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Walden Unit Plan:

Mrs. Baker

Online Text:
Essential Unit Questions:
1. What are the major tenets of transcendentalism?
2. Why did Henry David Thoreau live at Walden Pond for two years?
3. How do the literary characters weve met this year fit into the transcendental school
of thought?
4. What aspects of modern day society agree with transcendentalism? What aspects of
modern day society are at odds with transcendentalism?
5. What views have you developed on the subjects of individualism, nature and passive
Due Date:



Walden Vocabulary Quiz 1

nature for a

Create a list of 12 items you would take if you were setting out to live with
long period of time.



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 individuals spiritual side? How to you define it?

Is there a connection between the individuals 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
(Need Real Player)
Take notes on the main points of the lecture.

Thoreaus Bio:
In your notebooks, list 10 interesting things about Thoreau.


Thoreau & Transendialistism & Walden Pond Background: Jill Kaufman Report
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:

1. 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.
2. 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
3. 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 authors 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,


In your notebooks, write a one paragraph response to Shiffs piece. Be sure to

Shiffs tone.


Emersons Self-Reliance

Print out Essay & Make marginal notations (i.e., ask questions, express surprise,
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:


issue or problem the author is writing about
authors main arguments
authors examples

(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
has found for youGreat men have always done so and confided
themselves childlike to the
genius of their ageWhoso would be a man must
be a non-conformistTo be great is to be

Explain Emersons 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
*Im 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,


least twice

*This assignment is ongoing. Please use the class blog to post examples at
throughout the unit. (20 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)
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