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You can use the site's magazine articles, artist bios, and other content as assignments to provide reading practice and background on world music. A few interactive elements, some of which are available in Spanish, also provide a look at topics like jazz and Latin music.
The content, which features musical styles and songs from various cultures, can potentially be used in social studies or geography lessons, as well. Lesson plans are also available on the site for various age groups, including grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.Continue reading Show less
Smithsonian Folkways is a website that features downloads, streaming video, articles, teaching materials, and other items based on the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings record label's archives, which are maintained by the Smithsonian Institution. Founded in 1948 to document spoken word, regional and other music from around the world, the label was acquired by the Smithsonian in 1987. The museum itself contains a collection of more than 3,200 culturally influenced albums and 45,000 tracks, some of which are available on the Smithsonian Folkways site.
Kids can check out performance-based videos that showcase musical styles from Africa, Central Asia, Europe, and other areas; listen to podcasts based on the archive collection; and read artist bios. Albums are labeled by country of origin, culture group, the main instruments used, lyric language, and keywords like folk songs or sound effects.
The well-planned content can help kids draw connections between music history and genres. Most items link to additional information about the time period or artist and include song snippets. But kids should know that this isn't Spotify. Younger users may struggle with the amount of reading; audio elements help break things up, but the information is generally presented in articles, bios, and other written formats. Kids also can't immediately play each song they stumble across on the site, which can be frustrating. A Smithsonian Folkways radio station plays tunes at random. Articles from Folkways Magazine link to artist albums, but track listings just feature a brief sample. A 2009 Pete Seeger cover story, for example, leads to a video of Seeger being interviewed and song teasers; but users have to purchase or download an album to hear entire tunes. Kids can, however, listen to full-length songs and access additional information through the site's themed playlists, which center on subjects like Civil War songs.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Reading Informational Text
Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 9–10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.
By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Speaking & Listening
Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.