Introduction to Walden, Day Two

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Students will be able to close read for details by sketching Thoreau's cabin based on his description.

Big Idea

A cabin in the woods--visualizing Walden.

Do Now: Review

5 minutes

Because our introduction to Walden ended up separated by an extended winter break (snow days), students need to review the first page before we vote on the quality of the work they created in this lesson. I ask students to take the first 5 minutes of class to reread the page we visualized.

Visualization Voting

15 minutes

Review complete, I remind students that the challenge was to capture all the detail in the text; the quality of the art is not relevant (though appreciated for beauty's sake). Further, they need to review all options rather than simply vote for their own visualization or that of a friend; I will be watching closely as voting occurs to ensure fair play.

I ask students to line up at the board to view all visualizations and to vote by leaving a tally mark below their top choice for most detailed. They do so, remarking on the talents of some artists and the details that they themselves missed. A few students do try to run up and vote without looking, but I call them by name and remind them to consider all options. They return to the board, erase their first marks, and follow instructions. Finally, voting is complete:

Walden Read-Write-Share

25 minutes

Our voting and rereading of the first page helped remind us of the context of Walden, and now we are ready to continue reading. I ask students to open the text in a note-taking app on their iPads and to form our large circle for reading and discussion.

As usual, I read the next paragraph of the text, placing emphasis on key words. Then, students write for 3 minutes: summarize the paragraph and make a comment (question, opinion, connection, etc.). I circulate as students write to make sure everyone is on task and to answer questions, though today students have none (they are starting to feel more confident in their independent reading of the text).

Next, we discuss. Our class goal is to get 100% [volunteer] participation in discussion as students share their thoughts and questions; so far, the best we have done is 89%. I see students nudge one another into action, and we hear from new voices as we discuss what Thoreau wanted us to understand about "morning" and being "awake," not just in a physical sense but in a mental, emotional, and spiritual sense, too. I simply note who speaks to track participation and occasionally clarify what a student meant. Students do a nice job pulling words and phrases from the text as they discuss without my intervention; we're definitely making progress in our close reading and discussion skills.