Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Close Reading: Emerson on Education - Section 2: Interpreting Text Through Critical Questions

 

This was a really strong discussion.  Students did a nice job of writing questions based on passages from the text.  For example, one student asked what Emerson meant by saying that “nature loves analogies, but not repetitions.”  This provided a teaching moment to review “analogy.”  Interpreting this quote also led to understanding Emerson’s point that education should focus on the individual, which students readily related to standardized tests and standardized curriculum.  The nature of their questions was much like this one—defining terms used in shorter quotes that seem meaningful (such as the word “respect” in “respect the pupil” or “genius vs. drill” in thinking about curriculum and pedagogy). 

We also were able to look at Emerson’s use of pronouns, which was a good moment of scaffolding from the similar discussion in the Baldwin piece.  I think my perseverance with Baldwin paid off with their strong work with this piece.

Finally, I think having them write text-based questions of their own rather than answering questions from the textbook was probably a better way to go as they learn to interpret more complex texts of this nature.  I think the number of interpretive questions for the Baldwin piece that I assigned was too many, and students probably needed two days to complete it.  In the future, I will scaffold reading the complex texts better before having students tackle rhetorical analysis questions.

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  Staircase of Complexity: Strong Discussion
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Close Reading: Emerson on Education

Unit 4: Thematic Unit: Education
Lesson 14 of 18

Objective: SWBAT to determine the meaning of complex nineteenth century texts by asking questions and closely reading small passages of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Big Idea: Determining meaning of small chunks of text and connecting ideas can lead to deeper understanding of complex texts.

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