K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • describe aspects of Appalachian culture in the early 1900s. Students will analyze ways that language and dialect have changed over the years.
  • become acquainted with primary source material through the use of Our Southern Highlanders.
  • identify key linguistic elements that were peculiar to Southern Appalachian dialect and early 20th century authors.
  • analyze key customs and traits that were unique to the Southern Appalachians.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

90 minutes


Technology resources

An overhead projector & blank transparencies.


Teachers should become familiar with the information on dialect located on the websites listed and have read the chapter on Bear Hunting from Our Southern Highlanders.


  1. Explain to students that language evolves over time. The teacher should give examples of lingo that was common in her high school years. Then ask the students for a few examples-just a few. Then lead the students into a discussion about how writing has evolved. Discuss the difference between formal and informal writing. Ask students to give one or two examples of writing informally - i.e. a note to a friend vs. an essay. Then discuss Instant Messaging or IM-ing lingo.
  2. Divide the class into manageable groups of 4-5 students. Each group should select a scribe for the group. Students then will brainstorm IM lingo or terminology. Students should also list common phrases or words that have a peculiar meaning for today’s time but if read by someone 100 years from now might seem confusing.
  3. Next bring the class back together and discuss the results: a member from each group may write a few of the examples on the board or a transparency.
  4. Now distribute the excerpts of “Bear Hunt” to the students. Students are to read silently the selection and should underline words they do not understand. Remind students that dialect is often written phonetically.
  5. Next the students should get back into their groups. Each group should compile a list of 10 words or phrases that were unique to the Southern Appalachians. Next, each group should compile a list of 5 phrases from the author that characterize the writing from that time period.
  6. Bring the groups back together and discuss the selection.


  • Students may be evaluated on their class and group participation.
  • Grading for group work may be done on an individual basis by having each student write their name on a slip of paper and a 100 beside it. Each time you have to call on a student to get back on task deduct 20 points from the 100. The teacher should mark out 100 and write an 80 for the first infraction and so on down the list.
  • Optional closure activity: Have students write a one-two page essay describing and activity using teenage dialect and lingo.

Supplemental information


This lesson was created in conjunction with a seminar on Horace Kephart offered by the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and NC ECHO.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • History/Social Studies

        • Grades 6-8
          • 6-8.LH.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
        • Grades 9-10
          • 9-10.LH.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 11

  • Goal 4: The learner will critically analyze text to gain meaning, develop thematic connections, and synthesize ideas.
    • Objective 4.01: Interpret meaning for an audience by:
      - examining the functions and the effects of narrative strategies such as plot, conflict, suspense, point of view, characterization, and dialogue.
      - interpreting the effect of figures of speech (e.g., personification, oxymoron) and the effect of devices of sound (e.g., alliteration, onomatopoeia).
      - analyzing stylistic features such as word choice and links between sense and sound.
      - identifying ambiguity, contradiction, irony, parody, and satire.
      - demonstrating how literary works reflect the culture that shaped them.

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 11–12 — United States History

  • Goal 9: Prosperity and Depression (1919-1939) - The learner will appraise the economic, social, and political changes of the decades of "The Twenties" and "The Thirties."
    • Objective 9.02: Analyze the extent of prosperity for different segments of society during this period.
    • Objective 9.04: Describe challenges to traditional practices in religion, race, and gender.

Grade 8

  • Goal 5: The learner will evaluate the impact of political, economic, social, and technological changes on life in North Carolina from 1870 to 1930.
    • Objective 5.02: Examine the changing role of educational, religious, and social institutions in the state and analyze their impact.
    • Objective 5.04: Identify technological advances, and evaluate their influence on the quality of life in North Carolina.