To get a sense of the qualities for which their assigned city is best known, groups may want to ask friends and family what places and events first come to mind when they think of that city. Groups may want to use this list of qualities as the basis of their ad, or, conversely, base their ad on qualities that may be less well known but are equally important. You could also find more information on the city on the internet or in travel guides available at the library.
You may want to give students an additional option: instead of choosing one of the five times shown on the map, they may want to imagine that they are one of the vampire characters in Ann Rice's popular series of novels and have "lived" in New Orleans throughout the entire time span shown in the map. Their letter -- which may be written to a fellow vampire -- would describe the many ways in which New Orleans has changed over the past two centuries.
You may want to introduce this activity by writing the names of the five categories on the board and asking students whether they can describe each musical style. Alternatively, you could test students' prior knowledge by playing brief clips of songs from each of the five categories and asking students to name the category in which each clip belongs.
Recipes can be found online or in cookbooks. You also may want to ask students to name some dishes for which your city or region is known, and to compare and contrast these with those of New Orleans.
You may want to devise other questions related to Mardi Gras in addition to (or in place of) those listed here.
For this activity, students should assume that all the people in their household survived the disaster and were able to move together to a new home, though this was not the case for many Katrina survivors.
An alternative activity would be to have students work in groups to compare and contrast Katrina's effects on New Orleans with the effects of the 1927 flood. Groups could be assigned to compare different aspects of the two disasters, such as the cause and extent of the flooding, the extent of the casualties and property damage, the government's response (or lack of it), and charges that the needs of the city's poor residents were not considered in the response to the disaster.
Remind students that this mock hearing is taking place in 1896, so all events that occurred more recently (such as the Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954) must be ignored.
To get the discussion started, you might ask the class what New Orleans might be like today if it had been settled entirely by one racial, ethnic, or national group. You also might use this discussion as a springboard for a discussion of how Hurricane Katrina could affect New Orleans' long-term future if large numbers of displaced African American residents do not return to the city.
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