Lesson 1

Unit 3: Ethnography of Communication
WEEK 1: Community, Culture, Ethnography
Lesson 1
Community, Culture, Ethnography
Objective: Students will be introduced to this unit, and gain a deeper understanding of the
concepts of culture, community, ethnography, speech community, and what part language
plays in all of those. (Shortened class).
 List of different factors/variables for students to form groups/communities (listed
here in plans)
 Unit 3 Syllabus (Handout3.1_Unit3Syllabus.pdf)
 Power Point (Unit3_Lesson1_PPT.pptx)
 Ethnography Project Overview (Handout3.2_ProjectOverview.pdf)
 Shalts 2009 Reading (Reading3.1_Shalts2009.pdf)
 Shalts 2009 Reading Guide (Handout3.3_Shalts2009ReadingGuide.pdf)
 (Due on day of Lesson 3)
1) Introduction (3-4 minutes)
(All quoted text blocks are suggestions of things to say, but do not have to be followed
exactly, or even at all.)
Verbally transition from Unit 2 to Unit 3: "In the last Unit, we looked at language in relation
to individual identity and personal histories. In this Unit, we will be looking at language in
relation to communities; how groups of people use language and the meaning they give to
2) Activity: Forming Groups/Forming Communities (20 minutes)
This exercise (in combination with the PowerPoint and discussion) is designed
to get students thinking about how communities are formed. The main goals are the
 To co-construct definitions of community and culture with students.
 To help students reach an understanding of what types of factors and variables are key
in forming groups communities.
 To develop an understanding of shared knowledge and shared practices as culture.
A. Have the list of criteria for forming groups/communities on it. Some criteria will work to
form the basis of different communities, some criteria will merely form groups of people.
B. Ask students to divide themselves into groups according to the criteria you present to
them: "OK, so we're going to do a quick activity to get us up and moving, and thinking about
what makes a community, what is community. Is this class a community? Are there smaller
communities within this community? Everyone who is on the baseball team, come up to the
front of the classroom. Everyone who is on the soccer team. Are these communities?
Everyone who got drank coffee this morning, come up to the front of the classroom, etc. Is
this a community? Why, why not?"
C. Make sure to write the criteria on the board as it is said, in order to serve as reference
points for the post-activity discussion.
Ideas for criteria:
 You drank coffee this morning.
 You got up on the left side of the bed this morning.
 Your write with your left/right hand.
 You're wearing socks.
 You have Vans on.
 You like chocolate ice cream. You like vanilla ice cream.
 You like peanut butter.
 You have a dog.
 You play for the school's baseball team.
 You play for the school's soccer team.
 You are in a band.
 You skateboard regularly/surf regularly.
 You're a girl/boy.
 You're a junior/senior.
 You're from the high school's hometown.
 You're in youth group.
 You belong to a church.
D. Follow-Up Discussion and PowerPoint: (Unit3_Lesson1_PPT.pptx)
What makes a community? Define community with students by walking through their
understandings of the activity. Ask students which of these groups, if any, they thought
formed a community of people. Mark these categories on the board. Then ask what
differentiates these groups from the other groups that don't form communities.
What is the difference between a group of people and a community of people?
What types of factors and variables do communities form around?
Ask students to highlight what factors formed the basis of the communities: common
interests, age, common goal, native language, ethnicity, geographic factors, shared
knowledge, practices, etc. Contrast these with the factors that didn't form communities:
common clothing, common possessions, etc.
So how can we define community? Scaffold students' discussion towards the idea of
community as a group of people with a shared set of activities, practices, beliefs, and social
structures. Talk about how even within a small community, such as a class of students, there
can be smaller communities, such as groups of friends, students who are in a band together,
students who are on certain sports teams... and that all of these small communities make up
larger communities, such as their high school and hometown. What kind of knowledge and
practices do these communities share? What do you share with your friends? With your sports
team? List examples of communities. Shared knowledge and practices make a shared
Celebrate student answers and introduce the next unit and project by connecting it to the
activity... "In the next unit you are going to be researching how language is used by different
communities and cultures, so it's good that you are already thinking about what communities
are and which you are a part of."
4) Introduce Ethnography Project (10-15 minutes)
Continue PowerPoint, going over the outline for the final project. Tell them not to worry, as
we will work together through each step of the research process. Distribute Ethnography
Project Overview and explain about the class, project, and mini assignments that go into the
big one. Definitely ask for questions.
5) Assign HW (5 minutes)
Ask them to already have picked research groups by tomorrow, come ready to brainstorm
ideas of field sites for tomorrow.
Hand out reading assignment (Reading3.1_Shalts2009.pdf) and reading comprehension
questions (Handout3.3_Shalts2009ReadingGuide.pdf) due on day of Lesson 3.