Monday, April 9, 2012

Explorations in "Nature"

The week of April 2-5th students in Mrs. Lanphear’s English III were studying American essayists Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and the American Transcendentalists of the 1850’s. Although the reading was difficult, students rose to the challenge. Mrs. Lanphear stated, “With great work comes great rewards,” and on Wednesday, April 4th students were allowed to temporarily leave campus with their instructor for a “nature hike.” The hike lasted approximately 35 minutes. After reaching their destination (the Chadron water tower across the street from the high school), students spread out across the front of the hill, nestled into their seats in nature, and worked silently and separately to complete their “sensory charts”—where they recorded the things they could see, smell, hear, taste, and touch.

The whole adventure was intended to help students connect with Emerson’s thoughts in his essay “Nature.” Once back in the classroom, students used their charts to write a descriptive paragraph chronicling their outdoor experience. The following class period students were required to write a second paragraph where they connected their nature experience to Emerson’s using MLA cited quotes from his text. When asked how Emerson’s belief “that the magnificent American landscape itself” could inspire new American perspectives (a reoccurring theme of this American Literature based class), students concluded that “Chadron looked small” from on top of the hill and that Emerson must have felt small in the natural world too. Finally, after the brief discussion, students headed to the computer lab to meet global and digital learning standards by sharing their ideas with one another on the classroom blog site “Blogging with Mrs. Lanphear.”