/rap, new age/classical, country. You may want to adjust the categories based on the kinds of music students show an interest in. For instance, you might separate R&B and rap if there are many songs in the two categories that students have brought to share.
Invite students to discuss the reasons that the songs fit the characteristics of transcendental thought while the songs are playing.
Take a few minutes for students to share some of the titles that they identified.
Divide students into four to five small groups. Each group should have a CD player/MP3 player available so that students can play the songs that they've brought to class. If your facilities allow, spread groups out.
Allow students the remainder of the class to explore the songs they've found.
Taking turns, students from each group can add the artist and title for songs that they've identified to the chart paper in the room.
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