Responding To Emerson: Understanding Point-Of-View

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SWBAT determine Emerson's purpose and analyze his use of rhetoric in writing "Self-Reliance" & "Nature" through writing a business letter in response to his work.

Big Idea

"Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding" (-Emerson), such as the understanding that comes from reacting to someone who has had an impact on you.

Introduction & Welcome: It's World Hello Day!

3 minutes

At the bell, I ask students to settle and welcome them to "World Hello Day!" In the spirit of the Transcendentalists, I encourage students to acknowledge the connections between people and say hello to someone new in the hall.

As always, Daily Holidays are part of the routine to build community and encourage the students to be part of the class. 

Responding to Belief: How To Write a Business Letter

45 minutes

In response to Emerson's "Nature" and "Self-Reliance," to analyze how Emerson uses rhetoric to advance that point of view, students are asked to draft, and then formally write, a business letter to the author (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6).

This letter requires students to adopt the persona of a character and react to Emerson's writing from that individual's point of view. Would he or she agree with Emerson's philosophy? What lessons would he or she take away? Would they react cynically or negatively to Emerson?

To demonstrate their own understating of point-of-view, students select an archetypal/stock character, such as a criminal, an athlete, a brain, a basket case, or a princess. Students are given a brief character sketch and asked to select the character they wish to write a response in the voice of. We read the character sketches together in class, and in order to ensure students have a grasp of each, I ask them to identify what characterization the descriptions give of each, as well as the connotation of the wording. 

Once we have previewed the characters, I direct students to the copy of Purdue's OWL "Writing The Basic Business Letter" and model I provided. 

In addition to providing students with an opportunity to react to Emerson's point of view, this assignment requires students to follow the norms and conventions of crafting a formal letter (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2e), a skill needed as they begin applying for colleges and jobs as they get closer to graduation. 

This time is used modeling the letter, answering questions from the students regarding format and content, and--if time allows--allowing students to begin drafting their letter. This video sums up the letter format process I demonstrated for the students, and gave them a chance to look back if needed: Formal Letter Directions.

Two-Minute Warning: Wrap-Up and Exit Slip

2 minutes

As a conclusion, I ask students to identify who they chose as the subject of their letter, and to write a one-sentence summary of the character's reactions to Emerson. This will ensure students have made a decision as to their character and characterization as they write the letter on their own. These serve as exit tickets from class today.