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Free resources for the classroom
Activities for students and lifetime learners.
Smithsonian Folkways contains many recordings of interviews with and oral histories of influential leaders such as W.E.B. DuBois and Angela Davis to voices of everyday people from Grenada to South Carolina. They demonstrate how important peoples' voices and stories are to understanding history. The Smithsonian Folklife Oral History Interviewing Guide inspires students to turn to members of their own family and community as key sources of history, culture, and tradition. It features a general guide to conducting an interview, as well as a sample list of questions that may be adapted to your own needs and circumstances.
Mexican corridos are story songs about local events and people. Listen to the many corridos found on Smithsonian Folkways, and have students explore the history of the music and write their very own corrido to share with the class. Resources for teachers include lessons on how corridos provide insight into the Chicano struggle for social justice.
This issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom, a publication of the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, introduces students to English poetic ballads and the poetry of Langston Hughes using music, spoken word, and video found on Folkways. Full-length streaming tracks to accompany the lesson plans are available here.