Thursday, October 01, 2009

Walden Unit Plan- Mrs. Baker

Walden Unit Plan: Mrs. Baker
Online Text:
Essential Unit Questions:
What are the major tenets of transcendentalism?
Why did Henry David Thoreau live at Walden Pond for two years?
How do the literary characters we’ve met this year fit into the transcendental school of thought?
What aspects of modern day society agree with transcendentalism? What aspects of modern day society are at odds with transcendentalism?
What views have you developed on the subjects of individualism, nature and passive resistance?

Due Date: Assignments:
___________ Walden Vocabulary Quiz 1
___________ Create a list of 12 items you would take if you were setting out to live with nature for a long period of time.
___________ THINK/PAIR/SHARE:
How are you affected by nature? Do you find comfort in it? Do you reflect the moods of nature?
What is the role of nature in your life?
What is meant by an individual’s spiritual side? How to you define it?
Is there a connection between the individual’s spirit and nature? If so, what is that connection?
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”?
How do you demonstrate that you are an individual? Do you think independently of others or do you follow the crowd?
­­___________ Introduction: Lecture by Virginia Commonwealth University Associate Professor Ann Woodlief
(Need Real Player)
Take notes on the main points of the lecture.
___________ Thoreau’s Bio:
In your notebooks, list 10 interesting things about Thoreau.
___________ Thoreau & Transendialistism & Walden Pond Background: Jill Kaufman Report NPR
In your notebooks:
What is an archetypal symbol?
What is the trick for reading Walden?
How did Walden become the “manifesto” of the environmentalist movement?
___________ Walden Vocabulary Quiz 2
___________ “Economy” By far the longest (and most difficult) section in the book, this chapter is essential to read, despite its difficulty, because it explains Thoreau's basic beliefs about how to live, and because he tells us the story of how he got started at Walden.
­___________ “Economy” Quote Assignment:

Look at the page from which your quote was taken. Read what comes before it and directly after it. Then determine what Thoreau is saying in your quote. If you are unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary, look it up. Write down your interpretation of the quote. Be as thorough as possible.
Now that you have “unpacked” the quote and know what Thoreau is saying, consider how what he says relates to you personally or to society today. Write down your thoughts.
Be prepared to share #1 and #2 with your classmates.

___________ “Where I Lived, What I Live For” Thoreau describes the setting of his cabin; then he reflects on the ideas of possession, work, wakeful living, and reality, all in relation to the purpose of his experiment.
In your notebooks:
Thoreau asserts that "we live meanly, like ants." What explanation does Thoreau give for this way of life? Why does he place so much emphasis on simplicity?
Thoreau complains that “Our life is frittered away by detail.” What does he mean? Can you relate to this perspective?

Thoreau advises us to "Simplify, simplify" What modern inventions, new in Thoreau's day, does he question the value of? What inventions new in your day would you question the value of?

___________ “Solitude” This chapter discusses the delights of being alone; solitude, Thoreau says, is his best companion.
In your notebooks:
Thoreau argues that solitude is not created by physical distance between people but by distance between their points of view. He also maintains that solitude in nature brings us closer to the source of all life – and thus to other people. In light of these beliefs, do you think the hours people today spend in front of televisions and computers serve to bring people together or to isolate them?

___________ “The Bean Field” This chapter is a discourse on farming, on using the land, on hearing the town's silly military displays from afar (with special reference to the Mexican War); but mainly it is about beans, their cultivation and care. "I was determined to know beans," he says (reversing the expression: "You don't know beans!)
In your notebooks:
What is the author’s main purpose in this selection?

___________ “Higher Laws” Thoreau comments on fishing, hunting, vegetarianism, and eating. He is exploring a tension between "an animal in us" and a "higher nature" which is pure and therefore at odds with "this slimy beastly life, eating and drinking."
In your notebooks:

What aspects of this section did you agree/ disagree with? Did you find this section enjoyable? Why or why not?
___________ “Conclusion” Thoreau sums up: he tells why he left the lake and what he gained from his experience there. He also has much to say about the individual and society (this chapter contains the famous "different drummer: statement), about living well, about finding the truth. And he ends with the wonderful story, one of his "wake up!" pitches, of "the strong and beautiful bug." We too can enjoy a "beautiful and winged life." But we have to be alert to the possibilities: "Only that day dawns to which we are awake."
In your notebooks:

What one statement in this selection generates the strongest response from you? Rewrite the excerpt and explicate your response.

­­­­­___________ “What would Thoreau do?” Handout
___________ Essayist Tom Schiff's reflections on Walden. From Weekend Edition, May 5, 2002.
In your notebooks, write a one paragraph response to Shiff’s piece. Be sure to consider Shiff’s tone.

___________ Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”

Print out Essay & Make marginal notations (i.e., ask questions, express surprise, disagree, elaborate, and/or note any moments of confusion).
Here is one way to structure marginal notations:
(1) Label what the author says in the left-hand margin:
· The introduction
· The issue or problem the author is writing about
· The author’s main arguments
· The author’s examples
· The conclusion

(2) In the right hand margin, write reactions to what the author is saying.

“Trust thyself: Every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine Providence has found for you…Great men have always done so and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age…Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist…To be great is to be misunderstood…”
Explain Emerson’s argument and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with his analysis. Support your position, providing reasons and examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.

____________ Civil Disobedience- Thoreau
*I’m not sure what we are going to do with this essay yet.
___________ BLOGGING ABOUT: Transcendentalism in Popular Culture:
What examples can you find in comics, music, movies, television shows, etc…?
*This assignment is ongoing. Please use the class blog to post examples at least twice throughout the unit. (20 Points)

_______________ CHOICE ASSIGNMENT (50 Points)
Please complete ONE of the following:
A Quiet Place Take a walk outdoors. Seek out an area with trees or some other natural setting. Sit quietly, and record in a journal what you see, hear, and smell. Then tell how this setting makes you feel. (Minimum of 3 pages)Simplify! Keep a three-column log for one day. In the left-hand column, note the time. In the middle column, describe your behavior and environment at that time. In the right-hand column, describe what if anything Thoreau might recommend you modify in your behavior or environment to keep it simple. (Minimum of 3 pages)
Your Personal Walden
If you choose, you may act like Henry David Thoreau and create your own "Walden" within the context of your own life. For this assignment, you will need to remove yourself from all of the following, as much as possible:
*other people
*electronic devices, including cell phones, IPods, video game systems, etc.
*electric devices, including TV, computer, hairdryers, curling irons, lights, etc.

You will spend a minimum of 8 hours alone reading, writing, and contemplating life. You must be AWAKE during these hours. This time may be split up; it doesn't all have to be consecutive hours.
You will write a minimum of three pages about your experience--what was it like to be removed from people and devices like this? What thoughts or ideas came to you about your life?


  1. i think this is a perfect connection
    What's wrong with the world, mama
    People livin' like they ain't got no mamas
    I think the whole world addicted to the drama
    Only attracted to things that'll bring you trauma
    Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism
    But we still got terrorists here livin'
    In the USA, the big CIA
    The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK
    But if you only have love for your own race
    Then you only leave space to discriminate
    And to discriminate only generates hate
    And when you hate then you're bound to get irate, yeah
    Madness is what you demonstrate
    And that's exactly how anger works and operates
    Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
    Take control of your mind and meditate
    Let your soul gravitate to the love, y'all, y'all

    People killin', people dyin'
    Children hurt and you hear them cryin'
    Can you practice what you preach
    And would you turn the other cheek

    Father, Father, Father help us
    Send some guidance from above
    'Cause people got me, got me questionin'
    Where is the love (Love)

    Where is the love (The love)
    Where is the love (The love)
    Where is the love
    The love, the love

    This song relates really well to the topic of transcendentalism because it’s all about the way we are living and what we look at as important. This song shows how “messed” up our country is and how we should stop focusing on the silly things and look within to find that love that needs to be shown. It almost makes it sound like you can do anything you want to or need to if you have love and show it as well.

    Emily Owen. P.3

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