How can I begin incorporating local culture into my classroom?

Wisconsin Teachers of Local Culture empowers educators to teach about local culture.  A goal of WTLC is for students to understand their own culture and develop respect for other cultures.  Local culture has connections to all aspects of the curriculum and WTLC supports using a variety of methods to incorporate local culture.

In this section of the web site, you can find ways to GET STARTED, look at PROJECTS other teachers have done, and get some ideas for LESSONS you can do in your classroom


Getting Started 


How does a person find his or her way into local culture? How does one learn to identify local culture? How does a teacher get started with local culture work with a class? This section suggests some ways to begin to incorporate local culture into the classroom.

You can also download this PDF for a printable version of how to begin incorporating your community's local culture into your teaching.


Curricula and Lesson Plans

Take a look at these sample curricula and lesson plans. (Text forthcoming from Ruth and Anne).


Teachers associated with Wisconsin Teachers of Local Culture have incorporated local culture pedagogy into their teaching.  Here are some examples:

Bridging Cultural Gaps between ESL Students and American Students

Barron High School: Teachers Kim Frandsen and Esa Kohi

A Barron High School ESL project had Somali, Kenyan, Mexican and American students talking to each other about their cultures. Displaced by a civil war beginning in 1991, Somali refugees have moved to the Twin Cities in large numbers. Many have continued on to Barron to work in the Jennie'O Turkey Store. The population of Barron is now about 15% Somali, a big change for this small town. This lesson was developed by Barron Area School District's ESL coordinator Kim Frandsen and ESL aide Esa Kohi to bridge cultural divides between students.

Dane County Cultural Tour

Explore the rural and urban cultural dimensions of Dane County through this extensive website, a product of a year-long project by Mark Wagler's 4th/5th grade class.

Family Treasures, Family Pottery

This 3rd grade art project in Barron was based on the idea that every family has items that embody family culture.

Hmong Cultural Tour

This website documents their exploration of Hmong communities throughout Wisconsin by a Madison 4th/5th grade class.

Music and Culture

Shorewood High School Spanish language students connect with local Latino culture.

Outdoor Project Facility Development

Harshaw 2nd graders used local culture to design a structure for their outdoor classroom.

Park Street Cultural Tour

Madison 4th/5th grade students document the cultures of Park Street, the major thoroughfare in their school’s neighborhood.

Project M.O.S.T. (Multicultural Ongoing Student Training) Exploring Delavan

Delavan-Darien Middle School students study Delavan’s local culture to understand and appreciate diversity in the school and community.

Rhinelander Cultural Tour 2004

Kristin Larsen and 5th grade students developed a cultural tour of Rhinelander.

Rhinelander Cultural Tour 2005

6th graders developed a second cultural tour of Rhinelander.

Traditional Birdhouses

Harshaw 3rd graders talked to local residents with knowledge of the Northwoods to help them build birdhouses appropriate to their area.

Local Culture and Identity in the Upper Midwest

Many papers, slide shows and videos created by UW-Madison students studying such local culture icons as the Friday night fish fry, lefse, and Sheepshead.


Local culture provides natural opportunities for inter-disciplinary lessons, curriculum units and projects.  Local culture has connections to all aspects of the curriculum, including:

  • art, music, theater
  • geography, history, sociology, economics, political science, psychology, anthropology, folklore
  • reading, writing, speaking, listening
  • foreign languages, English as a second language
  • media and technology, international education
  • natural history and environmental education

By uncovering the connections between local culture and the curriculum, teachers can create integrated lessons that are linked with academic standards and that allow broad contextualization of specific knowledge.  By examining various local cultures in Wisconsin, teachers can address social tensions and take advantage of cultural opportunities that arise from changing demographics in their communities. 



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