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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  
Join The Community
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

Lesson 3: Interviewing a Community Guest

Lesson 4: Terms in the Field (this page)

Lesson 5: Making Use of Fieldwork

Unit II Resources


Unit II
Classwork Applications of Fieldwork Basics

Lesson 4 Teams in the Field

You do whatever step you can do. You may not be in time with the music, but you are enjoying yourself. That's the spirit of the traditional New Orleans [music].

--Lionel Batiste, Tremé Brass Band, Orleans Parish

Grade Levels


Curriculum Areas

English Language Arts, Social Studies


Purpose of Lesson

Students conduct team interviews outside the classroom, either within the school or beyond, as part of a fieldwork project.


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

  1. Students learn how to access information, solve problems, make decisions, and work as part of a team in preparation for fieldwork.
    ELA-2-M2 Using language, concepts, and ideas that show an awareness of the intended audience and/or purpose (e.g., classroom, real-life, workplace) in developing complex compositions. (1, 2, 4)

    ELA-4-M5 Listening and responding to a wide variety of media (e.g., music, TV, film, speech). (1, 3, 4, 5)

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

    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)
  2. Students develop search strategies for locating and accessing appropriate, relevant sources in the school library media center, community libraries and agencies, resource people, and others as appropriate.
    H-1A-M6 Conducting research in efforts to answer historical questions. (1, 2, 3, 4)

    H-1A-E3 Identifying and using primary and secondary historical sources to learn about the past. (1, 3, 4)

    ELA-5-M2 Locating and evaluating information sources (e.g., print materials, databases, CD-ROM references, Internet information, electronic reference works, community and government data, television and radio resources, audio and visual materials). (1, 3, 4, 5)

    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)

    H-1A-M4 Analyzing historical data using primary and secondary sources. (1, 2, 3, 4)

  3. Students use reasoning skills as they formulate questions, plan, predict, hypothesize, and speculate about the interviews.
    ELA-7-M2 Problem solving by using reasoning skills, life experiences, accumulated knowledge, and relevant available information. (1, 2, 4)

    ELA-7-M3 Analyzing the effects of an author's purpose and point of view. (1, 2, 4)

    ELA-1-M3 Reading, comprehending, and responding to written, spoken, and visual texts in extended passages. (1, 3, 4)

    ELA-1-M4 Interpreting texts with supportive explanations to generate connections to real- life situations and other texts (e.g., business, technical, scientific). (1, 2, 4, 5)

    H-1C-E4 Recognizing how folklore and other cultural elements have contributed to our local, state, and national heritage. (1, 3, 4)
  4. Students conduct interviews as part of fieldwork.
    H-1A-M6 Conducting research in efforts to answer historical questions. (1, 2, 3, 4)

    ELA-4-E6 Listening and responding to a wide variety of media (e.g., music, TV, film, speech). (1, 3, 4, 5)

    ELA-4-E7 Participating in a variety of roles in group discussions (e.g., active listener, contributor, discussion leader). (1, 4, 5)
  5. Students examine and reflect on the data they collected by categorizing, analyzing, evaluating, and comparing for bias, inadequacies, omissions, errors, and value judgments.
    H-1A-M3 Analyzing the impact that specific individuals, ideas, events, and decisions had on the course of history; (1, 2, 3, 4)

    H-1C-E4 Recognizing how folklore and other cultural elements have contributed to our local, state, and national heritage, (1, 3, 4)

    ELA-6-H4 Analyzing various genres as records of life experiences. (1, 2, 4, 5)

    ELA-2-M6 Writing as a response to texts and life experiences (e.g., letters, journals, lists).(1, 2, 4)

Time Required

5-8 class periods



Prepare Field Kit -- For Teachers for each team with all necessary equipment and materials. Prepare new Interview Folder -- For the Teachers, one for each team. Place students' Interview Folder -- For the Teacher in an easily accessible spot. Print and duplicate the Worksheets and Assessment Tools listed below.


Technology Connections

Internet Resources

Learning From Your Community

Suggestions for Folklife Fieldwork and Presentations: Folklife Genres

Letter to Parents and Caregivers

Why Take Fieldtrips?, from CampSilos, Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area

Louisiana Voices Outline

Adaptation Strategies

Documenting Maritime Folklife: An Introductory Guide

Documenting Quiltmaking


Student Worksheets

Field Kit -- For Teachers (for teachers)

Field Kit List of Contents (for students)

Interview Folder -- For the Teacher (for teachers)

Interview Folder -- List of Contents (for students)

Interview Checklist

Conducting an Interview Evaluation

Folklife Interview Form

Oral Release Form

Written Release Form

Audio Log

Photo Log

Transcribing an Interview Worksheet

Notetaking Worksheet

Individual Roles in the Field Worksheets

Writing About an Interview Worksheet

Insider / Outsider Worksheet

Fieldwork Checklist

Resources to Develop Questions

Naming Traditions Worksheet

That's a Good Question Worksheet

Suggested Interview Questions

Questions About a Place

Spirit of Place Worksheet

Questions for Traditional Musicians

Careers in Music - Interview Worksheet

Questions for Dancers

Recipe Interview Worksheet

Questions for Traditional Craft Artists

Occupational Fieldwork Worksheet

Occupational Fieldwork Survey

Occupational Glossary

Event Research Worksheet

Milestone Research Worksheet

Folk Remedy Collection Worksheet

Stories They Tell - Graveyard Data Collection Worksheet


Assessment Tools

Conducting an Interview Evaluation

Student Post-Interview Review Questions

Fieldwork Checklist

Fieldwork Rubric


Evaluation Tools/Opportunities


  1. Checklist for each role in Individual Roles in the Field Worksheet
  2. Conducting an Interview Evaluation - by students
  3. Interview Questions
  4. Fieldwork Checklist



  1. Conducting an Interview Evaluation - graded by teacher



  1. Background research
  2. Team fieldwork questions
  3. Interview questions
  4. Fieldnotes
  5. Audio recordings, photos, videos, and illustrations produced during interviews
  6. Writing About an Interview Worksheet
  7. Interview Folder -- For the Teacher
  8. Student Post-Interview Questions


Background Information for the Teacher

After completing Lessons 1, 2, and 3 of this unit, your students are ready to take their fieldworking skills outside the classroom. The primary goal of this lesson is to allow students to work in small teams to interview someone whose life experience can supplement a lesson you're teaching as part of fieldwork. But remember that the "field" can be as close as just outside your classroom! If you prefer not to have students leave campus, it is likely that the cafeteria staff, other faculty members, or the principal maintains traditions worthy of research since everyone has folklife traditions! One class discovered that the janitor was a walking stick carver. Another learned that the principal was a quilter and the coach sang in an a cappella gospel quartet, while another found that a cafeteria worker was renowned for her cakes and pies and the secretary was one of the town's few Acadian spinners and weavers.

In the guide to classroom video projects Learning From Your Community, folklorist Gail Matthews-DeNatale recommends letting students contribute significantly to fieldwork and product development. She says,

Perhaps the most important feature of a project like this is that the students play an integral and active role in all phases of the documentary and decision-making process. . . . Instructors may be tempted to modify the script to accommodate their own 'teacher aesthetic.' There is also a danger that the . . . product will become more important to the instructor or school than the learning process.

Her experience suggests that "it is better to conclude the project with a less-than-polished product that is entirely student-made than to create a 'perfect' video." Her comments are limited to video production, but they apply to any folklife project undertaken in the classroom.

When identifying a fieldwork project, the subject of your current curriculum unit should help to guide the students to a person to interview. If, for example, you are covering a social studies unit on coastal erosion, students could interview a trapper, fisherman, shrimper, or hunter. Get ideas from Thumbnail Sketches of Previous Student Projects or use the list of Suggestions for Folklife Fieldwork and Presentations: Folklife Genres. Most importantly, you want to design a project that allows students to make a significant contribution to both process and product.

For every fieldwork project, there are basic steps to follow:

  1. Select a site and a topic.
  2. Identify and line up Interviewees.
  3. Establish student teams and gather equipment and materials for each team.
  4. Conduct background research.
  5. Develop a list of questions to ask.
  6. Consider "insider" and "outsider" positions.
  7. Take appropriate forms in Field Kit -- For Teachers and Interview Folder -- For the Teacher.
  8. Conduct the interview and file materials.
  9. Record, photograph, process, and archive collected materials.
  10. Analyze findings and interpret their significance.
  11. Prepare a product to exhibit findings.
  12. Thank Interviewees and all who helped.
  13. Assess fieldwork and products.

The steps in the lesson will follow this sequence. The teacher does Steps 1 and 2 in this lesson, so they are in the To Prepare section. In later interviews, students can gradually take over these steps. This lesson covers Steps 3 through 8 and Lesson 5 covers Steps 9 through 13.

One important note: Instruct students at the very beginning of their fieldwork to keep every piece of paper associated with the project. In Unit II Lesson 5, they will process and archive these materials in an Archive Folder. For now, each student should file these materials in their Interview Folder -- For the Teacher.

Decide what curricular content and needs to integrate with a folklife fieldwork project and identify several topics and genres that student teams can research. If you are leaving campus, verify with your principal the fieldtrip guidelines for your school and send the Letter to Parents and Caregivers. Research background information on the subject to provide students with context. Arrange research time for students. Place Interview Folder -- For the Teacher and Field Kit -- For Teachers in an easily accessible spot.


To Prepare

Step 1 Select a Site and a Topic

Student teams could identify their own topic and place and arrange to do the interview and fieldwork during or after school. Ideally, students select the subject, site, and Interviewees and interview people in their own home or business. But this isn't always possible, especially if students do their interviews at the same time. You could select a site that relates to the subject you have chosen and ask the Interviewees to meet you there. This is an opportunity to partner with a local cultural group in a more meaningful way. A museum, historic site, or cultural center may help identify people who relate to their exhibits, collection, or theme. A church, mosque, or temple could identify members of their congregation who could speak about their traditions. A senior citizens center offers readily available Interviewees on local traditions. A local festival may be an opportunity, but be sure to arrange this in advance with both the Interviewees and the organizers since many artists, musicians, craftspeople, and food vendors are working and may not have time to be interviewed! The same is true for neighborhood businesses and restaurants. You will need to work around their busy times of the day.

Another approach is to document a place as outlined in Unit IV Lesson 3 Sense of Place. You could focus on a farm, dairy, seafood plant, orchard, or other business; a park, garden, zoo, government building, power plant, or wetlands research center — the possibilities are endless. Remember if it is not possible for students to leave the campus, use in-school alternatives such as interviewing long-term staff or volunteers; observing hallways, the cafeteria, playground, or library; or documenting school customs. See Unit III Lesson 2 The School - School Culture Across Louisiana for more guidance.

The website Why Take Fieldtrips by CampSilos, Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area has helpful suggestions and guidelines for taking students on an effective fieldtrip.

Step 2 Identify and Line Up Interviewees

If students will be identifying their own Interviewees, they should start by looking close to home, asking family, friends, and acquaintances. Other options are contacting an editor at a local newspaper, looking in the Yellow Pages, or calling the reference librarian at the school or local library. Take suggestions from the class about people in the students' communities who participate in a special cultural tradition (Mardi Gras, boucheries, Homecomings, Dinner-on-the-Ground, etc.), who have a skill that they have learned from their family or community (netmaking, cooking, etc.), or who do arts/crafts (carving, boatbuilding, etc.). Use Suggestions for Folklife Fieldwork and Presentations: Folklife Genres. They may also want to consider interviewing someone on the school staff, for example. Add your own suggestions to the list.

If you are working with a single site, coordinate with a key person to get help in identifying Interviewees. If you are documenting a business, start with employees, also consider someone more spontaneous and less predictable—such as a customer, volunteer, maintenance worker, or neighbor. Perhaps one of the students has a family member associated with the site. Give each team the name of the person they will be interviewing in advance along with their occupation and any other pertinent information.

If a specific product will be created with the findings, consider whether this will affect the interview. Do certain things need to be asked? Is better recording equipment needed to do a radio broadcast? Are photos or other visuals needed for the exhibit or PowerPoint?


4th and 8th Grade Activities

Step 3 Establish Student Teams and Gather Equipment and Materials

  1. Begin by reviewing all the steps that students have undertaken in previous lessons of Unit II. Tell students that they are now going to take their interviewing skills "into the field," which means that they will interview someone in the school or community.

    If you plan to use the Fieldwork Rubric to grade students at the end of the unit, review it with them now. Tell them that they will be assessed at the end of the unit on their ability to prepare carefully, practice needed skills, conduct fieldwork productively and accurately, process and archive materials properly, and present their findings. They can refer to the rubric as they work on Lessons 4 and 5 to be prepared for the evaluation.

  2. Form teams of four or five students and distribute Field Kit -- For Teachers to each. You probably want to use the same student teams formed in Unit II Lesson 3, although some changes may be needed. Ensure that each student has his/her Interview Folder -- For the Teacher for storing their materials during the fieldwork process.

  3. Assign roles in each team or have students choose. Ask them to locate the proper sheet for their role from the Individual Roles in the Field Worksheets and read them to make sure they understand what they must do and have all supplies and materials for their tasks.

  4. Modeling and practicing interviewing and using equipment are crucial to successful fieldwork. Provide one or more of the following activities for students to practice:
    • Have students critique your model interview of another student or teacher.
    • Have students practice interviewing at home, then report on their success or problems.
    • Pair off students and have them take turns questioning and answering. Encourage them to listen carefully to responses and use feedback to improve their questionnaires, follow-up interesting leads, share their own stories to give the Interviewee some examples, etc.
    • Schedule time for students to practice using the equipment they will be using for interviews. Refer to the Individual Roles in the Field Worksheets for specific tasks.

Step 4 Conduct Background Research

  1. Brainstorm about the possible cultural aspects associated with the selected site such as traditions, customs, special language, meaningful objects, legends, personal narratives, beliefs, body communications, and write important ideas on the board. Guide students in formulating questions. Review other Louisiana Voices units for more ideas about exploring a particular tradition. The Louisana Voices Outline includes lesson summaries, Content Standards addressed, worksheets, and rubrics.

  2. Have students research the topic and the site in the library or by contacting the site for background materials. Students can also check local historical societies or archives including family scrapbooks or photo albums. Remember: fieldwork is more than just the interview!

Step 5 Develop a List of Questions To Ask

  1. Have students work in their teams to generate possible questions to ask their Interviewees using the Folklife Interview Form. This form provides the basic questions to ask anyone plus a few more about likely topics. Coming up with the questions is often more difficult than expected. Use That's a Good Question Worksheet to get started. The other worksheets and lists below will help students refine their questions. Note that many are used more extensively in other units as indicated.

    That's a Good Question Worksheet

    Suggested Interview Questions

    Questions About a Place (from Unit IV)

    Spirit of Place Worksheet (from Unit IV)

    Questions for Traditional Musicians (from Unit II)

    Careers in Music - Interview Worksheet (from Unit VI)

    Questions for Dancers (from Unit VI)

    Recipe Interview Worksheet (from Unit VII)

    Questions for Traditional Artists (from Unit VII)

    Occupational Fieldwork Worksheet (from Unit VIII)

    Occupational Fieldwork Survey (from Unit VIII)

    Occupational Glossary (from Unit VIII)

    Event Research Worksheet (from Unit IX)

    Milestone Research Worksheet (from Unit IX)

    Folk Remedy Collection Worksheet (from Unit IX)

    Stories They Tell - Graveyard Data Collection Worksheet (from Unit IX)

    If students are researching maritime traditions, see Documenting Maritime Folklife: An Introductory Guide, but this is likely too advanced for a student's intial interview experience. If they will be documenting quilting, see Documenting Quiltmaking.

    Have the Lead Interviewer in each team write the questions that s/he will use during the interview in his/her Journal or on a sheet of paper.

    If a specific product will be created with the findings, consider how this will affect the interview. Do certain things need to be asked? Is better recording equipment needed to do a radio broadcast? Are photos or other visuals needed for the exhibit or PowerPoint?

  2. After generating a list of questions, students should identify each question as either fact-based or open-ended. Also, have them anticipate possible follow-up questions that they may ask during the interview. Remind them that the best interviews depend on follow-up questions formulated on the spot, not on reading a list of questions from a piece of paper!

Step 6. Consider "Insider" and "Outsider" Positions

  1. Before meeting with their Interviewee, have students work together in their teams to complete the Insider / Outsider Worksheet. Discuss with them the ways in which, as a team, they are insiders and outsiders and the kinds of questions they need to ask based on their positions. Have the Lead Interviewer in each team add any new questions to his/her list.

Step 7. Visit the site with Field Kit -- For Teachers and Interview Folder -- For the Teacher

  1. Once students have become familiar with their roles, gathered supplies, examined their research positions, conducted research, and generated a possible list of questions, they are ready to go into the field. Be sure that all students carry the appropriate Individual Roles in the Field Worksheet to the interview so that they can follow their individual checklists. Ask students to review the "During the Interview" section of the Conducting an Interview Evaluation before leaving. Remind students to collect their materials and papers in their individual Interview Folder -- For the Teacher!!! If you are going to be grading the fieldwork, use the Fieldwork Rubric and give students a copy in advance.

Step 8. Conduct the Interview and File Materials

  1. Students should proceed as in the practice interviews:

  2. Soon after the interview, have students write fieldnotes. A good place to start is with the three questions on the Writing About a Interview Worksheet: 1) What surprised you? 2) What intrigued you? 3) What stirred or disturbed you? Encourage students to write in detail, recounting the words of the participants, describing the setting and the experience, and being as accurate as possible. Have them file these fieldnotes in their Interview Folder -- For the Teacher.

  3. Now students are ready to start Lesson 5, which will lead them through archiving, processing, and producing products based on their field experiences. They will need the materials from their team and/or individual Interview Folder -- For the Teacher to process their fieldwork.

  4. Have students complete the Conducting an Interview Evaluation to document what they have learned in this lesson. If desired, grade the students' work and record at bottom of the form.


4th and 8th Grade Explorations and Extensions

  1. It's your turn! On your own or as a team, identify an Interviewee and conduct a second interview on the topic. If ready to plan a entire fieldwork project, use the Fieldwork Checklist for guidance. This worksheet provides assistance with planning all phases, including steps that have, up to this point, been done by the teacher.

  2. Brainstorm words or phrases that come to mind when you reflect on your fieldwork experience. Choose some to arrange as a poem.

  3. Pretend you are a radio reporter and record a story about your fieldwork. Share it with classmates or the Interviewees.

  4. After the interview is finished, use the Student Post-Interview Review Questions to review the session, including the notes taken during the interview, to see if there are additional questions that need to be asked of the Interviewee, to discuss the mechanics and content of the interview, and to plan subsequent interviews. This is part of the ongoing self-evaluation process. Written answers can go into your portfolio.


Unit II Resources

Unit II Outline

National Endowment for

            the Arts.

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