Woody Guthrie Elementary School Curriculum


Besides being a metacognitive tool, graphic organizers are a way for students to organize information, draw conclusions, summarize and share information with peers. They also serve as responses to literature. Because of the open-ended nature of graphic organizers, they may be used with any book or topic. It's best to have these available throughout the entire unit on Woody Guthrie so students can use graphic organizers independently.



Perhaps the most popular and effective graphic organizer of all was designed by Donna Ogle of the Reading and Language Departmant at National Louis University, Evanston, Illinois. The "KWL" is an excellent tool for beginning a new unit. On a huge sheet of butcher paper prepare three columns. The heading of the first column (K) will be, "What do we know about Woody Guthrie?" The middle column (W) is "What do we want to know about Woody Guthrie?" The third column (L) is, "What have we learned about Woody Guthrie?"

Begin the KWL activity by brainstorming with the class before you start the Woody Guthrie unit. What is the previous knowledge of the students? What do they know about Woody Guthrie? Record all responses in the K column.

What are they wondering about Woody Guthrie? What do we want to learn more about? Record these inquiries in the W column. For the duration of your unit on Woody Guthrie, keep this KWL posted in the room, working to answer the questions in the middle column.

When the unit is over, gather the class around the KWL again, asking students what they have learned about Woody Guthrie. Record on the last column.


Grandma's Fan

Based on a traditional quilt pattern, this format provides a way to sequence events, jot main ideas or keep track of characters. One way to use it is to write Woody Guthrie's name in the small curved section, recording events of his life on the panels of the fan. Or the students can write, "What I've Learned About Woody Guthrie" in the large section, listing ideas in the pieces of the fan.

There is room to write the title and author of a related book in the small corner with events of the book written in the fan pieces, illustrating events in the large blank corner. Poet of the People by Bonnie Christensen or This Land was Made for You and Me by Elizabeth Partridge would work well with this type of organizer.

Another use would be filling in the fan with several Woody Guthrie songs that the student knows or likes while writing "My Collection of Woody Guthrie Songs" in the curved corner.

Grandma's Fan


Dust Bowl Newspaper
See Response to Literature

Using the format of a newspaper, students write as if they were back in 1935. Student writes name beside "Editor." There are two places to draw pictures and add captions to go with the stories written in the newspaper. Suggested headlines are "Family Struggles" and "Weather Report." There is no suggested headline for the lead story.

This format could be adapted and the date changed to any year significant in Woody Guthrie's life, for example, 1941 when he was commissioned by the U.S. Department of the Interior to write songs promoting the building of the Bonneville Dam. An appropriate headline could be "Roll on, Columbia." Another possibility would be the year 1945 when Woody met Moe Asch and began to record in New York. The headline might be, "This Land is Your Land." (See Writers Workshop)

Blank Dust Bowl Newpaper


125-131 E. Main Street, Suite #200 | Mt. Kisco, NY 10549
T: (914) 241-3844 | E: info(at)woodyguthrie.org

Copyright 2001-2020, Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.
Site design by Anna Canoni.