9th - 12th

Students listen and scan for information and identify purpose in Transcendentalist writing. In this self-management lesson, students identify main and supporting details. Students evaluate whether or not the author achieved his purpose as they read Transcendentalist writings such as "Self-Reliance" by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Students create a personal mission statement and discuss their ideas of happiness. 

Resource Details

Instructional Design

Ralph Waldo Emerson and “Self-Reliance”

 "Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string." After reading Ralph Waldo Emerson’s "Self-Reliance" groups discuss and then individuals reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of being self-reliant. Included in the packet is a worksheet that helps groups identify the main ideas in each paragraph.

“Self Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” Readers not only identify aphorisms in Emerson's "Self Reliance," but also find evidence of transcendental elements contained in the essay. They also demonstrate consistency by crafting a summary of each paragraph of the piece. No little minds here.

What Is the Writing Process?

Use this packet to support a narrative writing assignment. The materials included in the packet center around a prompt for writing about a rite of passage. Each part of the writing process is described and demonstrated. After reading the information and model, pupils apply the each concept to their own essay. Since there is good amount of information included here, you could pick and choose the parts you wish to use, or hand out the whole packet and work through over the course of a week or two.

The Legacy of Emerson and Thoreau

Eleventh graders are introduced to Transcendentalism through the writing of Emerson and Thoreau. They keep a journal in which they respond to quotes and prompts. Students write longer essays on conformity, being alone and a "field trip" to the woods. They research an individual or movement influenced by the work on Thoreau and the beliefs of Transcendentalsim.

“Self Reliance” Questions

Is consistency foolish? Or is “foolish consistency . . . the hobgoblin of little minds”? Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self Reliance” provides readers with an opportunity to reflect on their own musing about being self-reliant and about trusting yourself. Although no connection is suggested to transcendental philosophy, individuals could be asked to identify these aspects in the essay.

Read and Infer: Emerson's "Self-Reliance"

The complete text of Ralph Waldo Emerson's manifesto "Self-Reliance" is accompanied by 9 excellent reflection questions. Encourage quadrant D-level thinking by challenging readers to infer, evaluate, and synthesize meaning from the text, and integrate it with the work of Henry David Thoreau. This is made for homeschoolers, but I'd use it in my classroom.

The American Puritan Tradition and Dilemma, Part III

To conclude a three-part unit that examines how different writers express their views on the American Puritan tradition, class members compare the views of Ralph Waldo Emerson as expressed in his essay on "Self-Reliance" with those presented in Jonathan Edwards' sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." To prepare for the concluding comparative essay, learners engage in a series of activities including explaining the transcendental concepts in several Emerson aphorisms, completing graphic organizer that contrasts transcendental and puritan beliefs, and researching the rhetorical devices the two writers employ.

Transcendentalists: Emerson and Thoreau

What would Thoreau tweet if Twitter had existed in the 1845? Would he even have a computer or a smart phone in his cabin? What does Emerson mean when he says, "I am a transparent eyeball"? Do you, would you live in an old, organic house? If the transcendentalists are part of your course of study, explore this packet of links to background information and ideas for activities. A great addition to your curriculum library.

Emerson's Essays Quiz

For this online interactive reading comprehension worksheet, students respond to 12 multiple choice questions about Emerson's EssaysStudents may submit their answers to be scored.

Thoreau, Emerson, and Transcendentalism

Tackle Transcendentalist literature with these questions. This resource provides 14 essay questions that cover different works by Thoreau and Emerson. Class members may also access an online quiz on the selection using the link at the bottom of the page. Since these questions cover a variety of works and topics, you might pick and choose what you would like to use for your class.

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