Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives Educational Curriculum
LANGUAGE ARTS: Writer's Workshop
Dust Bowl News
Here is an open-ended response sheet to be used for publishing short articles written during Writers Workshop. Although designed for primary students, this newspaper format can be adapted for older students. Keep a stack of blank Dustbowl Newspapers for students to use throughout this unit.
This open-ended way to record stories encourages students to write historical fiction. As they put themselves in the place of a child in the thirties a deeper level of engagement develops.
To the right is an example of the kinds of stories that can be used in the Dustbowl Newspaper. (From Theresa Kubasak's Second Grade Class)
Paper Bag Journal
Among the many treasures at the Woody Guthrie Archives are several hardback notebooks in which Woody jotted, drew, journaled, painted, wrote. Some are thematic and some are full of scattered musings but all reflect a person who used writing to make sense of the world.
Students can make their own writing books or journals by using cardboard covered with crumpled paper bags with paper bag pages. Directions for making books can be found in Transitions by Regie Routman. (Heinemann 1988) Hand sewing the pages together gives it a homey look.
Use these homemade journals for publishing stories edited from Writers Workshop.
Writing Song Lyrics*
Woody's popular song, "Roll on Columbia" was written for the Bonneville Power Administration in 1941. With music based on "Goodnight Irene" by Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly), Woody's handwriting states "Original song, (not the tune)." Woody also took Carter Family tunes or traditional folk songs and put in his own words.
Invite your class to work in pairs or triads and do the same. They could choose "Roll on Columbia" and bring it to another incarnation with their own issue. Or students could write their own words using the tune "Do Re Mi" or "So Long It's Been Good to Know Yuh." Whatever song your students decide to rewrite, be sure to provide an "Authors Chair" time for them to sing their words, or reproduce the lyric sheets and make a class song book for everyone to sing together.
*Please note: ROLL ON COLUMBIA, DO RE MI, and SO LONG, IT'S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YUH are copyrighted by TRO-Ludlow Music. Any lyric changes to copyrighted works that are to be published must first have the approval of the author and/or publisher of the song.
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