Reflection: Grappling with Complexity Tracking the Development of Central Ideas in "Self-Reliance," Day 2 of 2 - Section 5: Independent Work


I was very interested in seeing what students would be able to do on their own with the fourth paragraph. The fourth paragraph is very short and serves to add details about what it means to be a nonconformist. Specifically, it highlights the importance of thinking for one’s self and the need to ignore those who attempt to influence you or criticize you. For students to successfully work with this paragraph, they must understand these points and be able to say that this fourth paragraph adds details that help us understand what it means to be a nonconformist, the idea established in the previous paragraph. An astute student will be able to look ahead at the fifth paragraph and realize that this fourth paragraph will help the reader make sense of the following point, which is that living life in this way is difficult because “the world whips [nonconformists] with its displeasure.” Many of my students were not able to complete this assignment on their own. I actually had to make myself available after school to help them finish this. A few were able to capture part of this picture. This first student understands the idea established in the fourth paragraph stating, “always do what you want to,” but he was not able to establish the connection to the previous paragraphs. This second student was able to articulate a connection, though in a limited manner, simply stating “adds ignorance.” This third student provided a more elaborate explanation, capturing the idea established in this paragraph and using words and phrases like “adds,” and “they all relate” and “both have to do with.”

All in all, this is definitely a skill students need help with. The work produced is nowhere near what I hoped, but I do know that students had to think of the structure of Emerson’s argument as they struggled to get through this assignment and this is an important activity for students to engage in.

  Grappling with Complexity: Students Struggle To Complete This Task
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Tracking the Development of Central Ideas in "Self-Reliance," Day 2 of 2

Unit 13: Transcendentalism
Lesson 10 of 13

Objective: SWBAT gain more independence tracking the development of central ideas in Emerson's argument by working on part of a graphic organizer on their own.

Big Idea: The type of thinking required to struggle through a complex task is worth the time, even when the work product indicates otherwise.

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