Walden and Text Structure Practice, Day One

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Students will be able to analyze and evaluate text structure while reading Thoreau's Walden.

Big Idea

Problem: a meaningless life. Solution: find yourself [in the woods]. Analyzing and evaluating text structure in Walden.

Do Now: Review

5 minutes

To help students connect what we are going to read today to what we read from Walden already (thus helping them better understand), I ask them to review what we already know. What claims has Thoreau presented so far?

The first student I call on is able to give me a quick, accurate answer, "We need to be awake to how we want to live life, not how others want us to live." Others chime in with further detail, including how Thoreau isolated himself at Walden pond to live his own life with no pressure from others.

The content shared is exactly what students will need to know for today's reading, which builds on Thoreau's reason for going to Walden pond. We transition to our reading for the day.

Walden Read-Write-Share

30 minutes

Today, we start reading from Walden at, "I went to the woods..," me reading so students can benefit from my experienced emphasis and tone as they work to understand the text. As usual, we stop after each paragraph so students can form comprehension through writing a brief summary and comment (question, agreement, connection, quote analysis, etc.). We use these writings in discussion, first clarifying what the text said then discussing our comments.

We only cover 3 paragraphs total today so students do not become overwhelmed by the challenging text. Happily, our final paragraph is one which students connect to strongly. We have a heated discussion about simplicity in our lives--is it good or bad? Students first work together to define the word, determining that simplicity means living without excess material goods and without relationships which do not add to our lives (else why would Thoreau believe his life to be simple, they say; he has isolated himself and lives with few possessions). Some students believe simplicity helps people avoid stress, thus living a better life. Others believe simplicity could lead to boredom. They offer examples from their own lives as they debate. As for me, I am happy that they feel a connection to the text; it will make a greater impact on their minds this way, and isn't that what reading should be about?

Text Structure Practice

10 minutes

With text fresh in our minds, we are ready to apply skill work: analysis and evaluation of text structure. Since this is our first practice with grade-level reading, I only give students a single sentence to analyze, included in resources. Further, this is our first practice total with evaluation, so today, I will just be using the final question to see what they remember from the lecture, no grade attached.

Students work with partners to analyze the quote. I circulate to address questions, ranging from, "can this be more than one text structure" (yes), to "what are text structures" (oh boy...). I point students in the right direction (their notes) and continue on.

While we would ideally go over their responses immediately to cement learning, we're out of time. I collect their work for individual feedback:

I add the best responses for both analysis and evaluation to my PowerPoint with the quote; we'll look at them together in our next lesson.