Part 1 The Seasonal Round
Lesson 3 Folklife Around the Year and Around the State
One of the most important things to do [for an Iranian Jashneh-Aide-a-Norus or Celebration of the Holiday of the New Day] is to prepare a Haft Sin which consists of seven items needed for daily life and whose names all begin with the "s" sound in the Farsi language. Some traditional items for the Haft Sin are: Sabzeh, the first growth of green shoots of barley, wheat, or lentil; Samanou, a sweet. . .; Sib, apples; Sekeh, coins (gold or silver--that you may be prosperous in the new year), these are often placed on the Koran Sepan, burned in daily life as an incense to prevent disease, illness, and bad luck; Sombol, hyacinths, the first spring flowers; and Saw'at, a clock.
--Fereshdeh Rasti, East Baton Rouge Parish
English Language Arts, Social Studies
Purpose of Lesson
Students research how seasonal changes in Louisiana affect their own lives and the folklife of their communities and the state. They investivate weather, crops, celebrations, and environmental changes through the year.
Lesson Objectives/Louisiana Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Foundation Skills
1. Students learn how the seasonal round affects not only themselves but the folklife of a community and the state.
2. Students investigate differences in the seasonal round in the regions of Louisiana, including celebrations, festivals, customs, crops, weather, music, and environmental changes through the year.
3. Students collect folk beliefs about the weather.
4. Students research a seasonal celebration or activity in depth, including fieldwork as well as research in books and on the Internet.
5. Students produce documentation presentations that show the relationship between a region of the state and the celebrations practiced there.
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.
Background Information for the Teacher
In addition to holidays and special events, seasonal changes affect our work, recreation, foodways, beliefs, customs, even our worldviews. Students see how seasons change the landscape, but they may not have considered how other aspects of their lives and the life of their community change according to the season. Working individually or in teams, ask students to choose a topic below and investigate seasonal change through one or more of these perspectives, or lenses. Some students may be more interested in the science and geography aspects of these topics, while others care about customs, sayings, and stories. All students' interests can be accommodated in a culminating class project such as a radio show, scrapbook, book, webpage, skit, or exhibit. Here are some perspectives to consider:
Gather books and other resources to help students research. Read some of the Louisiana Folklife Articles listed in Technology Connections above. If possible, find an almanac to bring to class. Determine how thoroughly you want students to investigate these topics. Students could conduct fieldwork among workers in outdoor occupations, hunters and fishermen, cooks, craftspeople, celebration organizers, friends, and family members. They could limit work to collecting sayings and beliefs, or they could conduct more extensive research in books, on the Internet, and through fieldwork. This activity lends itself well to collaborative group work. Bookmark images from the Creole State Exhibit -- Ritual, Festival, and Religion. If using Venn diagrams, Venn Diagram shows how to use them for comparisons.
Print and distribute the Rubric for Collaborative Group Fieldwork Research and go over it with students. Explain that they should refer to it periodically to be sure they are accomplishing the tasks listed, and they will assess their own participation in the collaborative group using it at the end of the lesson. You will evaluate the groups' work using the rubric at the end of the lesson as a summative measure.
4th and 8th Grade Activities
1. Begin by brainstorming about ways students think seasonal change affects their lives. What sounds differ, for example? Maybe they hear the chimes of an ice cream truck, school bus brakes, firecrackers, or mockingbirds. Add some of the topics from the list of perspectives above if they don't raise them. Ask students to choose some of these topics for their research and discuss methods they could use: books, the Internet, talking to each other, talking informally to family members and neighbors, conducting a fieldwork project to collect data, or inviting someone to class to interview about how seasons influence their work or foodways, for example. If you have decided to have them work in collaborative groups, designate the group members and let each group choose one of the topics and decide which research method they will use. Alternatively, each member in the collaborative group could use a different type of research. Distribute the Rubric for Collaborative Group Fieldwork Research and discuss it thoroughly with the students. Make sure that they understand that the performance elements explain their expected behavior, and that these indicators should guide their work as they progress through the lesson. See Unit II for more guidance on fieldwork.
2. Investigate how seasons differ in regions of Louisiana through newspaper, Internet, radio, or TV weather reports. They might also interview students in another region in an online regional culture exchange (see Unit IV Lesson 1). Students can find weather data at National Weather Service - Louisiana Weather Data and record them on a chart. In addition to weather, study how seasonal changes affect daily life, celebrations, work, play, agriculture--any of the topics from the list above that interest students.
3. Ask students for examples of beliefs about the weather: "Red sky at night, sailor's delight," or "A ring around the moon means rain will come soon." "If it rains on St. Medard's Day, it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights." (St. Medard was a French bishop, honored on June 8.) Farmers and gardeners still rely on folk beliefs about weather and make predictions based on natural observations. Ask students to collect such beliefs and predictions from older people and choose a way to present results: chart, computer slide show, or class master list. This could be part of a fieldwork project that gives students practice designing and conducting fieldwork (see Unit II). They may also conduct research in almanacs such as the Ladies' Birthday Almanac, Louisiana Almanac, or Old Farmer's Almanac. Print and distribute the Seasonal Events Fieldwork Checklist and have students use it as a guide.
4. What changes in the landscape mark seasonal change? Purple martins returning to gourd birdhouses? Staking out a backyard garden or preparing fields for planting? The appearance of vegetable stands? Mardi Gras beads draped over utility lines? Repairing boats in dry dock? Ask students to draw a picture or series of pictures of their community landscape that reflect the seasonal round or to download images from the Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery and arrange in a classroom exhibit.
5. Ask students to design a Seasonal Change Bingo Card using the suggestions with the blank Folklife Bingo Worksheet, creating columns for seasonal round topics such as celebrations, sayings, customs, sounds, beliefs, foodways, religious practices, and so on. Use part of a class period for students to play their bingo games in small groups or as a class. They may seek out students who can give examples and ask them to initial the appropriate square.
6. Working individually or in teams, students should thoroughly research a seasonal celebration or activity such as rural or urban Mardi Gras, Kwanzaa, planting and harvesting various types of crops, Stock Day or rodeos, trail rides, festivals, pow-wows, Vietnamese New Year, hunting or fishing seasons, parades, and so on. This may be done in depth with students photographing, interviewing, and mapping events (see Unit II) or through the Internet, regional class exchanges, books, and newspapers. Projects could include photographs, drawings, maps, music, recordings or transcriptions of interviews, student essays, brochures, computer slide shows, radio program, podcast, or classroom seasonal round museum. Louisiana Folklife Articles, Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery, and the Creole State Exhibit -- Ritual, Festival, and Religion offer lots of information. You may choose to use the Seasonal Events Web Quest, which links to these resources, as a tool to launch their research or as an assignment. Students may use the Internet to match appropriate festivals with their hometowns on the Louisiana Festival Worksheet. For correct answers, see the Louisiana Festivals Worksheet Answer Sheet (PDF Version). If these are written above your students' reading ability, refer to the Adaptation Strategies a for ways to adjust and modify them to levels that students can understand.
7. Ask the collaborative groups to work together to score their Rubric for Collaborative Group Fieldwork Research.
8. Have students present their research projects. During the presentations, ask audience members to refer to the Rubric for Collaborative Group Fieldwork Research to evaluate how well the performance indicators were met. Then ask them to complete the Feedback Statements section.
4th and 8th Grade Explorations and Extensions
1. Research related seasonal activities in other states or nations and compare using Venn diagrams or oral or written reports. See Unit IX Resources for many publications on seasonal celebrations around the world.
2. Interview someone in another language about a seasonal celebration. Using a seasonal round calendar makes the process easier. This guide has French and Spanish versions of the Seasonal Round Worksheet.
3. Research traditional music or crafts related to seasonal celebrations. Start with the Creole State Exhibit--Ritual, Festival, and Religion and the Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery. Share research in a computer slide show or podcast.
4. Compare Mardi Gras in different regions of Louisiana and around the world. In some countries this ancient pre-Lenten tradition is known as Carnival. Read a comparison of different Louisiana Mardi Gras celebrations in The Varieties of Mardi Gras. Read about rural Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana in Dance for a Chicken. See Unit IX Resources for books on Carnival and other celebrations around the world. Elementary students in New Orleans contributed to Mardi Gras on the Net. Teachers, use Adaptation Strategies to adapt these adult-oriented resources to your students' reading level, if necessary. Share research in multimedia reports.
5. Design a celebration to mark a seasonal change in your classroom. Brainstorm with students, collaborate with music and art specialists, and invite parents. Document the event, including the planning stages, with photographs, video recording, and notes to include in an exhibit or notebook in conjunction with enacting the celebration.
6. Trade information about seasonal round celebrations, activities, and environmental changes in your region with students in another region through an Internet student exchange connection.P>7. Learn about seasonal shifts in another region by exploring Wisconsin Weather Stories. Share a personal weather story with a friend or classmate or ask a family member for weather stories.