Connecting with Thoreau

By Robin Vaupel, author of  My Contract With Henry

Journal Writing Activities for Middle School Students

Thoreau Reader: Home - Teaching Thoreau - Journal Writing

On Robin Vaupel's My Contract with Henry: "An eighth-grade project on Thoreauís experimental living at Walden Pond becomes a life-changing experience for a group of outsider students who become budding philosophers, environmental activists, and loyal friends. This memorable story spotlights the power of great ideas to transform young lives" - Edward T. Sullivan, Knoxville, Tennessee

Link to: Student Project Page
  • To acquaint students with the life of Henry David Thoreau and the significance of his writings
  • To introduce students to well-known quotations of Thoreau as a window to his literary works.
  • To structure journal writing activities that will engage students in thinking and writing activities that mimic those of Thoreau.
  • Activities:
  • Discovering Henry Thoreau
  • Finding Your Own Walden
  • Experimenting With Your Life
  • Spending Time With Yourself
  • Meeting the Future
  • Going Public With Your Journal
  • About journal writing...
  • Journal writing is a means of self-discovery.
  • To be authentic and unique, journal writing must be honest and specific.
  • Privacy is essential so students can freely tap into their inner lives and creativity.
  • Journal writing is private writing, and only becomes public writing at the authorís discretion.
  • Students should be encouraged to reread their work immediately because often new ideas present themselves.  Rereading entries aloud (privately or to a partner) can also stir new thoughts in the writerís mind.
  • Students will select entries to polish, edit, and share with classmates and to submit for teacher evaluation.
  • Public writing comprises the academic portion of the studentís journal.
  • Please Note: It is especially important that students keep up with their assignments, because they are cummulative, and the process does not work if you save everything for the last minute.

    Thoreau Reader: Home - Teaching Thoreau - Journal Writing