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Memo to Parents Description of Tour

Dane County Cultural Tour


TO: Room 202 Parents

FROM: Mark Wagler and the Planning Committee


The largest project in Room 202 this year will be our Dane County Cultural Tour (DCCT). Here’s a detailed description, to amplify what you’ve already heard at Parent Night, from teacher memos, and from students. Please feel free to voice concerns and ask questions about our plans so far.



To learn skills and knowledge in social studies and language arts;

To document and present diverse cultures in Dane County;

To build and experience community in the classroom, among our families, and with other people in Dane County. 


CULTURAL FOCUS: Expressive culture of everyday life, such as storytelling, music, foodways, crafts, recreation, and celebrations.


MAJOR EVENT: March 4 through 7, a four-day bus tour around Dane County outside Madison. Please put this week on your family calendar. Although we were originally considering a 5-day trip, we have now decided to cut that back by a day. We chose early March because the next available week, given conflicts in school schedule and spring break, would have been April 8-11; that would not have given us enough time after the trip to complete our web site and book. Also, we want to avoid the busy soccer schedule many students have in April.



We are looking for an additional member or two for our planning committee which currently consists of parents Margaret Krome, Harriet Brown, James Young, and Wes and Jackie Meacham; consultants Anne Pryor (Wisconsin Arts Board) and Ruth Olson (Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures); and teacher Mark Wagler.

Last spring, at our family retreat at Upham Woods, a number of parents and I began talking about the possibility of taking a multi-day trip to help students gain a deeper knowledge of Wisconsin culture--and about having our family retreat in the fall, when it could have maximum impact on our classroom community. We contacted a number of parents, asking if they wanted to be a part of the planning process. After an exchange of phone calls and emails, two planning committees emerged, one to organize our family retreat at Folklore Village and the second to plan our Cultural Tour.

Throughout the summer, the DCCT committee met and corresponded to plan goals, programs, and logistics. After considerable discussion on the merits of trips to other locations in Wisconsin (especially to the northeast and southwest), we focused on Dane County. In August, Margaret and the committee submitted a grant to Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission; we received notification of funding in late October.



Document (and present to the classroom) various expressive cultural elements in our families;

Use media that give context for our study (books, web sites, videos, etc.);

Work with one or more 4th or 5th grade classrooms in Dane County;

Take a number of trips to observe and document culture;

Classroom presentations by community members;

Write reports and essays based on fieldwork notes and memory;

Select photos, drawings, and text for our web site and book;

Engage in independent inquiry projects.


MADISON DAY TRIPS:  While our four-day trip will take us to areas largely settled in the 19th century by immigrants from Germany, Norway, British Isles, and other European countries, our day trips will help us encounter culture groups who have more recently immigrated to Madison. We are especially interested in the cultures represented in our classroom. Our one-day outings also give us the opportunity to practice our documentation skills before we take our big trip. So far we have spent a half day or more

documenting the Wednesday version of the Dane County Farmers’ Market; and

documenting Hmong culture at Bayview Center.

I anticipate additional trips to focus on Mexican-American, African-American, Cambodian, Jewish, and other cultures. I also hope that one or more families will invite us to visit your household for 1/2 to 1 day to observe your family’s culture, as Anna’s parents did last year--contact me if interested.


COUNTY-WIDE FOUR-DAY TRIP: Our longer trip in March will immerse us in Dane County cultures. Here are current details about the trip, some of which will undoubtedly need to be changed.

We’ll be away from home for four days and three nights--from approximately 8:30 on Monday, March 4, to after dinner, approximately 7:30, on Thursday, March 7.

The program itinerary (people, sites, events to visit and document) is still being developed.

Recreation and freetime will be included each day.

Travel by school bus.

Lodging currently being arranged, but may include YMCA’s, camps, and/or churches.

Ingredients for breakfast and lunch will be sent along by parents; evening meals brought to our sites by parents. Funding agency does not allow meals to be included in our grant budget. Need a meals coordinator--help plan menus, coordinate volunteers, etc.

At least 2 adults will be with the class at all times (teacher and Anne Pryor); at times we’ll need up to 5 adults.


WEB PAGES & BOOK: We will create two final products at the end our project, with similar content but in different media. Both will present what we have learned about expressive cultures in Dane County and will be based on our documentation (observations, interviews, notes, sketches, photos, audio and video tapes):

The web pages will be developed by the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures using text and images created by students. The first of our pages is ready to be linked at as soon as I send out (and receive back from parents) a release form.

The book will be written and illustrated by students and produced with help from parents. It will be a small book--less than 100 pages--and be offered for sale locally.


COST & BUDGET: Our nearly $3,000 grant--plus $357 earned from our potholder project and expected sales of our book--will cover most but not all of our expenses. Although we won’t have a final budget for some time, the committee expects there will be a student fee to cover some expenses of the 4-day trip. As usual in this class, scholarships will be available. Cash expenses include transportation, lodging, stipends for presenters, supplies for documentation, book printing, etc. Many services are being offered in-kind (free) by the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures (web site and program development, fieldwork, and documentation), the Wisconsin Arts Board (program development, fieldwork, and documentation), and professional services from various parents including Harriet Brown (producing final book) and James Young (photography).

PARENT PARTICIPATION: Most important for our committee is to hear the concerns of parents. Feel free to contact us:

Mark Wagler,, 204-3300, notes to school

Anne Pryor,, 266-8106

Ruth Olson,, 262-8180                                                                  

We will send memos in school mail as we have more information, and occasional messages also by email. Thanks, also, to the many of you who have volunteered to help with our documentation and to accompany our field trips. We’ll let you know when specific tasks become clearer. Please return the following form.


Concerns regarding four-day trip or other parts of the Dane County Cultural Tour:




Questions regarding four-day trip or other parts of the Dane County Cultural Tour:




What I can contribute to the planning process:


Place a check by days (morning until dinner) and nights (dinner overnight to breakfast) you can accompany us on our four-day trip and question marks for times you maybe can accompany us:


Monday, March 4:                          days ____              nights ____

Tuesday, March 5:                         days ____              nights ____

Wednesday, March 6:            days ____              nights ____

Thursday, March 7:                         days ____


Student’s name _____________________  

Parent’s name __________________________