Category Archives: Taking the Lead: Freedom & Responsibility

Taking the Lead: Freedom & Responsibility

 

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 “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” by Thoreau

Thoreau, Henry David. “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.” Civil Disobedience and Other Essays. Dover Thrift ed.: Dover Publications, 1993. 1-20. Print.

“On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” is a classic non-fiction essay that rebutes against the laws of the American government during the Mexican- American War. This essay questions the power of the United States government and promotes an individuals personal, and moral, outlook on societal issues. He compares and contrasts the ideas, and terms, civil and disobedience in order to support his argument. Section one raises the question, should a government exist? Thoreau answers this question while illustrating the advantages and disadvantages of the government in the United States. In section two, he explains the U.S. citizens’ response to laws and the government system. He supports his main points by defining freedom and moral principles. His essential question is targeted to the individual’s understanding of disobedience and perception of laws.  Section three focuses on Thoreau’s personal experience with civil disobedience. His argument is focused on how the individual perceives his or her view and the idea of an individual conforming to the government’s beliefs.

According to Lexile, the age of reading level is ages 12- 18.

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While reading “On Civil Disobedience,” students should complete a concept map for each section of the essay. Thoreau uses many terms to support his arguments and the students should understand his definition for each term. The concept map allows students to reflect while reading and map out the key terms used. The key terms should be pulled directly out of the text in quotations and rephrased in the students’ own words. Below, is a link to the concept map reading strategy from adlit.org.

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“The Things They Carried” by O’Brien

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O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. Print.

In the short story, “The Things They Carried,” Jimmy Cross, the protagonist, leaves behind the love of his life and enters into the Vietnam War as a young man. He brings along objects that remind him of his true love and each object is symbolic of his emotional states. As young man, he is burdened by responsibility. He is fighting for freedom, but his freedom as a young man is taken from him as he enters the Vietnam War.

 

In regards to the theme of freedom and responsibility, students should be given the opportunity to reflect on their personal responses to “The Things They Carried.” For students to comprehend the text and provide a personal reflection, a double-entry journal is necessary while reading.  Adlit.org states the double-entry journal is an “… interactive strategy activates prior knowledge and present feelings, and promotes collaborative learning.” Below, are the AdLit guidelines for this reading strategy.

1. Students fold a piece of paper in half, lengthwise.
2. In the left hand column, the students write a phrase or sentence from the selection that was particularly meaningful to them, along with the page number.
3. In the right hand column, the students react to the passage by writing personal responses to the quotes on the left. The entry may include a comment, a question, a connection made, or an analysis.
4. Students can share their responses with the class or literature discussion group.

Essential Questions for the double-entry journal:

1. Describe Jimmy’s burdens and emotions.

2. Explain what caused Jimmy to feel burdened or restricted as an individual.

2. Analyze Jimmy as a young man. How does his youth conflict with his responsibilities as a soldier?

Idea for an Assessment of “The Things They Carried” and “On Civil Disobedience.”

After reading both texts, students should reflect on their personal experience with freedom and responsibility as an adolescent  student in the United States. They should use format of a persuasive essay or write a short story to present to the class. The presentation should be delivered to the class as a speech.

Guidelines for the presentation:

1. Follow the non-fiction essay or creative non-fiction story format.

2. Define yourself as an adolescent student in America.

3. Articulate an argument that supports or rebuts the U.S. government’s support system for adolescent learners.

4. Identify the advantages and disadvantages of the American government.

5. Use key terms and main points in your argument.

6. Provide examples from your personal experience.

The NCTE Standards for ELA:

Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

 

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