Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Ralph Waldo Emerson – “Self-Reliance” – “The American Scholar” – “Nature”

Included in this unit:

- 17 Task cards for excerpts from “Self-Reliance” and “The American Scholar” with student answer sheet and answer key. Questions require close reading, analysis, and personal connection. This activity can be done with a partner or individually.

- Competition where teams try to see how well they know Emerson’s style by filling in missing words in an excerpt from “Nature.” They get 5 points for each correct answer. Nothing like a little competition to get students motivated to read!

- Writing a graduation speech as Emerson or a valedictorian using Emerson’s philosophy and his quotes. Assignment/rubric sheet included.

- Finding transcendentalism in pop culture by selecting a movie, book, or song where transcendentalism is present. Assignment sheet is included.

- Final test in 2 versions where the answers are scrambled. Students also annotate transcendental qualities in a poem by Emerson that they have not read already.

- Step-by-step instructions for each day.

Sample Test Questions:
_____ 5. What is the opposite of conformity according to Emerson?
A. ignorance B. self-reliance C. society D. determination

_____ 6. Which is NOT an idea expressed by Emerson in his writing?
A. If friends believe differently than you do, remain friends and tolerate differences.
B. Trust in your own integrity.
C. Explore goodness for yourself without depending on rules.
D. People only express themselves halfway. They are afraid to reveal themselves fully.

_____ 11. Which of these is NOT true of “Nature” by Emerson?
A. When it storms or rains, nature is showing her cruel side.
B. Wisdom is reflected in nature.
C. Nature is helpful in positive and negative times in a person’s life.
D. To truly appreciate nature, a person must look at it with the innocence of a child.

_____ 12. Which Emerson quote below does NOT deal with individuality?
A. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
B. “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”
C. “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”
D. “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.”


If you would like an ENTIRE semester of American literature lessons and activities at your fingertips, visit American Literature Full Semester for more stress-free planning!
Total Pages
26
Answer Key
Included with Rubric
Teaching Duration
1 Week

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Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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