SECTION 1,  FOLKWRITING PROJECT’S BACKGROUND

 Section One is divided into five chapters which give information about the Folkwriting Project: its background, the writing process, folklife as a subject for writing assignments, definition of folklife, instructions for doing fieldwork and interviews in the classroom.

 CHAPTER 1,  PROJECT OVERVIEW: 
A NARRATIVE OF THE CONNECTING HOMES, SCHOOLS, AND COMMUNITIES PROJECT 

This chapter introduces our Georgia Humanities Council funded Folkwriting project and the people who created it. The central idea behind the project is that local places, people, and events are powerful subjects for student writing. During the summer of 2001, a team of teachers attended three folklife and interviewing in-service workshops and then developed writing units tailored to Georgia materials, resources, and quality core curriculum standards (QCCs). 

CHAPTER 2,  THE WRITING PROCESS 

This chapter discusses the writing process and the stages—pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.   

CHAPTER  3,  FOLKLIFE AS A SUBJECT FOR WRITING

 This chapter emphasizes the need for students to write about familiar topics or subjects in order for them to focus on learning how to write.  Too many times writing teachers hear students say they have nothing to write about.  This statement is far from the truth.  Their lives and their communities provide them with a wealth of material for their poems, essays, plays, skits, letters, news articles, and more. 

 Also, this chapter stresses teaching students the writing process in a standards-based classroom, placing the learner at the center, not the teacher.

 CHAPTER 4, (all levels) AN INTRODUCTION TO FOLKLIFE

 This chapter provides       

  • A brief introduction to folklife for teachers;

  • Guidelines on how to recognize folklife in everyday life;

  • Classroom activities for all grade levels designed to help students
    understand and identify the living community traditions that
    surround them.

These materials are intended to supplement individual lessons in the workbook when introducing folklife in the classroom.

 CHAPTER 5, (all levels)  FIELDWORK AND INTERVIEWS IN THE CLASSROOM

 This chapter  

  • Provides teachers with a rationale for doing fieldwork project with students;
  • Offers tips on how to design and carry out effect fieldwork projects, including specific suggestions for student interviews;
  •  Includes suggested activities, adaptable for various grade levels, which can be used to teach and practice fieldwork and interview techniques with your students;
  • Complements other units whenever teachers use fieldwork or interview activities.

 SECTION TWO, FOLKWRITING LESSON PLANS AND ACTIVITIES

 Section Two is divided into six chapters of specific lessons plans written by two elementary school, two middle school, and two high school level teachers in Summer 2001 and piloted in Fall 2002.  These level-specific lesson plans are organized around units titled “My Places,” “Their Places,” and “Our Places.”

 CHAPTER 6,  (Lower Elementary)  FOLKWRITING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN

 This chapter draws on the 2nd grade text Spotlight on Literacy, Elaine Mei Aoki, et al. (New York: MacMillan/McGraw-Hill, 1997), but other suitable literature may be used. The lessons in this chapter were written for the second grade classroom but may be adapted to other levels. Some of the lessons would be especially suitable for third grade social studies, with its emphasis on communities.  Students first write about their special places, then go on a field trip and interview residents about a local custom, and, finally, create community profiles about towns or communities in the area.

CHAPTER 7, (Upper Elementary)  WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD

 Originally written for the 4th grade gifted social studies classroom, the lessons in this chapter have been adapted for 3rd grade in keeping with the local community emphasis of the Georgia Quality Core Curriculum Social Studies standards. The main objective of this chapter is for students to think about their own neighborhoods and customs within them.  The students interview a “long timer” in a neighborhood to find the customs that may be unique to that neighborhood and turn this information into a booklet that is a newcomers guide to the neighborhood(s).

 CHAPTER 8, (Middle Grades)  EXPLORING HOLIDAY TRADITIONS

 The lessons in this chapter were originally developed for a 7th grade language arts classroom using Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The chapter focuses on Christmas and other winter holidays but can easily be adapted to other seasonal observances and works of literature. In these lessons students will use community and personal celebrations of winter holidays to produce the kind of work that is engaging and interesting to them:  holiday customs in the Dickens classic, childhood memories of winter holidays, research about the winter holidays of others (including community interviews and library research), exploring community services and holiday activities for the needy in the community, and creating and publishing a classroom cookbook.

 CHAPTER 9, (Middle Grades)  STUDENT WRITING ABOUT EVERYDAY LIVES 

Before joining the Folkwriting Project, Margo Harris had used many folkwriting activities in her classroom with amazing success.  The students not only enjoyed the projects but also learned to love writing. Students wrote things outside of class and brought them for her to read. Students delight in writing about their everyday lives, their families, their histories, and their beliefs.  Indeed, students lose their dread of writing when they are allowed to write about what they know. A number of lessons are designed to work with the 8th grade language arts text Elements of Literature 2nd Course  (Holt Rinehart Winston, 1997). This chapter emphasizes descriptive writing about place, childhood memories, a bio poem, character education, character traits, local heroes, treasured objects, and a student interview project culminating in a classroom cookbook. 

 CHAPTER 10, (High School)  SCRAPBOOKING MY WORLD

 The units in this chapter were designed for a ninth grade class on a block system and may need to be adapted if not on block scheduling. The lessons are to be used in conjunction with the Odyssey but may be used with a story or a novel. No matter what literary selection is used in conjunction with these units, the teacher should remember to provide the students with an environment that is conducive to writing and to give writing prompts that are meaningful to them.

 In this chapter students address the shaping power of place on literary characters, in their own lives, in the life of a mentor (who is interviewed by the student), and in the community. The lessons designed around scrapbook units always stimulate much enthusiasm. Adam Hathaway sees the scrapbook medium as simply a vehicle that gets the students writing about what they know, whether it is places, people, or events.  When students write about the things they know, they are tapping into a knowledge base that already exists as well as connecting with the writing topic in a very personal way. Their work seems important. The activities in this unit can be based completely on scrapbooks or in combination with other means of marking places that matter, such as community cultural markers or a narrative of place.

 CHAPTER 11, (High School)  PLAYS ABOUT PLACE

This chapter is designed for beginning drama classes but can be implemented in English sections or advanced drama with slight modifications.  The purposes of this chapter are to cover a wide variety of necessary theatre skills using one central idea and to connect students with the places and traditional events that are familiar to them.  Students write well when they write about what they know, and that is the basis of Folkwriting.

 This chapter begins with reading a play in which place or event is a central metaphor and culminates in the writing and performance of the students’ original plays.  Students explore playwriting through the writing process.  They will do pre-writing activities such as reading other works, researching, and brainstorming, and will work together to write, revise, and edit original plays based on places and traditions in their hometown.  The publishing phase of the process will come as a performance of these works.  The students will work together to produce the shows, thereby learning about play production and technical theatre.

APPENDIX 

  • CHAPTER REFERENCES
  • SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SOUTH GEORGIA AND REGIONAL FOLKLIFE 
  • WRITING AND FOLKLIFE SOURCES CONSULTED 
  • GLOSSARY OF FOLKLIFE TERMS 
  • WHAT IS FOLKLIFE? EXAMPLES FROM SOUTH GEORGIA