[Detail] Dan Martinez and Bob Humphrey rope calves, Nevada, 1978.
Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada contains nearly 70 sound recordings and films, along with two essays that provide context for collection users. Teachers will find that this collection especially rich for teaching listening and interviewing skills to students at all grade levels. (NOTE: you may need special "viewers" on your computer to access the sound and film recordings; see Viewer Information if you run into problems.)
1) Expository Writing
The Special Presentation Buckaroos: Views of a Western Way of Life is a good example of expository writing that integrates research, evidence, and description in essay form. See, for instance, the section on Working, which draws on interviews to portray the culture of work on the ranch, or the section on Irons, which uses detailed description to depict one facet of "buckarooing."
Students can search the sound recordings on working (make sure that "Search on Audio Collections ONLY" is selected from the first pull-down menu) to find two or three recordings of people describing their own work experiences (for instance, "I just Needed a Job" and "I Was Born in Kermit, Texas," both of which are interviews with workers on the Ninety-Six Ranch). Then have them write short essays contrasting the content of the recordings and the Working section of Buckaroos: Views of a Western Way of Life.
Have students read Carl Fleishauer's essay discussing the circumstances of one of the folklife research team's interviews of rancher Les Stewart, from which many selections in the collection are drawn, in "Interviewing Leslie Stewart." Then have them search on 81/05/09 Leslie Stewart for video recordings of Stewart from that interview. (May 9, 1981 is the date it took place.)
Ask students to perform half-hour tape-recorded (or video-recorded) interviews of people close to them, such as a teacher, a parent or a friend. Then have them write short essays on the circumstances of the interview, much like Fleishauer's. The essay should briefly describe the setting, including its significance to the person being interviewed and any thoughts on the interview itself. For instance:
- Was the person at ease while being interviewed?
- Did any interruptions come up during the interview?
- What did the student learn from the interviewee, or from the experiencing of conducting the interview?
After the exercise, students should be able to discuss such questions as:
- What makes a good interview?
- What preparation on the interviewer's part was helpful to making the interview go well?
- What are some of the problems that come up while interviewing?
- Did you learn anything that surprised you? What?
Finally, students can use the guidelines in Folklife and Fieldwork: A Layman's Introduction to Field Techniques to create a classroom archive for their tapes, essays and any other documentation, such as photographs or hand-written notes.
3) Spoken Word and Regionalism
The interviews in this collection all took place at the Ninety-Six Ranch, and what we know about regionalism suggests that the people there would all sound similar. And yet in fact when listening to the recordings, several distinctive accents emerge: Martha Arriola, born in Germany, sounds very different from Stanley Smart, a Northern Paiute Indian. Smart in turn has a different accent than Les Stewart, a white man who was born in Nevada.
Do a search on any of the individual names above to find sound recordings and photographs. Is there anything similar in the ways these people talk? What's different? What are some of the similarities and differences in the ways people talk in your own school, town or city?
Make tape recordings (video or audio) of people speaking in your school. Analyze the differences and similarities in their accents, and in the words (or language) they use. What causes differences (for instance, age/generation, place of birth)? Have students come up with a list of words that they think of as regionalisms: things said in your part of the country that are not used commonly other places.