Line of Inquiry
Why are Congo Square and the people that gathered there important to New Orleans history and culture?
Teaching Strategy

Congo Square History: A Gathering Place - The Significance of Gathering
8th-12th Grades

Explore Which of these audio and visual resources will activate imagination and draw students into this investigation?

What Does Congo Square Mean to Me?

Asia Rainey, Writer/Spoken Word Performance Artist:

Congo Square: the people, their music, the songs and influence on jazz. Featuring commentary by Wynton Marsalis and Gerald Early.  


Luther Gray // History of Congo Square from Positive Vibrations Foundation on Vimeo.

Positive Vibrations Foundation: Luther Gray  


Engage What activities will lead students into finding answers through this line of inquiry?

Activity One

Before beginning work with students, be sure to review the Description included in the links section of this Teaching Strategy.

1. Ask students to read the Description and watch the links in the Video section of this Teaching Strategy.

2. Working in small groups, ask students to:

  • Consider – Who were some of the people that gathered in Congo Square?
  • Map – From which regions of Africa and the Caribbean did the people who gathered in Congo Square come?
  • Draw Conclusions – How did the people who gathered in Congo Square impact the development of New Orleans and the United States? Cite evidence from the Description, the video, and your own on- and off-line investigations.


Activity Two

1. Through a class discussion, ask students to consider:

  • What are some popular places or events where people gather? (e.g., cafeteria, park, concerts, school, holidays)?
  • How do these gatherings shape society?
  • How could these gatherings improve our world?

2. Explain to students that they are going to take on the role of an ethnographer: an anthropologist who deals with the scientific description of specific human cultures. Working in small groups, ask students to conduct an ethnographic study of a specific gathering within their own communities. Through observation, oral interviews, visual documenting, and library or online research, students will collect and synthesize information, and then share their findings with the class.

3. Students should choose how they want to present their work: in the form of oral presentations, short films or stories.

Connect How do these investigations support other academic goals and objectives?

Curricular Connections

Literacy – Speaking and Listening:

  • Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.2

  • Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade-appropriate topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1
  • Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4
  • Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.5
Reflect & Assess How will you know what your students have learned? back to top

Sample Reflection or Assessment

1. Listen, and visually assess, student ability to listen to and answer questions in relation to the written and visual materials

2. Create a rubric to record and measure student progress. Possible ratings may include:

  • 4: Student demonstrates skill in active listening, comprehends material consistently, and applies learning in new ways.
  • 3: Student demonstrates active listening and comprehends material most of the time.
  • 2: Student has difficulty comprehending material, but demonstrates some success with extra assistance.
  • 1: Student gives little effort and has difficulty listening and comprehending material.