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Dana Huff
16 February 2009

Locate a lesson plan on the Internet and evaluate it using the ASSURE model as a guideline. Include a brief description of the resource as well as an analysis of each piece of the ASSURE model. Please provide the link to the lesson plan you are evaluating.


Folklore in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.


This lesson plan is part of the National Endowment of the Humanities resource database of lesson plans called EDSITEment. The lesson plan calls for students to determine "the relationship between formal individual literary creativity and the informal, traditional aesthetic standards of the writer's own community."



The lesson plan does not describe the students or learners with more precision than grades 9-12 possibly to allow for the fact that standards and curricula vary widely by state. Not defining a grade or age, gender, or ethnicity allows the teacher to adapt the lesson plan for his/her learners.


Before students can do this lesson, they must be familiar with the "broad outlines" (major incidents) of Zora Neale Hurston's biography. Students must also have read Their Eyes Were Watching God or at least read up through chapter six. They will need to be able to use a computer to play audio.


This lesson is geared toward students who favor verbal/linguistic, musical/rhythmic, and interpersonal intelligences (Smaldino, Lowther, & Russell, 2008, p. 89). Verbal/linguistic students will respond to the written and oral part of the lesson. Musical/rhythmic students will enjoy the musical aspect of the folklore songs Hurston collected. Interpersonal students will enjoy learning about others, as this lesson focuses on anthropological aspects of Hurston's work and language and dialect of African Americans. In addition, students who favor concrete random or abstract sequential information processing habits will respond to the exploratory nature of listening to and transcribing the recordings and decoding verbal messages and reading respectively.


The lesson plan writer offers the following objectives:

  • Define folklore, folk groups, tradition, and oral narrative
  • Identify traditional elements in Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Analyze and understand the role of traditional folkways and folk speech in the overall literary impact of the novel
  • Compare Zora Neale Hurston's work as a collector of folk narrative with her better-known status as a novelist
  • Understand as both listeners and tellers the importance of voice, pacing, and other features of performance in oral narrative
  • Transcribe orally given narrative into eye dialect.

These objectives are aligned to the following standards published by the National Council for the Social Studies and the National Council of Teachers of English:

  • NCSS-1: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity.
  • NCSS-3: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.
  • NCTE/IRA-3: Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • NCTE/IRA-4: Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • NCTE/IRA-5: Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes. more
  • NCTE/IRA-6: Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts. more
  • NCTE/IRA-8: Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge. more
  • NCTE/IRA-9: Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
  • NCTE/IRA-12: Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

*Note, the links to the social studies standards were dead, and I used the Internet Archive to view the standards linked, as a search of the current NCSS site did not yield the same standards given by the lesson plan author.


Audience: None of the objectives list the audience aside from classifying the lesson as 9-12. Presumably this information is left vague for 9-12 teachers to adapt to their own students. Therefore, an examination of these objectives yields that audience is missing.

Behavior: The behaviors in the objectives ask students to define, identify, analyze, compare, understand, and transcribe. The terms define, identify, analyze, and compare clearly communicate the intention of the lesson and describe behaviors that are observable. Understand is a vague term that does not describe adequately the behavior desired. It might be better to change the behavior to explain as both listeners and tellers the importance of voice, pacing, and other features of performance in oral narrative and understand the role of traditional folkways and folk speech in the overall literary impact of the novel. The final term transcribe is similar reconstruct to Smaldino, Lowther, & Russell's (2008) table "The Helpful Hundred" (p. 93) in that students would be asked to create a written reconstruction of an audio recording. One objective should be rewritten for clarity, but the others describe observable behaviors. Behaviors are partly stated.

Conditions: None of the objectives describe the conditions under which the performance will be assessed. The lesson plan addresses these concerns elsewhere, but no information is given about the materials and tools students will use to demonstrate mastery of the objectives in the language of the objectives themselves. Conditions for meeting objectives are missing.

Degree: No standards or criteria are given to help the teacher who uses this lesson plan evaluate an acceptable level of performance. Presumably, this omission will allow teachers to tailor expectations to their own students and create a rubric or degree of accuracy or proficiency to evaluate their own students. The degree or criteria are missing.

In evaluating this lesson's objectives using the ABCD Checklist alone, it would seem to be poorly written; however, it is important to note that the lesson objectives were probably written to allow "teachers to modify the objectives to meet specific learning needs of their students" (Smaldino, Lowther, & Russell, 2008, p. 94).



Strategies suggested by the lesson plan author include the following:

  • Discussion: Introduce the folklore terms through class discussion.
  • Cooperative learning: Students work together to identify membership in folklore groups.

Aside from these two strategies, which are employed in various ways throughout the lesson, the teacher does not single out any other instructional strategies. Presumably leaving this choice open to teachers who use this lesson enables the teacher to tailor the instructional strategies to those that work best for his/her students.


Students will need access to a computer in order to listen to the audio. The audio recordings on the Web site provided in the lesson are important media selected for the lesson. Other media that are provided are links to NEH-approved Web sites designed to help students complete the lesson (see Selected EDSITEment Websites [sic] provided at the end of the lesson for a comprehensive list.


The lesson plan writer provides materials in the form of several handouts in PDF format. The handouts are designed to accompany parts of the lesson, including learning folklore terms and resources on Hurston's anthropological studies.


The rationale for using the technology, media, and materials is that if students are comparing Hurston's work as a folklorist with her work as a novelist, they will need access to the information and recordings in order to accomplish the objective. In order to complete the activity, they will need to be able to use the folklore terms described in the materials, and they will need to relate background information provided about the author to her work.


The technology, media, and materials are aligned with the stated objectives and standards. The information provided in the materials is accurate; the historical nature of the assignment does not require that the materials be current. Some of the direct links do not work, but the information can be found at the Web site (for example, direct links to the songs do not work, but the items can be found using a search of the site where the songs are collected). The language used is appropriate for high school some of the work songs on the Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections Web site contain coarse language, but the instructor could easily discourage students from listening to those songs by providing direct links to the songs he/she does want students to use. The interest level and engagement in the lesson is apt to be high for students who are interested in history and African American culture. The technical quality of the technology, media, and materials is high. The technology, media, and materials are easy to use. The technology, media, and materials are mostly bias-free: the folklore collections are provided as historical document; however, Hurston does comment on some of the pieces she shares. Her commentary could be viewed as having a small amount of bias. No user guide for the technology, media, and materials is provided aside from the directions given in the lesson plan; however, the materials can be used easily without such guidance.


The lesson plan offers extensive guidance for utilizing and preparing the technology, media, and materials for use in the form of a section entitled "Preparing to Teach This Lesson." The lesson plan could be tailored by teachers to be explicit with regards to expectations in order to prepare the learners. The lesson is constructed of mainly learner-centered learning activities such as class discussion and cooperative learning, but as explicit directions with regards to instructional strategies are vague, the lesson could be tailored to include teacher-centered learning experiences as well.


Students must be actively mentally engaged for each activity in this lesson. While no explicit direction is given toward providing feedback prior to formal assessment, the lesson could be tailored by the individual teacher to allow for feedback. Students will engage in practice of new knowledge or skills in the transcription portion of the lesson, using audio technology to support this activity.


An extension activity provides for an authentic assessment which asks students to apply what they have learned about folklore collection by composing stories that draw on their own folklore traditions. The assessment to the lesson also asks students to apply their understanding of folklore to Hurston's novel, setting the novel in a different context. In my opinion, in order to achieve the desired results described in the lesson's guiding question, the students would have to complete the extension activity.

Smaldino, S. E., Lowther, D. L., & Russell, J.D. (2008). Instructional technology and media for learning (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.