objectives materials technology background activities assessment resources

Louisiana Voices Educator's Guide  
Getting Started With This Guide  
Study Guide Summary  
Outline of the Study Guide  
Study Unit I Defining Terms  
Study Unit II Fieldwork Basics  
Study Unit III Discovering the Obvious: Our Lives as "The Folk"  
Study Unit IV The State of Our Lives: Being a Louisiana Neighbor  
Study Unit V Oral Traditions--Swapping Stories  
Study Unit VI Louisiana's Musical Landscape  
Study Unit VII Material Culture-The Stuff of Life  
Study Unit VIII The Worlds of Work and Play  
Study Unit IX The Seasonal Round and Life Cycles  
Educator's Links  
Louisiana Voices Milestones  
Educator's Guide Glossary  
Educator's Guide Credits
Educator's Opportunities For Professional Development  
Louisiana Folklife website

Louisiana Folklife Program

Louisiana's Living

            Traditions: Articles, Photos and Virtual Exhibits about Louisiana Folklife  

Unit II Outline:

Fieldwork Basics Overview

Classroom Applications of Fieldwork Basics

Lesson 1: Getting Positioned for Fieldwork

Lesson 2: The Practice Interview (this page)

Lesson 3: Interviewing a Community Guest

Lesson 4: Terms in the Field

Lesson 5: Making Use of Fieldwork

Unit II Resources


Unit II
Classwork Applications of Fieldwork Basics

Lesson 2 The Practice Interview

I am always seeking for most of the older [Chitimacha basket] designs. I feel that this is a way of preserving the natural history of my culture. My basket weaving provides a better living for my family.

—Melissa Darden Brown, St. Mary Parish

Grade Levels


Curriculum Areas

English Language Arts, Social Studies


Purpose of Lesson

Students are introduced to the interview process by interviewing each other in pairs using a name game.


Lesson Objectives/Louisiana Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Foundation Skills

  1. Students learn how to formulate and ask effective interview questions.
    ELA-4-M4  Speaking and listening for a variety of audiences (e.g., classroom, real-life, workplace) and purposes (e.g., awareness, concentration, enjoyment, information, problem solving). (1, 2, 4, 5)

    ELA-7-M2 Problem solving by using reasoning skills, life experiences, accumulated knowledge, and relevant available information. (1, 2, 4)
  2. Students identify, locate, select, and use resource tools to help in collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing information.
    ELA-5-M6 Locating, gathering, and selecting information using graphic organizers, outline, note taking, summarizing, interviewing, and surveying to produce documented texts and graphics. (1, 3, 4)

    ELA-4-M5 Listening and responding to a wide variety of media (e.g., music, TV, film, speech). (1, 3, 4, 5)
  3. Students practice interviewing skills.
    H-1A-M6 Conducting research in efforts to answer historical questions. (1, 2, 3, 4)

    ELA-2-M5 Recognizing and applying literary devices (e.g., figurative language, symbolism, dialogue). (1, 4)

Time Required

5 to 7 class periods



Construction paper for name plates. Provide a Field Kit -- For Teachers for each student and/or team and students' Interview Folder -- For the Teachers. If you plan to do the activities in the Explorations and Extensions section, students will need additional Interview Checklists. Decide whether you will show Sample Fieldnotes: Teen Memories of Grade School Traditions on a big screen in the classroom or need to make copies for students. Print and duplicate the Worksheets and Assessment Tools listed below.


Technology Connections

Internet Resources

Conducting an Interview Essay

Discovering Our Delta: A Learning Guide to Community Research

Language Arts Lesson: Posing Good Interview Questions

Indivisible, Educator's Guide, Duke Center for Documentary Studies

Learning From Your Community

Sample Fieldnotes: Teen Memories of Grade School Traditions

Louisiana Folklife Bibliography Search for videos

Louisiana Music: A Select List

Adaptation Strategies

Improving Listening Skills, in Fieldwork Basics

Taking Notes, in Fieldwork Basics

Photography, in Fieldwork Basics

Audio Recording, in Fieldwork Basics

Videography, in Fieldwork Basics

Ethics, in Fieldwork Basics


Student Worksheets

Interview Folder -- For the Teacher (for teachers)

Interview Folder -- List of Contents (for students)

Interview Checklist

Oral Release Form

Written Release Form

Audio Log

Photo Log

Notetaking Worksheet

Insider / Outsider Worksheet

Field Kit -- For Teachers

Field Kit List of Contents (for students)

Careers in Music - Notetaking

Performance and Video Notetaking Worksheet

That's a Good Question Worksheet

Fact-based, Open-ended, and Follow-up Questions Worksheet

How Not to Conduct an Interview

The Reluctant Guest


Assessment Tools

Interview Checklist

Conducting an Interview Evaluation

Fieldwork Rubric


Evaluation Tools/Opportunities


  1. Notetaking Worksheets
  2. Fact-Based, Open-ended, & Follow-up Questions Worksheets
  3. Interview Checklist
  4. Fieldwork Rubric



  1. Conducting an Interview Checklist
  2. Name plates
  3. Conducting an Interview Evaluation



  1. Name plates
  2. Name plate summaries
  3. Journals and/or Notetaking Worksheets


Background Information for the Teacher

Before students interview in a formal setting, practicing with each other—and with you—in the classroom will prepare them. It's one thing simply to hold a conversation; it's another to prepare a list of questions, turn on an audio recorder, make notes, take photographs, and ask for permission forms to be signed! Practicing informally allows students to become more comfortable and capable with the mechanics of holding an interview.

Modeling and Practicing

Modeling and practicing interviewing and using equipment are crucial to successful fieldwork. Even experienced folklorists at times find their photos underexposed, recorder batteries dead, or videos dubbed over. This is harder that it first appears! And interviewing is more unnerving than it seems, so practicing will reduce butterflies, improve diction and listening skills, and build confidence. Try a couple of techniques, such as asking students to critique your model interview of a student or another teacher, pairing students off to take turns questioning and answering, using the scripts below to prompt student critiques, and reporting on interviews conducted at home. Through practice, students learn to improve their questionnaires, listen to responses; follow up interesting leads, and share stories of their own to give the Interviewee some examples and "prime the pump" to elicit answers.

This lesson offers a model of good interviewing in Sample Fieldnotes: Teen Memories of Grade School Traditions. For two scripts that students may act out in class to help them become aware of ineffective interviewing skills, see How Not to Conduct an Interview and The Reluctant Guest. Discovering Our Delta: A Learning Guide to Community Research includes a 26-minute video that follows five students from the Mississippi Delta as they conduct research on their communities.

Consider your students, curriculum, and community as you design the practice interviewing and fieldwork activities for your students. Adapt the steps and tools that you think will work best for each project you undertake. For suggestions see the chart of fieldwork activities in Louisiana Voices included in the Unit II Classroom Applications of Fieldwork Basics Introduction. Consider introducing students to folklore and fieldwork through Unit III Discovering the Obvious: Ourselves as the "Folk" which focuses on children's, school, and family folklore. This approach reinforces to students that everyone has folklore--including themselves.

At times you may want students to use a short, casual approach to gather games, stories, or songs from other students and adults; at other times you can teach higher-level inquiry skills, audiovisual equipment use, or technology and embark on more detailed fieldwork. For example, you may choose to hone students' listening and notetaking skills, using only a notepad and pencil for some interviews. Or you may teach high-end technology through videography, digital cameras, and the Internet. Consider your school's resources, your students' abilities, and your curriculum. Students, of course, can also help to decide what tools they would like to use and how detailed they would like the process to be. The student products that result from interview fieldwork will both influence the steps and tools you choose and be influenced by them. See Photography, Audio Recording, and Videography for points to consider about different kinds of equipment you may choose to use. Also see Indivisible, Educator's Guide by the Duke Center for Documentary Studies for useful activities for working with photographs and taking documentary photos. Also review Taking Notes and Ethics. Notetaking is a sophisticated, multi-task process that usually doesn't come naturally. Most students, especially young ones, need to be taught how to take notes. Though many interviews will be recorded, students should also learn the "old-fashioned" way for times when that may not be possible or feasible.


To Prepare

Check that the Field Kit -- For Teachers has all necessary equipment and materials. Talk to your library media specialist to see what equipment the school can provide. If it is impossible to arrange for an audio recorder and/or camera for each pair of students, then provide Journals or steno pads for handwritten notes. Place students' Interview Folder -- For the Teacher in an easily accessible spot.


4th and 8th Grade Activities

Part 1: Interviewing

  1. Have students reflect on the Photograph / Special Object exercise done in Unit II Lesson 1. Tell them that what they did was an interview because they were observing a situation, asking questions, and forming conclusions.

  2. Ask students where else they have heard interviews. Perhaps on TV? Why was it "good?" What kinds of questions were asked? Ask them if they could interview any famous person in the world today, who would it be? What questions would they like to ask that person? Tell them that interviewing someone is a skillful and artful task that takes practice. This lesson will give them some necessary practice before they invite a guest to their classroom or go outside the classroom to interview someone.

  3. Begin this lesson by reading and discussing Sample Fieldnotes: Teen Memories of Grade School Traditions. Show it on a big screen or print it out for students. This sample provides an excellent model for the entire interview process, and especially for notetaking. Generate discussions about it, and make students aware of the key areas that will be covered in this, and other lessons.

    Notetaking is a sophisticated, multi-task process that usually doesn't come naturally. Most students, especially young ones, need to be taught how to take good notes. Although many interviews will be recorded, students should also learn the "old-fashioned" way. Access Taking Notes for strategies to use if your students need to learn this skill.

  4. Tell students that before they conduct an interview with someone outside of the classroom, they will practice with each other. The purpose of this worksheet is for students to experience the value of listening, courtesy, and preparation in conducting an interview. Select two students to play the roles of "Reporter" and "Guest," on the worksheet How Not to Conduct an Interview. Give each a copy of the script and ask them to read their assigned parts. Tell students that the reporter is interviewing a tourist. After the interview, ask the class to explain what was wrong with the reporter's approach. Write the responses on the board as students offer them.

  5. Use The Reluctant Guest to show students the value of asking questions that elicit meaningful responses. In this activity, the teacher should play the part of the reluctant guest. A team of students should act as reporters at a press conference and ask the printed questions. Tell them that they may ask you follow-up questions based on your answers. You should answer the questions offering as little information as possible, using one-word answers, for example. The rest of the class should take notes on your answers, using their Journals or the Notetaking Worksheet, and they should also critique the reporters' good points and mistakes. After the exercise, reflect with students on the Interviewer's task of drawing out information from the Interviewee. Have them write responses on the right-hand side of their Journals or Notetaking Worksheets. What does an Interviewer have to do to ask good follow-up questions?
  1. Before students actually interview each other, work with them on asking good questions. Use That's a Good Question Worksheet to help them get started. Use the Fact-Based, Open-ended, & Follow-up Questions Worksheet to explain and review the different kinds of questions. Explain that before an interview, they'll need to make a list of fact-based and open-ended questions. During the interview, they'll need to listen closely to be able to ask follow-up questions. Stress that the best interviews depend heavily on follow-up questions because they are drawing out what the Interviewee wants to say. In this activity, students will learn that certain questions elicit certain depths of knowledge.

  2. Once you believe that students are able to ask each other questions in a practice interview, talk to them about how to operate an audio recorder and camera. Distribute the Field Kit -- For Teachers and briefly review how to use each item. Review Photography, Audio Recording, and Videography, which explains the different kinds of equipment. You should stress the importance of being properly prepared with working equipment.

Practicing Interviewing With The Name Game

  1. To have students practice interviewing with each other, play a "name game." First place students in pairs. Assign one student the role of Interviewer; the other, the role of Interviewee. Have each student playing the role of Interviewee make a name plate by folding a piece of construction paper in half, length-wise, so that it stands up. Have them write their name on one side then hand their name plates to their Interviewers. Tell the Interviewers that they will be interviewing their partners about their first and last names. Use the Naming Traditions Worksheet to get ideas for questions.

  2. Remind students to consider the Interviewer's insider and outsider positions. (Consider positioning in each of these lessons because it is such an easy task to forget. Students should be reminded of their relationship to the Interviewee because it guides them in formulating questions.) If a student is partnering with a good friend, chances are s/he already knows a story about the friend's name. Review the Insider / Outsider Worksheets from Lesson 1, or have them complete new ones if they are having difficulty with this concept. Reflect with them on how this might affect the interview: Are there some questions they don't have to ask because they already know the answer? Will there be information they won't know because they are outsiders?

  3. Brainstorm with the class about all the possible questions they can ask about a name. Have them consult the Conducting an Interview Essay for ideas if necessary. List the questions suggested by students on the board and tell the students to use these topics as a guide for formulating their interview questions. Encourage them to use phrases such as "tell me about" to elicit rich responses. Tell them they are going for the STORIES that can be discovered by asking questions about someone's name.

  4. Review the list of questions that the class derived and put "FB" next to fact-based questions, and "OE" next to open-ended questions. Remind them that they'll want to ask some "follow-up" questions based on what they hear, and these should be labeled "FQ" on the board.

  5. Distribute the Interview Folder -- For the Teacher and Field Kit -- For Teachers to students. Have Interviewers conduct a test of the recorder(s) by reading the Oral Release Form into recorder and recording Interviewees responses. Then stop the recorder to listen to sound quality and make needed adjustments.

  6. After the preliminary checks, allow students to start the interview, using questions generated on the board. Allow 20-30 minutes for both interviews, 10-15 minutes each. Ask the Interviewer to jot down keywords, special language, terms, ideas, and questions that they find interesting, important, or those they need to explore more on the back of the Interviewee's name plate. Remind them to take pictures of the Interviewee, if possible, and have them sign the Written Release Form.

  7. Have the partners work together to evaluate their interviews using the Interview Checklist. Also have them fill out the Audio Log and Photo Log, and label the tape with the name of the Interviewer and Interviewee, the place, and the date. Have them store all these in their Interview Folder -- For the Teacher for now. In Lesson 5 they will learn how to use the Archive Folder for storing these materials.

  8. Once the interview is complete, ask each Interviewer to introduce the Interviewee to the class and explain the "story" behind his/her name. Then ask the Interviewee to comment: Does he/she believe the Interviewer got it "right?" Is there any additional information to add?

  9. Reflect on this interview activity with your students. What did they find harder than they expected? What did they learn about their partner? What surprised you, intrigued you, stirred or disturbed you? Have students write follow-up notes in their Journals.

  10. Have students read over their Conducting an Interview Evaluation and check off the steps they have learned in this lesson. If desired, check them yourself and administer grades.

  11. If you are using the Fieldwork Rubric to grade students at the end of the unit, review it with them now and ask them to self-evaluate their progress.


4th and 8th Grade Explorations and Extensions

  1. Have students switch interviewing roles: the partner who interviewed will now be the Interviewee. Complete the process described above. Once each student has taken notes on the back of a name plate, these name plates can be used as a form of assessment: Did the Interviewer ask fact-based, open-ended, and follow-up questions?

  2. Select two students to "model" the Name Game interview in front of the class. Have the rest of the class fill out the Interview Checklist as the two students model the interview. After the interview is finished, go over the list with the class to discuss what was done well and what could be improved.

  3. For students having difficulty developing good questions, have them visit Language Arts Lesson: Posing Good Interview Questions and Writing Interview Questions to learn more about the subject.

  4. Interview a family member about his or her name, using similar questions that were used in the classroom activity.

  5. Have the Interviewer/Interviewee partners work together to produce a summary paragraph of the Interviewee's name. Also, have them take photographs of each other and submit the paragraph/photos as a partner project. Final products is more developed in Lesson 5 of this unit.

  6. For a related lesson, see Unit III Lesson 3 Activity 1 Naming Traditions.


Unit II Resources

Unit II Outline


National Endowment for

            the Arts.

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