Louisiana Voices Educator's Guide  
Getting Started With This Guide  
Outline of the Study Guides  
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 Homepage  
Louisiana Folklife Program Home  
Louisiana's Living Traditions: Articles, Photos and Virtual Exhibits about Louisiana Folklife  





By Paddy Bowman, Sylvia Bienvenu, and Maida Owens



A culture must be preserved one generation at a time.

--Dewey Balfa, Acadia Parish




Why Folklife? Why Louisiana Voices?
Quick Overview of the Units
Helpful Hints
Printing the Guide
Examples of Curricular Connections
Adapting the Educator's Guide

Getting Started

Welcome to Louisiana Voices Educator's Guide!

Louisiana Voices is a pioneering online education guide that provides rich teaching resources on Louisiana folk and traditional arts and culture and tools for researching any cultural group, while integrating the Louisiana Education Content Standards. Every lesson addresses Social Studies and English Language Arts, and some also address Visual Arts, Music, Foreign Language, Mathematics, or Science Content Standards. These lessons target 4th and 8th grades, but they can be adapted to any grade level. The 8th grade activities are especially adaptable for high school students as well as higher education students and public program audiences. In addition to introducing students to Louisiana folklife and their own community traditions, the units include extensive cutting-edge technology applications and authentic assessment strategies, as well as Internet connections that link students to high-quality folklife videos, music, stories, bibliographies, and websites. Thus, these units provide a fascinating blend of high tech and low tech, marrying the traditional and the technological.

The goal of the project is to provide frameworks for the study of culture and an academically sound basis for integrating such study across curricula. The interdisciplinary study of traditional arts and community-based research in classrooms validates students' heritages and traditions, while fostering critical-inquiry skills, developing primary research skills, and relating curriculum and classroom to students' lives and communities because students participate as experts on their own folk groups and cultural traditions.

Why Folklife? Why Louisiana Voices?

A few quick reasons why Louisiana Voices should be used in your classroom:

  1. Since everyone and every community has folk traditions, studying folklife provides a readily accessible subject, in which students can be the experts.

  2. Students acquire new perspectives about themselves, their culture, and the culture of others, introducing multicultural heritage and multiple points of view to students in a positive manner.

  3. By seeing the continuation of folk expressions in their communities, students can connect the past with the present.

  4. Students use and create primary resources.

Everyone regardless of age, gender, socio-economic class, or ethnic heritage has folk traditions -- those expressive customs currently practiced within a group that are passed along by word of mouth, imitation, and observation over time and through space. Incorporating folklife in the classroom educates, motivates, engages, and fosters the creative expression of students and, at the same time, connects them to their communities and their state.

Each of us belongs to various folk groups. A folk group shares similar values, goals, experiences, and interests. Within these folk groups, people who create the stories, objects, and actions that represent the group values folklorists call "tradition bearers" or folk artists.

Along with our participation in various folk groups come insider perspectives that we often overlook because we take them for granted. Studying folklife helps us to identify our cultural assumptions and recognize the importance of multiple points of view.

Louisiana is blessed with a broad spectrum of cultures and traditions, which makes our state one-of-a-kind. These attributes offer Louisiana educators an exceptional opportunity to enrich their teaching with these matchless traditions -- found among students, family, community members, and themselves. Students enthusiastically respond to folklife content such as stories, music, customs, beliefs, dance, foodways, or artifacts as well as to folklorists' methodologies, such as collecting and preserving primary sources through interviewing, listening, reporting, writing, categorizing, measuring, quantifying, and analyzing. Classroom instruction is further augmented when tradition bearers from the community share their experiences and talents with students. Mentor interaction can be fostered when members of the community share their experiences with students and, in so doing, further strengthen community bonds.

Louisiana educators face the challenge of:

  • Authentically addressing cultural diversity and tolerance for others.

  • Deepening literacy skills.

  • Involving parents and community members as resources.

  • Engaging multiple intelligences and fostering critical thinking.

  • Motivating students through familiar and interesting content.

  • Using effective assessment tools.

  • Incorporating educational technology in the classroom.

  • Helping students meet education standards.

Integrating the study of the state's living folklife into existing curricula can answer some of these needs while improving self-identify and awakening self-awareness in students of their own roles as tradition bearers, their families as repositories of traditional culture and history, their communities as unique resources, and their state folklife as one of the nation's most intriguing cultural mixes. By starting with what they know best -- themselves -- students can begin to explore new ways of looking at others. By finding their own traditions in the present and studying others' traditions of the past and present, students can see the continuum from past to future. The tool for addressing all of these needs and tapping into all of these pedagogical potentials is called the Louisiana Voices Educator's Guide.


Quick Overview of the Units

Louisiana Voices is easy to use! You may choose to teach whole units or select individual activities from the guide depending on your curricular needs. Suggested activities do not have to be followed in exact sequence. Feel free to adapt Louisiana Voices to your teaching needs.

No matter the length of study you are planning, it is important that you read Unit I Defining Terms and Classroom Applications of Fieldwork Basics. These provide essential background and seed ideas for classroom applications.

Unit II Classroom Applications of Fieldwork Basics gives more detailed strategies to maximize the learning opportunities of having students conduct fieldwork, including activities on observation, teamwork, and processing the materials to produce products. This unit also links to related activities throughout the Educator's Guide.

Unit III Discovering the Obvious: Our lives as "The Folk" is the best way to introduce students to folklife, because they find where their own traditional arts and folklife exist in daily life. Then they can more easily study others' cultural expressions and find commonalities as well as differences with greater understanding and tolerance.

Unit V Oral Traditions: Swapping Stories and Unit VI Louisiana's Musical Landscape are long units that provide many stories, songs, activities, and especially rich resources. Unit IV The State of Our Lives: Being a Louisiana Neighbor emphasizes map skills and regionality. Unit VII Material Culture: The Stuff of Life incorporates more visual arts than other units. Unit VIII The Worlds of Work and Play and Unit IX The Seasonal Round and The Cycle of Life encourage students' interaction with adults in the community through fieldwork research.

Whether you have a week, a semester, or an entire school year to study folklife, start with Unit III Discovering the Obvious: Our Lives as "The Folk." Then choose among lessons in the other units in an order that fits your curricular needs. As students progress, consider preserving their findings for future classes and your community (see Unit II Classroom Applications of Fieldwork Basics). Document students' journeys into community and state folklife over their course of study by keeping a journal of your observations, taking photographs, and measuring students' improvements. Our assessment tools and rubrics will help you assess your students and guide them through activities.

Consider partnering with other teachers or community groups. Link with other teachers in your school or elsewhere in the state to share problems and successes. Ask administrators and the parent teacher organization for support and send a letter home with students outlining your plans (see Letter to Parents and Caregivers). Involve families, community members, and the school community during the year. Publicize students' work in the school paper and local media. Give presentations at teacher workshops or regional education meetings. Invite local school officials to events that you and your students organize. Studying folklife in depth connects students and communities in powerful ways and you'll want to share students' work.

Helpful Hints

Use the Study Guide Outline to review the units, lessons, and their purpose. Expand the list to see an outline of the entire guide with all lessons, Content Standards met, student worksheets, and rubrics.

Use Looking for Something Specific? to locate activities that teach a skill, or include a specific activity or content.

For each lesson, review the unit introduction, lesson purpose and objectives, Background Information for the Teacher, sequence of activities, and Explorations and Extensions to adapt what is appropriate for your teaching and your students. In addition to suggested activities, each lesson lists these extensive resources: websites and online articles in Technology Connections, publications in Lesson Resources, and student worksheets and rubrics. Bookmark and print information from some of the articles and websites, excerpting or adapting sections suitable for your students.

Lessons are addressed to the teacher, while "Explorations and Extensions" are addressed to the students, who can pick and choose activities that interest them. The teacher can also integrate these interdisciplinary extensions into lessons.

Adapt definitions in the Louisiana Voices glossary to your students' comprehension levels.

Units VII and VIII are available in French, but be aware that they are translations of earlier versions of these units.

Each unit and lesson begins with a quote about Louisiana folklife from folklorists' fieldwork and articles. These quotes can help students learn about different people in every part of the state. Find all the quotes at Voices of Louisiana. As a culminating activity, students can cull through their fieldnotes and tapes to create a collection of quotes that are voices of their community. See Unit II Lesson 3 for an activity using the quotations.

Lesson Resources, which include publications and videos, follow each lesson and are summarized in Unit Resources. In addition to these resources, find engaging free information in the online articles, exhibits, and websites listed in Technology Connections in each lesson. See LV Links for all websites referenced in Louisiana Voices.

Educators can adapt Louisiana Voices resources for any grade or discipline. In every classroom students' reading comprehension levels differ. Many of the online articles in Louisiana Voices feature compelling information, from the occupational folklife of Delta crop dusters to African-American sacred music traditions around the state. Take advantage of these resources by choosing appropriate excerpts to print out, bookmarking developmentally appropriate articles, and summarizing materials during class discussion. Use Adaptation Strategies for ideas about how to do this.

If you want students to use the online resources, they can go straight to worksheets and rubrics from Welcome to Students.

Printing the Guide

Want to print out a lesson or part of one? Highlight the section you want and print just that section or copy it into your word processing software. We've provided html versions of all worksheets and rubrics so that you can adapt them, too.

Want to print the entire guide? It's about 1,000 pages! Use the LV Outline and just go down the list using the PDF version of worksheets rather than the html version. Sorry, we don't have PDFs of the lessons.

You can remove the headers or footers in your browser's Page Setup.

This website is best viewed with Internet Explorer.

Examples of Curricular Connections: The Pirogue

You can connect Louisiana Voices to your curriculum in unlimited ways. Here's just one example featuring traditional boats.

Use the online essay, "Louisiana Boatbuilding: An Unfathomed Fortune," by C. Ray Brassieur, and the virtual exhibit the Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery.

Social Studies: Ask students to research these questions using the online Louisiana Voices resources: What is the history of the pirogue? Was this a Native American craft? Is it still in use? Why is this boat indigenous to Louisiana? Who still makes and uses it? What boats are made in your region? Compare traditional Louisiana boats with those of another state or country. Why do boats differ from place to place? Take a look at this pirogue and Lafitte skiff to get you started: Boat 1 - A Pirogue, Boat 2 - A Lafitte Skiff.

Math: Discuss how a pirogue boat builder calculates his task. What proportions are consistent in each pirogue since all cypress logs differ in size? With students, find the model pirogue in the online Louisiana Folklife Photo Gallery and compute the ratio of a working boat compared with a model boat using a calculator. Display results in a spreadsheet.

Visual Art: With students, study the proportions of a pirogue or model pirogue online or through other sources. They can make their own from clay or use a software drawing program to draw a pirogue. Play recordings of South Louisiana traditional musicians while working (for example, "Louisiana Cajun Music from the Southwest Prairies," Vols. 1 and 2, Rounder CD 6001 & 6002). Or select appropriate audio and video clips Audio & Video Clips on Louisiana Traditional Culture.

Music and Movement: Play a recording by South Louisiana traditional musicians and ask students to create a pantomime incorporating music and the movements of a pirogue builder or someone using a pirogue in a bayou (for example,'Tit galop pour Mamou, by Steve Riley). Students may also research Southwest Louisiana music and dance traditions.

Science and Ecology: Use the following questions to prompt research on cypress. What are the physical properties of cypress that make it ideal for building a pirogue? Where does cypress grow? Is it among endangered tree species? Why does a pirogue float? Students may also research the ecology of Louisiana swamps where cypress grow and draw a picture using a software drawing program or build a diorama using flora and fauna of the swamps. Research can include interviews of people who work in the swamps to explore how ecology and folklife relate.

Adapting the Educator's Guide

The material in this guide is public domain, so please use and adapt these units to suit your needs. Just note that some rubrics require licensing as indicated. All we ask is that you acknowledge the source and indicate that funding was provided by the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Note that the other online Louisiana folklife resources (articles, photographs, stories) are not public domain. It's easy to determine whether something is public domain:

All webpages with an address starting with www.louisianavoices.org are public domain.

All webpages with an address starting with www.louisianafolklife.org are not public domain.

Contact the Louisiana Folklife Program director concerning using or adapting them: Maida Owens, Folklife Program director, Louisiana Division of the Arts, P.O. Box 44247, Baton Rouge, LA 70804, 225/342-8180, 225/342-8173 fax, folklife@crt.la.gov.



National Endowment for the Arts.

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Questions about this site? Contact Maida Owens, folklife@crt.la.gov.