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Louisiana Voices Educator's Guide  
Getting Started With This Guide  
Study Guide Summary  
Outline of the Study Guides  
Study Unit I Defining Terms  
Study Unit II Fieldwork Basics  
Study Unit III Discovering the Obvious: Our Lives as "The Folk"  
Study Unit IV The State of Our Lives: Being a Louisiana Neighbor  
Study Unit V Oral Traditions--Swapping Stories  
Study Unit VI Louisiana's Musical Landscape  
Study Unit VII Material Culture-The Stuff of Life  
Study Unit VIII The Worlds of Work and Play  
Study Unit IX The Seasonal Round and Life Cycles  
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Educator's Guide Glossary  
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Educator's Opportunities For Professional Development  
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Unit III Outline

Introduction: Our Lives as "The Folk"

Lesson 1:The Child: Games and Play Today and Yesterday In Louisiana

Lesson 2: The School--School Culture Across Louisiana (this page)

Lesson 3: The Family--Louisiana Family Folklore

Lesson 3, Activity 1: Naming Traditions

Lesson 3, Activity 2: Family Pictures

Lesson 3, Activity 3: The Family--Louisiana Family Folklore

Unit III Resources




  Unit III
Discovering the Obvious: Our Lives as "The Folk"

Lesson 2 The School: School Culture Across Louisiana


I went to school at St. Andrews [Baptist Church]. After that--well before that, the preacher and his wife was living in the quarters and she was teaching us. Her name was Sarah Brown. Her husband was our pastor, and she was our teacher. . . . When the time was up we'd go in the fields, the school was closed then. I'm surprised if kids were learning anything then, I'm telling you the truth. And when it was time to pick cotton, you stopped. There was no more school then. When we could go, we were there. But when the time came, we had to hoe that cotton. I remember my little brother was a baby, Mama had to go, and I had to go home and nurse the baby and go to the field. I remember that.

--Lizzie Johnson, Natchitoches Parish

Grade Level


Curriculum Areas

English Language Arts, Social Studies


Purpose of Lesson

Students identify and research school customs and folk groups through discussion and interviews. They learn that traditional culture exists within other cultural contexts, such as the academic world of school, and in combination with popular culture. They investigate the name, history, and stories of their school and others' school traditions.


Lesson Objectives/Louisiana Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Foundation Skills

1. Students identify various folk groups within the school community.

H-1D-M6 Examining folklore and describing how cultural elements have shaped our state and local heritage. (1, 3, 4)

G-1C-E4 Identifying and comparing the cultural characteristics of different regions and people. (1, 2, 3, 4)

2. Students research and compare school traditions and customs today and in the past.

H-1A-M1 Describing chronological relationships and patterns. (1, 3, 4)

H-1B-E1 Describing and comparing family life in the present and the past. (1, 2, 3, 4)

H-1B-E2 Relating the history of the local community and comparing it to other communities of long ago. (1, 2, 3, 4)

G-1A-E3 Constructing maps, graphs, charts, and diagrams to describe geographical information and to solve problems. (1, 3, 4)

3. Students explore how folk traditions exist within an academic (or elite) cultural setting such as school and in combination with popular culture.

G-1B-M4 Describing and explaining how personal interests, culture, and technology affect people's perceptions and uses of places and regions. (1, 2, 3, 4)

ELA-1-E6 Interpreting texts to generate connections to real-life situations. (1, 2, 4)

4. Students use interviews and primary source research to study local school history and traditions.

ELA-7-E2 Problem solving by using reasoning skills, life experiences, and available information. (1, 2, 4)

ELA-7-M3 Analyzing the effects of an author's purpose and point of view. (1, 2, 4)


Time Required

2-5 class periods



If your students will be doing fieldwork, you may need digital cameras, audio recorders, or video recorders in addition to notepads and pencils as well as appropriate fieldwork forms. Print out and duplicate any worksheets or rubrics that you will be using.


Technology Connections

Internet Resources

John and Ruby Lomax Collection, American Memory Project

Next Generation, Montana Heritage Project

Hallway of Memories, Montana Heritage Project

Our School, Montana Heritage Project

Student Worksheets

School Customs Worksheet

Assessment Tools

Rubric for Portfolio Exhibits

Rubric for Portfolios

Rubric for Research Papers


Evaluation Tools/Opportunities


1. Timelines
2. Portfolios
3. Rubric for Research Papers


1. Rubric for Portfolios
2. Rubric for Research Papers


1. Timelines
2. Portfolios
3. Drawings, murals
4. Research papers, presentations, or slide shows
5. Databases and spreadsheets


Background Information for the Teacher

A complex of unofficial rules and traditions overlays official school rules and practices. Perhaps Friday is free reading day in one class or extra recess in another. A couple of Louisiana examples focus on local culture. The start of squirrel hunting season in one parish means no school because of "budget day." Another parish closes school for the Stock Day parade.

In every class in every school, students and teachers create different communities with different customs, from classroom and teacher lounge decoration to student behavior with substitute teachers. The custom of attending Friday night high school football games still draws people from whole communities in parts of the state, as do beauty pageants, talent nights, and step shows. Researching school names, histories, and traditions can lead to a new understanding of a school's importance to a community, folk groups and traditions within an academic setting, and some of the functions of folklore (it's fun, it teaches something, it defines cultural borders, it releases cultural tension).


To Prepare

Have a couple of school traditions in mind to start students' brainstorming. Describe some school traditions from your own school days. For Step 3, review Unit II.

Choose one or several of these assessment tools/opportunities to use with students during this lesson, and prepare the required materials:

Portfolios - list of games, interviews of adults, graphs, worksheets, oral and written reports, artwork, cooperative group presentations, online research, etc. Print and duplicate the Rubric for Portfolios and use to assess the quality of students' portfolios.

Plan for students to arrange displays of their portfolios. Print and duplicate the Rubric for Portfolio Exhibits and distribute to students before beginning the lesson. Instruct students to refer to the Performance Indicators while planning their exhibits.

Print the Rubric for Research Papers and assign students to work in pairs to assess first each others research paper, then their own.


4th Grade Activities

1. Brainstorm school customs and traditions with students. Some may be specific to your class; others may be school-wide. Share customs from your own school days. Discuss what some folk groups in your school might be: teachers, kindergartners, crossing guards, girls, boys, etc. Is there a school song? Emblem? Mascot? What happens during an assembly? What are some unspoken school rules?

2. Ask students to fill out the School Customs Worksheet. Then they can draw pictures, collaborate on a mural, or write a story about school traditions.

3. Invite an older teacher to class for students to interview about earlier school traditions or arrange for student teams to interview other school employees such as crossing guards or cafeteria staff. (Be sure to read Unit II and practice first.) Students should enter notes in a computer or notebook.

4. Document some school traditions through the year or a semester and display research results in a classroom or school exhibit, scrapbook, or computer program. Create a timeline of the events.

5. Research the school name, age, and history through interviews, community and school newspapers, town records.

6. Have students research the topic of school lore using local and school newspaper archives, yearbooks, retired teachers, former students, parents.

7. From what they have uncovered about their school and classroom folklife, students can create a welcome kit to help new comers. Items could include a school history; map of special places and unofficial rules, celebration, and a "Welcome to Our School" gretting card.

8. If students have begun portfolios for this unit, have them add products from this lesson to them. Use the Rubric for Portfolios to assess the quality of students' portfolios and assign points.


8th Grade Activities

1.The move to middle school means lockers and lots of other challenges. Set the stage for the lesson by asking the following questions: Are students in your school allowed to decorate their lockers? Do students decorate friends' lockers on birthdays? What are sports traditions at your school? Homecoming, pep rallies, trophies, old team photos? Are there special occasions, such as crazy hat day? Do students act differently with substitute teachers? When do students try to pull pranks? Are there any school legends?

2. Ask students to brainstorm school traditions and discuss what aspects might be folk culture and what might be popular culture. For example, the Homecoming dance might feature pop music, but it also features traditions passed on by example from year to year. Have them develop the table below by drawing or using a word processor and record the traditions in the table.

School Traditions
Folk Culture  Popular Culture

3. Ask students to work in teams or individually to choose a school tradition to document, researching through interviews, photos, yearbooks, school and community newspapers. What does this tradition say about the school? The community?

4. The Montana Heritage Project website describes some of the community explorations Montana students are undertaking. One example is an ongoing research project on old high school trophies and sports team photos as starting points for investigating school culture and history. Have students visit the Next Generation, Montana Heritage Project online magazine to find data to include in their reports. See Our School or Hallway of Memories. Have them contrast these Montana traditions to those at their school, or the old and new traditions.

Technology Option: Use a database or spreadsheet program to record the facts or items, have students complete open-ended statements, then complete them after analyzing their data. For example, "Both Montana High and Louisiana High had ______________. "Most trophies were awarded for _______________."

5. Distribute copies of the Rubric for Portfolios and direct students to work in pairs to assess first each other's research paper, then their own. Students should make indicated changes to improve their reports. Teacher should score the research papers using the rubric after students have edited them.

6. Students work in groups to design a presentation of their findings. They could create a slide show or bulletin board presentation, invite guest speakers, include school traditions on a school webpage, or write an article for the school paper. Use the Rubric for Portfolio Exhibits to grade the presentations. For a process evaluation, have students rate their own products. For a summative evaluation, teacher scores the exhibits using the rubric and assigns grades.

8th Grade Explorations and Extensions

1. Interview local "sports heroes" or people in the community who once played sports at your school to find out how sport traditions are the same and how they are different.

2. A cheerleading collection project could uncover changes in chants and cheers.

3. Research school colors, changing uniforms, sports rituals.

4. Make a "Welcome to Our School" kit to help new students understand your unofficial school culture. What would you want to know before entering your school?

5. School customs such as beauty pageants, step shows, class plays, halftime shows at football or basketball games can symbolize an era or a community's values. Analyze the structure and procedure of such performances to determine associated cultural values as they change over time or map a segment of a performance.


Unit III Resources

Unit III Outline


National Endowment for
            the Arts.

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