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Short Teaching Tips on Appalachian Books

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Contributors: Judy A. Teaford, Mountain State University, Beckley, WV (JAT)

Tina L. Hanlon, Ferrum College (TLH)


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Tina L. Hanlon

Adventures in Time

Choose an historical event that occurred in the twentieth century that you could travel back in time to visit. Use your imagination and research to write an adventure log entry. Think about what you might see, taste, hear, smell, and touch in your chosen place. Your adventure log entry might include a description of the people, the area, and the general mood surrounding the event. Think about ways you might take part in this event. Make your entry as detailed and as evocative as you can, using accurate information and photographs, if possible. Choose one aspect of the adventure log entry you've written and create a television script. Follow this example:

Scene:

Date:

Location:

People Present:

Description of Events:

Dialogue:

__________:_______________________________________________

__________:_______________________________________________

Collect your adventure log entry and script in a television program guide or display your entry and script on a bulletin board display entitled "Don't Touch that Channel!" (JAT)

Plan a Trip

Plan a trip in any part of Appalachia that takes at least three days, or a week or longer. Compile a notebook that includes the following items: itinerary (outline of dates and places), maps and directions, your budget, information on places to stay (campgrounds, motels, hotels, lodges in national or state parks), information on places to eat, a list of things to read before and during the trip, information on places to see during the trip—museums, historical sites, scenic landscapes, parks, etc. Include materials you copy from the Internet or acquire from tourist information offices. You might want to give your trip a specific theme, such as the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, Cherokee history, places associated with authors or settings of books, the New River, the history of the Blue Ridge Parkway. (TLH)

Appalachian Books

Creative Projects

Artifacts:

Bring in an artifact that the book reminds you of. Tell about the artifacts—its origin, special meaning, use, etc., and connect it to the book.

Historical Map:

Draw a map of the area covered in the book (not just any map, but a pictorial map—drawing skills are not important; most everyone can draw stick figures and boxes to represent buildings, etc. Just be sure that your drawing is neat and colorful!). Include important buildings and landmarks. Indicate important plot elements and where they occurred.

Appalachian Picture Books

Creative Projects

Compare Different Versions of the Same Picture Book (Text and Illustrations): 

Design a poster detailing the comparison in an artistic manner. Bring both books to class on the day of presentations. Be sure your examples show how the illustrations do or do not support, interact with, or expand the text in meaningful ways. (JAT)  

Rewrite and/or Illustrate a Favorite Poem, Children's Song, Rhymes, Riddles, Folktale, Ghost Story, Fable, Jokes, Sayings (Predictions, Signs, Remedies, Proverbs):

See Fiction and Poems in this web site for texts of folktales, stories, songs, and rhymes.

Choices might also include works from the following collections: 
Poems
: Rylant, Cynthia. Waiting to Waltz: A Childhood. Illus. Stephen Gammell. New York: Macmillan, 1984. 
Children's Songs:
 Botte, Marie. Singa Hipsy Doddle and Other Folk Songs of West Virginia. Parsons: McClain, 1991. 
Chase, Richard. Old Songs and Singing Games. New York: Dover, 1972. 
Rhymes
:  Milnes, Gerald. Granny Will Your Dog Bite and Other Mountain Rhymes. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.
Still, JamesAn Appalachian Mother Goose. Illus. Paul Brett Johnson. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1998.
Jack Tales: Chase, RichardThe Jack Tales. Illus. Berkeley Williams, Jr. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1971.
Davis, Donald. Jack Always Seeks His Fortune: Authentic Appalachian Jack Tales. Little Rock: August House, 1992. 
Kentucky Folk Tales
: Campbell, Marie. Tales From the Cloud Walking Country. Illus. Clare Leighton. Athens: Georgia UP, 2000. 
Ghost Tales:
Gainer, Patrick. Witches, Ghosts, and Signs: Folklore of the Southern Appalachians. Morgantown, WV: Seneca Books, 1975.
Musick, Ruth Ann. Coffin Hollow and Other Ghost Tales. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1977.
Musick, Ruth Ann. The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Tales. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1965.
General Collections
:
 Chase, RichardGrandfather Tales. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948.
Musick, Ruth Ann. Green Hills of Magic: West Virginia Folktales from Europe. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1970.
Shelby, Anne. The Adventures of Molly Whuppie and Other Appalachian Folktales. Illus. Paula McArdle. Chapel Hill: Univ. of NC Press, 2007.
Van Laan, Nancy. With a Whoop and a Holler. New York: Atheneum, 1998 ("A collection of tales, rhymes, riddles, superstitions, and sayings organized around three distinct regions of the South:  the Bayou, the Deep South, and Appalachia").  (JAT)

For examples of student illustrations of folktales and poems, see AppLit's Appalachian Picture Gallery.

Write and Illustrate an Original Poem, Children's Song, Rhymes, Riddles, Folk Tale, Ghost Story, or Fable:

You may print the text out on computer. You may use any medium to illustrate your pictures (collage, watercolor, finger paints, crayons, pencil crayons, etc.)  (JAT)

Essays

Focus on Values and Humor:

Write an essay that includes the following: (1) The title (underlined), author, and illustrator; (2) A brief summary of the book; (3) The answer to one of the following questions: a. Does this book reveal something about Appalachian values? b.Does this book reveal something about Appalachian humor? c. Does this book accurately represent Appalachia, its culture, and its people? Support your answer by incorporating information obtained from your analysis of the book with details from the book that represent Appalachia, or do not represent it accurately. (JAT)

Focus on Popular Culture: 

Write an essay that includes the following: (1) The title (underlined), author, and illustrator; (2) A brief summary of the book; (3) The answer to one of the following questions: a. Does this book reveal something about the artist’s opinion of Appalachians? b. Does this book reveal something about the writer’s opinion of Appalachians?  c. Does this book accurately represent Appalachia, its culture, and its people? Support your answer by incorporating information obtained from your analysis of the book, with details from the book that represent Appalachia, or do not represent it accurately. (JAT)

Reading a Picture Book:

After reading a picture book, read the text aloud to someone who does not know the book without showing that person the pictures. (It's really fun to do this with grand-parents or older people.) Ask the person to (1) describe his or her response to the text and (2) tell what the illustrations might look like. Then show the pictures to the person while rereading the book to them. (3) How does their response change? Write three paragraphs, one for each part of the assignment. Make sure that each paragraph has a topic sentence.  (JAT)

Create a Greeting Card Company

Celebrate Your Own Life

American playwright and Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson once said that the day he got his first typewriter was his "birthday" as a writer. Recall events (six) in your life that may be considered your "birthday" or special day. Set up a Greeting Card Company whose cards celebrate your special days with an Appalachian feel. You will write about and share special events in personal entries and in greeting cards. Try to recapture the way you were feeling before, during, and after the special event.  (Don't forget reunions!)  Choose a name and slogan for your Greeting Card Company. You can display your six greeting cards and personal entries (typed) on a bulletin board advertising your card company's name, logo, and slogan.  (JAT)

Celebrate Your Favorite Character's Life

Complete the assignment above by selecting events in the life of a character or family in one of your favorite books.

Family Tree

Your Own Family Tree

Have you ever been told that you look, sound, or act like someone else in your family or have some other connection to someone in your family you've never even met? List four positive traits that you believe have been passed on to you from someone in your family. You can include physical traits, personality traits, or mental attitudes. Next to each trait write the name of the family member from whom you may have acquired these traits. Jot down as many details about the person that you can think of. Organize your notes and write a one-page essay, describing how you and the family member you listed connect. Write a strong introduction. Begin by introducing the person and conclude with a thesis statement that makes your connection to her or him clear. Be sure that all your supporting paragraphs use details to support your thesis. Display your four traits on a family tree poster with photographs and essays as part of the limbs of the tree. Your own photograph can be the roots of the tree. You might also put together a family tree photo album with photographs and essays. (JAT)

A Literary Family Tree

Select a character in a book who has strong connections to family members in the same book or series of books. (Book suggestion: Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White.) List four positive traits that you believe have been passed on to this character from his or her family. You can include physical traits, personality traits, or mental attitudes. Next to each trait write the name of the family member from whom the character may have acquired these traits. Jot down as many details about the person that you can think of. Organize your notes and write a one-page essay, describing how the character and the family members you listed connect. Write a strong introduction. Begin by introducing the person and conclude with a thesis statement that makes the connections among family members clear. Be sure that all your supporting paragraphs use details to support your thesis. If the book has illustrations, include details about how the illustrations influence your analysis. Display your four traits on a family tree poster with photographs and essays as part of the limbs of the tree. You might photocopy or scan illustrations from the book for your display. (TLH)

Movie Reviews

Preparing to review a film is very important. You should read about the actors, their works, the directors, their works, and any previous reviews on the film. (Possible sources for this information include the Internet, newspapers, magazines.) Immediately after the film, record your impressions of the film. Grab the reader's attention from the start with a strong and catchy lead (possibly your expectations before seeing the film, including an introduction of the film's main characters. Follow with your opinion of the film. Focus your evaluation on specific elements of the film. For example, a strong story line, plot (What happens in the film. Does it hold your interest? Does it seem contrived?), convincing characterizations, acting (the way the actors portray their characters. Do the actors create believable characters? Do they evoke the intended responses in the audience: laughter, fear, sorrow?), theme (what the film means. Is the movie's theme significant, worth pondering? Does the film develop the theme, or does it oversimplify a complex issue?), script writing (the way the characters are developed by the scriptwriter and the director. Do the characters seem real, believable?) Prepare three two-page reviews. For one of the reviews read a negative review of a movie that you have seen and enjoyed. Then write a review in which you counter the reviewer's criticism. Evaluate the elements of the film that the reviewer examined, and base your positive review on your critical interpretation of these elements.  (JAT)

For films, see Steve Fesenmaier's Annotated Bibliographies of West Virginia and Appalachian Films in this web site.

Museum or Exhibit 

After Visiting an Exhibit

Write an essay that includes the following: (1) The title of the exhibit and its location (including city and state),  (2) A brief summary of what the exhibit contains, (3) The answer to one of the following questions: a. What educational/community/cultural benefit does the exhibit offer? b. How might this exhibit be important to both children and adults? Support your answer by incorporating information obtained from your visit to the exhibit. (JAT)

Design Your Own Exhibit

Write an essay that includes the following: (1) The title of the exhibit and its location (including city and state), (2) A brief summary of what the exhibit is about, (3) The answer to one of the following questions: a. What educational/community/cultural benefit does the exhibit offer? b. How might this exhibit be important to both children and adults? Support your answer by incorporating information from exhibits you have seen, in person on online exhibits, or any artifacts that you would like to include in your exhibit. You might include a drawing or map of your exhibit. (TLH)

Prepare and Present a Lesson

Choose a topic of interest and present it to your classmates as though you were the teacher. Prepare your Lesson Planlecture, visual and audio aids (film clip, music, etc.), handouts, activities (group work, short writing assignment, artistic assignment, etc.), and assessmentjust as your actual teacher would, written out with objectives and procedures. Your teacher will provide you with an acceptable format in the preparation of your lesson plan. Turn in your Lesson Plan to your teacher and present your lesson to the class. (JAT)

See Lesson Plan Guidelines in this web site.

Trading Cards

There are many interesting people, places, and events in Appalachian history. Some examples include Native Americans, Melungeons, famous people, natural formations and wonders, pioneer settlements, industries, buildings, towns, natural and human disasters, wars and battles, feuds and family fights, and labor conflicts. Plan a series of trading cardssimilar to baseball cardsthat focus on a local aspect. Conduct research, collect photographs and illustrations, and prepare twelve trading cards on heavy paper, focusing on one category. The cards should be bigger than normal baseball trading cards, approximately 1/2 the size of a regular sheet of printer paper or construction paper. Libraries, local historians, and museums/historical societies make excellent resources.  (JAT)


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