The Learning Guide

The learning guide seeks to illustrate to young people that culture, history, art, and music are not just created by historical figures, famous people, or those living in other places. Culture, history, art, and music are created every day in the lives of Iowans—among students, within their families, and across their communities.

It also encourages students to actively examine Iowa’s folklife by conducting interviews, documenting family and community traditions, learning from senior citizens, and learning from cultural practitioners in and out of the classroom.

The learning guide consists of:

Lesson plans for teachers (objectives, background, conceptual and hands-on activities, handouts) arranged in sections by subject matter. Activities and methods reference emphases for middle/junior and high school levels.

Lesson plans are organized to supplement the existing instructional program for Iowa teachers and students, mainly in language arts, social studies, music, and art. The guide identifies recommended grade levels, includes background material, teacher strategies, handouts, student activities, connections to home and community, and exchanges with senior citizen centers. It also references Prairie Voices: An Iowa Heritage Curriculum and suggested topical areas for which it may supplement extant instruction. Research methods for students are distributed through the disciplinary areas—a lesson for conducting a narrative interview is included in language arts, a lesson for community documentation is included in social studies, a lesson for tape-recording music is included in the music section, and a lesson for photographic
and video documentation is included in art.

• An Iowa Folk and Traditional Arts Roster produced by the Iowa Arts Council listing musicians, folk artists, and cultural specialists available to come into the classroom, senior centers, libraries, and museums.

Iowa Roots features stories, music and talk with traditional artists from a variety of ethnic, geographic, occupational and religious groups found in Iowa.

Two videotapes for classroom viewing to supplement lessons. Iowa Folks and Folklife is a 56-minute documentary about the festivals and a sampler of Iowa traditions, produced and broadcast by Iowa Public Television.

The second video, Profiles, consists of a series of four segments on aspects of Iowa’s cultural traditions including footage from the festivals in Washington and Des Moines and from RAGBRAI, Decorah’s Nordic Fest, the Sidney Rodeo, and on location in Dubuque, Villisca, Plainfield, and Waterloo.

Iowa State Fare: Music from the Heartland, a compact disc (CD) produced by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings featuring nine Iowa groups performing a variety of music, including gospel, blues, Meskwaki song, country, Latino corridos, quartet singing, polka, string music, and Scandinavian music.

Inherit Iowa, a senior citizen center activity guide.

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The Festival of American Folklife program Iowa: Community Style took place in front of the Smithsonian Institution Castle on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.