Reflection: Real World Applications Film Interpretations of "The Raven" & Introducing Transcendental "Vision" - Section 4: Application


While I have taught American Literature for six years prior to this, I only discovered the work of Daniel Simons last year.  Luckily, it was right around the time I was teaching this unit, so when I played some videos about perception for students, I was immediately struck by the impact it had on them.  In years prior, I have struggled to get students to read the work of Emerson and Thoreau without chuckling to each other and asking if they "these guys" were on drugs.  Obviously, that's not the conversation I want to be having with these students about such exemplary critical thinkers.  After we viewed the videos last year before we read the Emerson text, my students were much more willing to consider his ideas as different and unique, rather than drug-induced.  I knew after this response that I had to work this into my curriculum this year.

One thing about students, especially high school students, that I think is critical to consider when planning any lesson is that they always think they are right and all-knowing.  (I recognize that this concept is not mind-blowing, but it's worth stating so that we approach teaching them as skeptics who we can convince to make the choice to learn, rather than as sponges, ready to suck up information.)  Thinking back to my own history with school, I know that I always felt confident in my knowledge of academics and the world.  This confidence is critical to growth, but it can also inhibit the desire to learn more, which spells disaster as a student.  The best ways to motivate my former-self was to either make me want to pick apart the information being presented (to prove it wrong) or to expose my knowledge as imperfect or incomplete (to drive me to fill that "gap" and go back to being all-knowing).  I now shamelessly employ both of these strategies with my own students.  This set of videos in today's lesson manages to drive students to the shakier ground of uncertainty of the accuracy of their own perceptions.  Not 100% of students will get this feeling from the first video (which some students in my class had seen before), but by the end of the series, EVERY student has been stumped by at least ONE video.  Most spend the entire 10-minute span of time missing the most obvious of obvious things, which makes them more willing to acknowledge their own short-comings in perception and to connect with the upcoming Emerson and Thoreau texts.  Once they establish this openness to the ideas being presented and have a real-life framework to understand it in their own lives, it makes lessons run much more smoothly and reading experiences much more relevant for students.

  Transforming Kids' Views on Transcendentalists with Daniel Simons
  Real World Applications: Transforming Kids' Views on Transcendentalists with Daniel Simons
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Film Interpretations of "The Raven" & Introducing Transcendental "Vision"

Unit 3: Romanticism & Transcendentalism
Lesson 7 of 8

Objective: SWBAT interpret film adaptations of "The Raven" and apply scientific elements to the Transcendentalists' distrust of their senses using videos from Dan Simon.

Big Idea: Watching video interpretations of a source text is a Common Core Standard? That sounds like a plan my students can get behind!!

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