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Louisiana Voices Educator's Guide  
Getting Started With This Guide  
Study Guide Summary  
Outline of the Study Guide  
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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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

Lesson 3: The Family--Louisiana Family Folklore

Lesson 3, Activity 1: Naming Traditions

Lesson 3, Activity 2: Family Pictures (this page)

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

Unit III Resources




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

Lesson 3 The Family: Louisiana Family Folklore

Activity 2 Family Pictures


Grade Levels


Curriculum Areas

English Language Arts, Social Studies, Visual Arts


Purpose of Lesson

This lesson asks students to look at their families as an outsider would, to research and share the stories behind their photos. Then they look at other images of families from magazines and artwork and apply the analyzing skills they've learned from studying their own pictures. Although photographs and videos of family life are not explicitly traditional folklife, the events recorded on film and the stories the images evoke are part of family folklife.


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

1. Students learn personal, family, and community history.

H-1C-E4 Recognizing how folklore and other cultural elements have contributed to our local, state, and national heritage. (1, 3, 4)

H-1A-M2 Demonstrating historical perspective through the political, social, and economic context in which an event or idea occurred. (1, 2, 3, 4)

2. Students see how people change over time.

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

3. Students understand that pictures of families and family customs cross cultural lines.

VA-HP-E2 Recognize and respond to concepts of beauty and taste in the ideas and creations of others through the study of visual arts.

VA-HP-M2 Recognize that concepts of beauty differ by culture and that taste varies from person to person.

VA-AP-E6 Identify where and how the visual arts are used in daily life and in the community.

VA-AP-M6 Describe the use and value of the visual arts in daily life, the workplace, and the community.

4. Students learn to look for clues to time period, relationships, status, and community changes in family pictures.

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

H-1A-M4 Analyzing historical data using primary and secondary sources. (1, 2, 3, 4)

H-1D-E1 Identifying the characteristics and historical development of selected societies throughout the world. (1, 3, 4)

5. Students recognize how folklore is passed on and functions in people's lives.

H-1D-M1 Describing the contributions of people, events, movements, and ideas that have been significant in the history of Louisiana. (1, 3, 4)

H-1C-E4 Recognizing how folklore and other cultural elements have contributed to our local, state, and national heritage. (1, 3, 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

American Memory Project, Library of Congress

Collected Visions, How Family Photos Shape Us

Louisiana Voices Venn Diagrams

Story Map

Caring for Your Photos, American Institute for Conservation

Photo Conservation, The Heritage Education Network

Student Worksheets

Interpreting Photos Checklist

Family Picture Worksheet

Photo Clues Worksheet

Evaluation Tools/Opportunities


1. Journal Writing
2. Portfolios
3. Photo Clues Worksheet
4. Interpreting Photos Checklist


1. Interpreting Photos Checklist
2. Photo Clues Worksheet


1. Stories about photos and pictures
2. Drawings of family
3. Transcriptions, notes
4. Autobiographies, poetry, stories
5. Completed worksheets


Background Information for the Teacher

From portraits to the earliest daguerreotypes to camcorders and digital cameras, families have recorded their images for posterity. We look at our family pictures so often we may neglect to study them for the story behind the image. Why is Uncle Jed always standing by himself? Is that Granddaddy's pirogue that he made during the Depression? Whose front yard is that? Did Canal Street ever look like that? Are there any clues that this is a Louisiana family? Does everybody have family reunions?


To Prepare

Read the introduction to Unit III Lesson 3. Review the student worksheets. Accumulate some photos, magazine pictures, ads, and copies of artwork depicting families and devise a plan to safeguard family photos. Send home a letter with students explaining the lesson and asking whether students may bring a family photo to class (see Letter to Parents and Caregivers in Unit II). Describe the precautionary measures you'll take to protect the photos, for example, photocopying and sending back home quickly; locking them up at night; putting them in protective sheets made specifically for archiving photos; mounting with specially designed corner mounts; keeping in a secure place; soliciting candid photos rather than an irreplaceable family portrait. Students may also take a digital photograph of a family picture.

Ask parents to talk to their children about the photos and their context, recalling who made them, when, where, under what circumstances. Where are they kept? Do they have special meaning to the family? When the family looks at them, what stands out to make them special to the family? When other class members look at them, what stands out? Do the same things stand out to both groups?

Choose one of your family pictures or an image of another family that appeals to you to share with students. Decide how you will protect students' pictures and make arrangements and buy proper materials. Remember to provide photos or pictures of other families for students who would like alternatives.

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

Journal Writing - Have students keep journals during the time of the lesson, where they record procedures and results of their investigations, observations, hypotheses, and inferences about the information collected. Encourage them to also record questions and thoughts that occur as they work through the activities.

Portfolios - Include Photo Clues Worksheets, interviews of adults, graphs, worksheets, oral and written reports, artwork, stories about photos and pictures cooperative group presentations, online research, etc.


4th Grade Activities

1. Distribute copies of the Interpreting Photos Checklist and have students read and discuss it. Make sure that they understand that at the end of the lesson they will be scored on how well they performed the task and whether they included the "Quality Features."

2. Share some of your own family photos, or pictures and artwork of other families, and stories about the people and the photos. What do they say about a family? If you're from Louisiana, are there any indications in the photos?

3. Copy and distribute the Family Picture Worksheet. Demonstrate how to find clues in one of the pictures by answering each question on the worksheet, then telling them what clues you found to help you derive the answer. Challenge them to find more details in your picture or find evidence to show that more or different conclusions could be deduced.

4. Ask students to share their photos and stories in groups or as a class. After each student finishes, other students should ask questions to elicit more details. What more do they want to know? What questions can they brainstorm? They may use the Family Picture Worksheet as a guide. Students should make notes on their Photo Clues Worksheet.

5. Have students select a photo and describe it by writing the answers on their worksheets.

6. Assign students a writing task (autobiography, poetry, story) to condense and polish the stories of their family photos. They must include details derived on the Family Picture Worksheet and the Photo Clues Worksheet.

7. Ask students to evaluate their own writings by using the Interpreting Photos Checklist. Then pair off students and have them evaluate each other's writings, then edit their writings using the results. For a summative evaluation, the teacher can use the blanks provided under "Teacher" and assign grades.

8. Publish the stories with photocopies of the photos, mount in the room, scan into a computer, make a class album, or add to students' family folklore portfolios.

Technology Option: Use a word processing program to write the stories. Import scanned or digital images of the photos into the document. Access the Story Map activity online and make a similar map to guide the development of the story.


4th Grade Explorations and Extensions

1. Compare and contrast your own family photos and pictures of families in the media and literature, discussing what you can "read" in family pictures now that you have examined such images in more depth.

2. After interviewing someone in a family picture, write a paragraph or poem sharing the story behind the photo and scan the photo into a document with the story.

3. Work with family members to identify and record the names of people in family photos.


8th Grade Activities

1. Follow Steps 1 - 4 from the 4th grade plan above, using the worksheets and explanations to help them learn how to "read" the photos.

2. Ask students to take a family photo or draw a family portrait of their own or someone else's family, then design a classroom exhibit or scan pictures into a computer to create an online exhibit. An alternative would be to choose photos of different kinds of groups to compare with family pictures.

3. If you'd like students to learn how to conduct effective fieldwork interviews, family photos offer a great way to start, since the interviewee has the photo as a prompt. Assign students to interview someone about a family picture. If they use a audio or video recorder, they should choose a portion of the interview to transcribe word for word. If they take notes, they should write up a portion of the interview as accurately as possible. They should take release forms with them to their interviews to secure permission to share them (see Transcribing and Audio Recording in Unit II). In eliciting stories, they should prompt adults to recall what they were wearing, who took the photo, what the weather and setting were like, what they felt like. The transcription, written notes, or oral retellings can culminate this assignment.

4. "Read" the stories behind the pictures by discussing with students where people are in relation to each other, clothing, setting. Ask students to critique the aesthetic elements such as composition, light and shadow, color, and form in small groups or as a class. They may use the Family Picture Worksheet as a starting point.

5. Study pictures and photos of other kinds of groups such as classes, workers, or military orders. Compare and contrast family photos and other group portraits using a Venn diagram. Access the Venn Diagrams to see how it's done. As an alternative, have students make three lists on a page titled: "Photo 1 Has, They Both Have, Photo 2 Has."


8th Grade Explorations and Extensions

1. Research proper archival storage of family photographs using Caring for Your Photos, American Institute for Conservation, and Photo Conservation, The Heritage Education Network. Also see Unit III Resources.

2. Start a family project to make new family albums of archival quality (such as avoiding the popular albums with adhesive pages, which erode photos), or back up digital family photos.

3. Research old community photos, then organize a community family album day for families to share albums and photos at school.

4. Create a family timeline using computer software and illustrate it with photos.


Unit III Resources

Unit III Outline


National Endowment for
            the Arts.

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