Study Guide Summary

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  
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  






Summary Navigation Menu
Getting Started Creole State Exhibit
Education Guide
Hurricane Unit Unit I Unit II Unit III
Unit IV Unit V Unit VI Unit VII
Unit VIII Unit IX Adaptation Strategies Looking for
Something Specific?
LV Links Glossary Acknowlegdements About Us
Opportunities Join the Community Funding

Getting Started Introduces folklife, explains why folklife is such an effective teaching tool, describes the project and guide, adapting this guide, and project partners, demonstrates the guide's adaptability and flexibility, and explains the link to the Louisiana Content Standards.

Why Folklife? Why Louisiana Voices?
Quick Overview of the Units
Helpful Hints
Printing the Guide
Examples of Curricular Connections: The South Louisiana Boat, the Pirogue
Adapting the Educator's Guide

Creole State Exhibit Education Guide Creole State Exhibit Education Guide The Creole State: An Exhibition of Louisiana Folklife is a virtual exhibit featuring the Creole State Collection which has more than 200 artifacts in seven sections. The education guide provides an overview of each of the seven exhibition sections and a list of the artifacts included in each section. The guide also contains exhibition-based interactive activities as well as URLs and QR codes that provide the viewer with additional information and extension activities. The activities are appropriate for students in grades 3 through 12, families and independent learners.

Hurricane Resources and Opportunities for K-12 Educators In the Wake of the Hurricane, 5-12th grade This unit is an effort by Louisiana Voices to provide 5-12th grade teachers with materials that can assist them and their students in coping with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. The unit involves teaching students to interview each other, community members, and family members about the experiences of this year's hurricanes and their aftermath. The activities are designed to allow teachers great flexibility and easy to use. Art lesson plans and other resources are also provided.

Unit I Defining Terms When you research and document the culture of your communities, you are undertaking fieldwork. You might do this through interviews, photography, audiotaping, videotaping, sketching, or research. There are so many educational advantages to conducting fieldwork with your students that you won't want to pass this opportunity up! Fieldwork builds students' communication skills and enhances their analytical skills. It also builds creativity in students. Additional discussions are provided in the Louisiana Folklife Program's page, Key Folklife Definitions.

Lesson 1 What is Folklife? Students are introduced to the term folklife through a student essay, discussion, and activities. They learn that folklife is transmitted through everyday activities. They learn about variants, motifs, and cultural processes–folk, popular, elite cultures, and to connect folklife to everyday experience. For an alternate way of introducing these basic concepts using children's games and play, see Unit III Lesson 1.

Lesson 2 Folk Groups Students understand the characteristics of a folk group, learn about themselves and their folk groups, and write about a folk group that is meaningful to them. For another way to introduce the concept of folk groups, see Unit III Lesson 2, where students identify various folk groups within the school community.

Lesson 3 Folk Genres Students are introduced to different folk genres. They hear personal narratives of people in Louisiana and identify their folklife. This lesson brings together the concepts of the unit: folklife, folk groups, and folk genres.

Unit II Classroom Applications of Fieldwork Basics Students learn to plan fieldwork research collaboratively and step by step to set goals, choose methodologies and technology, identify subjects, design research instruments, develop project schedules and checklists, and the importance of testing tools and equipment and practicing interviewing.

Fieldwork Basics Overview This essay provides an overview of the issues involved with students conducting fieldwork.

Lesson 1 Getting Positioned for Fieldwork Students are introduced to interviewing and fieldwork through a student essay. Other activities will help them understand the interviewer's task of examining his or her position in fieldwork through observation and questioning. Students learn about themselves and cultural stereotyping through observation and the interview process.

Lesson 2 The Practice Interview Students are introduced to the interview process by interviewing each other in pairs using a name game.

Lesson 3 Inviting a Community Guest Students conduct an interview from an outsider position.

Lesson 4 Teams in the Field Students conduct team interviews outside the classroom, either within the school or beyond, as part of a fieldwork project.

Lesson 5 Making Use of Fieldwork Students transcribe, analyze, and archive fieldwork and create a team project drawn from fieldwork.

Unit III Discovering the Obvious: Our Lives as "The Folk" Helps students to discover folklife through their own traditions in everyday life -- their games and play, school, and family.

Lesson 1 The Child: Games and Play Today and Yesterday in Louisiana This lesson uses the study of play and games to introduce students to definitions of folklore, folklife, folk group, to an awareness of themselves as tradition bearers of folk groups, and to the idea that everyone has folklife.

Lesson 2 The School--School Culture Across Louisiana Students identify and research school customs and folk groups through discussion and interviews. They learn that traditional culture exists within other cultural contexts, such as the academic world of school, and in combination with popular culture. They investigate the name, history, and stories of their school and others' school traditions.

Lesson 3 The Family:  Louisiana Family Folklore Every family has unique folklife. Three activities provide points of entry to help students understand the dynamic nature of folklife and reinforce how everyone has deeply embedded, often overlooked, traditions.

Activity 1 Naming Traditions Naming is one of many family traditions to study. Students get to know each other better and learn more about their family and community history. After the students have researched their own and their parents' names, they notice names in literature, history, and other studies and know more about these names. By starting with themselves, students see that all families have naming traditions but these traditions differ and change over time.

Activity 2 Family Pictures This lesson asks students to look at their families as an outsider would, to research and share the stories behind their photos. Then they look at other images of families from magazines and artwork and apply the analyzing skills they've learned from studying their own pictures.

Activity 3 Family Treasures Students identify family treasures and research their context. They organize artifacts into various categories and research traditional Louisiana artifacts online.

Unit IV The State of Our Lives: Being a Louisiana Neighbor Emphasizes map skills and regionality and covers Louisiana's major folk cultural regions, sense of place, environment, and geography while providing a useful framework of cultural perspectives to help students consider the many elements that contribute to "sense of place." Technology options include making spreadsheets and large maps.

Lesson 1 Louisiana's Major Folk Regions Students study the three major folk regions of the state: North Louisiana, South Louisiana, and New Orleans. Older students can break these regions down into smaller folk regions.

Lesson 2 Geography, Ecology, and Folklife Students investigate how geography and ecology influence a region's folklife and consider how an outsider might view their own region in this lesson. The natural world, even in urban settings, influences how we view life, what materials are available for crafts, what occupations we choose, how our homes look. Eighth graders tackle more sophisticated investigation, analysis, and mapping.

Lesson 3 Sense of Place After studying the major folk regions of Louisiana and the relationship between folklife, geography, and ecology, students give deeper thought to what makes their own community unique, what their "sense of place" is. Not only are our communities and neighborhoods unique, so are our perspectives of where we live. In addition to geographic mapping of their communities, students develop conceptual maps of their sense of place.

Unit V Oral Traditions: Swapping Stories Covers a wide variety of oral traditions, from local and historical legends to personal experience narratives, drawing heavily on Swapping Stories: Folktales from Louisiana, a publication, video, and website that students will explore.

Lesson 1 Introduction to Traditional Oral Narratives From nursery rhymes to advertising jingles, jokes to favorite stories, children and adults play with words, organize their thoughts and concerns through speaking. This lesson introduces students to the idea of traditional oral narrative as divided into genres, or types. They begin to explore the genres found in Swapping Stories, as well as the concepts of context, motifs, and variants.

Lesson 2 Language and Dialect This lesson tests students' listening skills as they study tellers from different parts of the state and asks them to consider their own regional dialects and insider language of folk groups they belong to. They learn that language is part of folklife and that folk groups share special "insider" terms, phrases, and dialects unique to them. This lesson could dovetail with Unit IV lessons on the folk regions of Louisiana.

Lesson 3 Folk and Family Heroes and Heroines Students define and learn the difference between folk heroes, held in collective memory, and family heroes or a media celebrity. They read about and find family and folk heroes and heroines in their own lives.

Lesson 4 Tall Tales and Urban Legends Students learn to recognize tall tales, urban legends, and cyberlore and find them in their own lives. They practice telling and listening to these tales and explore why people tell them.

Lesson 5 First Meeting of the Indians and the Europeans Students hear a Native American Indian point of view of Europeans' arrival in Louisiana told in Koasati. They consider how insiders, cultural perspectives, and native language shape a story, and learn about the Koasati tribe of Louisiana.

Lesson 6 Historical Legends This lesson explores local and state historical legends and introduces students to one of the lesser known Louisiana cultural groups, the Isleños, who came from the Canary Islands. Fourth graders research local historical legends. Eighth graders study the Isleño variation of the Hispanic historical ballad tradition called the décima.

Lesson 7 Personal Experience Narratives Students identify personal experience narratives in their own lives through telling stories themselves and collecting stories from family members or other adults. Students study personal experience narratives in Swapping Stories and compare vernacular, or everyday, language in these stories with literary versions of folktales. They compare personal experience narratives with oral histories, and 8th graders read a personal experience narrative of the of the North Louisiana folk artist Sarah Albritton, whose paintings tell of her life experiences.

Unit VI Louisiana's Musical Landscape Explores Louisiana music and folk dance; addresses listening skills; and relates music to social studies, economics, language arts, musical legends, and visual arts as well as school-based music studies.

Lesson 1 Music Around the State: Sound and Place This lesson introduces students to the styles and elements of music in the three major folk regions of Louisiana within specific traditional music genres. Students hear the diversity of music in the state and to identify the major genres of traditional music by how they sound and where they most often occur. This lesson will also give students a context within which to consider their own musical landscapes. They look for and listen to different versions of traditional songs.

Lesson 2 Listening Logs Students hone their listening skills, develop tools for approaching research into their own musical traditions and those of community and state, and learn different ways of recording data.

Lesson 3 Generational Music Communities This lesson focuses on age-related generations so that students consider how traditional music is transmitted from one generation to another and how music functions for people within a generation, including their own.

Lesson 4 Moving to Music This lesson helps students understand how they themselves use movement and dance and the many ways that people move and dance in different contexts. Close observation and imitation of folk movement and dance improves decoding skills and kinesthetic abilities. They also learn about the importance of folk dance to cultural groups and that they must understand the folk group to be able to understand the folk dance.

Lesson 5 Music Is Business This lesson stresses the importance of music to the economy of Louisiana, jobs and skills needed in the state's music industry, music industry career opportunities for students, and personal contact with people in the music industry. Students also build critical-inquiry skills by reviewing musical performances and recordings.

Lesson 6 Louisiana's Legendary Musicians This lesson introduces students to legendary traditional musicians of Louisiana, allowing them to hear new genres of traditional music; consider what it means to be a legendary artist; and read, write, and create projects about these extraordinary figures.

Unit VII Material Culture--The Stuff of Life [L'Unité 7 est accessible en Français] This unit introduces the concept of material culture and provides ways of looking at artifacts, art, teaching, and learning. Students examine the aesthetics of everyday life such as vernacular architecture, gardens and yards, needlework, crafts, hairstyles, foodways, body ornamentation, clothing and costumes. Students consider questions of use and beauty and the importance of context to artifacts.

Lesson 1 Reading Artifacts Students begin the study of material culture by looking carefully at vernacular, or everyday objects from several perspectives, considering the context, or story, of objects, and categorizing objects. They improve their fieldwork research skills by looking at artifacts as cultural outsiders would. Learning to "read culture," students hone decoding skills that improve reading and writing.

Lesson 2 Teaching and Learning Through Objects This lesson asks students to consider the function, form, and meaning of objects and how we learn skills and make things that we learn traditionally, by observation and imitation, in everyday life from "indigenous teachers" around us.

Lesson 3 Introducing Louisiana Foodways This lesson introduces Louisiana foodways by continuing to give students "insider" and "outsider" perspectives. Its main aim is to lay groundwork for studying Louisiana foodways more deeply. In this lesson and Lessons 4 and 5, students develop interdisciplinary activities based on many aspects of Louisiana food and find resources on foodways of all regions.

Louisiana's Many Food Traditions -- adapted by Eileen Engel

Lesson 4 Family Foodways Students discover, document, and share what they know of family foodways related to special occasions. They explore the context in which food traditions are created and adapted in their families and communities. Studying foodways increases students' understanding of and respect for the commonalities and differences among themselves and their peers.

Lesson 5 Louisiana Regional Foodways Students improve research techniques in locating, selecting, and synthesizing information from a variety of texts, media, references, and Internet resources to acquire knowledge of regional foodways traditions throughout Louisiana from the past and present. They learn that geography and regional culture influence foodways and they extend the exploration of context and foodways.

Lesson 6 Louisiana Crafts and Domestic Arts The term material culture refers to a vast array of objects and activities that people make and do traditionally. Diverse crafts and decorative arts are made and practiced indoors and outdoors throughout the seasonal round all across the state. Students learn about traditional Louisiana crafts and decorative arts of the past and the present through research, and they identify crafts and decorative arts in their own communities.

Unit VIII The Worlds of Work and Play [L'Unité 8 est accessible en Français] Encourages students' interaction with adults in the community through documenting traditional occupations. Students also investigate ways that adults enjoy life and share community through recreation, hobbies, celebrations, oral narrative, and other traditions.

Lesson 1 On the Job Students are introduced to the concept of occupational folklife and learn about occupations in their community and the state. They collect examples of occupational folklife such as special terms, equipment, or gestures, as well as stories, jokes, and customs. They differentiate between the skills learned in a setting such as school or formal job training and skills learned traditionally on the job, through word of mouth and observation.

Lesson 2 Home Work By examining domestic work, skills, and crafts, students find arenas of traditional learning in their own homes and daily lives. They identify experts at home and in the region whose skills contribute to building family life and community. Domestic crafts vary from home to home and regionally, and students study domestic crafts around the state. They examine how gender and age relate to domestic work and analyze where they themselves fit in the scheme of work around the home.

Lesson 3 Grown-ups at Play Students realize that adults entertain themselves at work and in their private lives and that much of adult play, like children's play, is part of adults' folklife and that they play in various folk groups. They consider the elite, popular, and folk culture elements of adult play and recreation. They investigate tourism in their region and around the state and examine it in relation to how local insiders interact with the same activities and events. They collect forms of adults' wordplay.

Unit IX The Seasonal Round and The Cycle of Life  Encourages students' interaction with adults and covers seasonal round customs, beliefs, traditions, celebrations, and holidays.

Part 1 The Seasonal Round  Designed for younger students, but older students can use activities in Lessons 2 and 3 to acquaint themselves with the concept of the "seasonal round" and to identify traditions important to them throughout the year.

Lesson 1 Birthday Calendars Students are introduced to the concept of the seasonal round and how folklife traditions vary from season to season. They begin charting dates of personal interest on seasonal round calendars by starting with birthdays. They research birthday traditions in their own communities and around the world.

Lesson 2 Constructing Personal Calendars Students identify important dates in the life of the school and the community through research and interviewing. Next they identify important dates in the state and nation and research various holidays and special occasions. They design personal calendars to compare with calendars of other students, community members, and cultural groups around the state and the world.

Researching and Celebrating the Seasons

Lesson 3 Folklife Around the Year and Around the State Students research how seasonal changes in Louisiana affect their own lives and the folklife of their communities and the state.

Part 2 The Cycle of Life Students in grades 8 and higher may use activities in Part 2 to research rites of passage, the role of older people in society, beliefs about health, burial traditions, and local cemeteries.

Lesson 1 Birth and Early Childhood Students begin their study of the cycle of life by researching creation myths of various cultures, collecting birth stories and beliefs, and surveying milestones in early childhood. Students learn that all cultures share stories about the beginning of life and traditions that welcome a child into the world. Students collect beliefs from family and community members about pregnancy, birth, and prediction of a baby's gender. They also decide what milestones are important to a young child in their community.

Lesson 2 Rites of Passage In this lesson students search for rites of passage in their own lives and study rites of other cultural groups in Louisiana and around the world. They recognize moments of importance in people's lives and find meaning in the stages of their own and others' lives. They learn that all cultures have rites of passage for similar stages in the cycle of life.

Lesson 3 Elders' Ways Students study folk beliefs about illness and healing, research Louisiana graveyards and burial traditions, and talk about the cycle of life with older people in their communities. In turn, students share some of their own stories and traditions with older people.

Adaptation Strategies  Ideas for making difficult reading materials available to your students.

Taking Notes  

Looking for Something Specific?   Guidance for finding a particular interest, topic, or activity.

Louisiana Voices Links Lists key websites used in the Louisiana Voices lessons and workshops.

Glossary For teachers to adapt for their students.

Acknowledgements and Credits Meet the team who conceived and continue to work with Louisiana Voices.

About Us Meet the workshop presenters.

Opportunities for Professional Development Workshops and more.

Join the Community Join our Email Group and communicate with others using Louisiana Voices.

Funding Opportunities


National Endowment for the Arts.

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