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How to use this Guide
This site gives you the tools to take advantage of the opportunities offered by River of Song and
to meet the educational goals stated above with students at the middle level. You can and should
use the materials in ways that work with your students, using all of the materials or only a few as
time permits, and altering them as you see fit. We suggest, however, that you start with the
following working method:
- Invite students to watch the show with their parents, or encourage parents to tape the
show for later viewing if your local PBS affiliate is showing the series at an inconvenient
time. You can do this easily by duplicating and sending home the sample letter to parents
that appears on this site.
- Tape the show yourself, or ask your Learning Resource Center coordinator to tape it for
you for use in the classroom. You have permission to tape the show for educational use
and to maintain the tape for one year. For your permanent collection, you can purchase a video
set from Acorn Media, (800) 474-2277.
- Consider purchasing the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings 2-CD set that goes with the
program (catalogue number SFW 40086, 1998) 800-410-9815. This can be a useful resource, in particular, for those teachers who want to
explore more deeply the musical styles introduced by the program. Other resources for the
show include the book, River of Song: A Musical Journey Down the Mississippi. It is
available from St. Martin's Press, (800) 288-2131.
- Download and print out the handouts for that go with the introductory activity for each program, photocopying one for each
student in your class.
- Arrange to show the tape (or a portion of the tape) during class. The programs each run
about fifty-four minutes, so you may want to "zero in" on a portion that fits your class time limitations. Note that the handouts list the time for each segment of the program--use
those numbers both to plan the segments you wish to use and to help you in locating
individual segments. Make certain that you use the short introductory activity that goes
with the handouts--this will set the stage for students' experience of the series. Be sure to
follow up the students' work in completing the handout with a lively classroom
interchange based around the discussion questions for each program--and encourage your
students to carry the discussion back to their homes.
- Use the programs and handouts as an enrichment material assigned to students for out-of-class viewing at home or in your school Learning Resource Center. If you ask students to
review the materials in this way, we suggest that you complete the introductory activity in
- Choose from among the extension lessons for strategies to target specific skills and
knowledge that your students need. Some are designed for use as part of your daily lesson
planning; some activities are better used as activities in which the student logs directly
onto the internet for sound files and other enhancements. You will find these lessons and
activities all listed in the activity index to this site.
- Use this site as a source for background materials as you prepare your regular lesson plans.
Choose from among the extension lessons for strategies to target specific skills and knowledge that your students need. Some are designed for use as
part of your daily lesson planning; some activities are better used as activities in which the student logs directly onto the internet for sound files and other
enhancements. You will find these lessons and activities all listed in the activity index to this site.
Use this site as a source for background materials as you prepare your regular lesson plans. Of course, each activity listed here includes a list of needed
resources, but don't forget to further explore the River of Song site for additional information and motivation for you and for your students.