Lesson Plan: Listen, Record, Remember; Family Oral History Project

Written By: Melinda Crimmins
Grade Level: 8-12

Time Allotment

Approximately 5-7 50 minute class periods with students conducting interviews outside of class.


Overview

After reading a short memoir and reviewing the genre, students will create their own memoir along with memoirs of family members. Students select a family member to interview, craft a set of interview questions, create a written document (essay or transcript) of the interview and electronically publish it along with an audio oral history.

Supplemental Materials Lesson Plan
Interview Essay
Memoir Rubric 1
Memoir Rubric
Podcasting Audio Only Instructions
Interview Essay
Transcribing an Oral History

Subject Matter

English/Language
Arts
 


Learning Objectives

  1. Using multiple sources of information students will build literacy skills and gain an appreciation of the importance of narrative and history in their lives by creating their own personal memoir and interviewing family members.
  2. Students shall demonstrate understanding of the techniques and process of digital story telling and digital recording of oral histories. 


Media Components - Video/Web

Autistic
 Basketball
 Manager's
 20 
Point 
Game
Everybody
 Has
 a
 Story
 Flashback: 
Veteran
Sources
 for
 Audio:
The
 Free Sound
 Project
Flash
 Kit 
Sound
 Loops
Flash
 Kit 
Sound
 FX
A1 
Free 
Sound
 Effects
Documentary Sound
American Radio Works
History and Politics Out Loud

Materials

Memoirs 
to 
Consider:

 Gates, Henry Louis Jr. Colored People

 Kaysen, Susanna. Girl, Interrupted

 Wolff, Tobias. This Boy’s Life.

 Russell Baker, Growing Up

 Jim Barnes, On Native Ground

 Lan Cao, Monkey Bridge

 Jimmy Carter, An Hour Before Daylight

 Stephen Church, The Guiness Book of Me

 Bill Clinton, My Life

 Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

 Annie Dillard, An American Childhood

 Mark Doty, Firebird

 Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering

 Genius Helen Freemont, After Long Silence

 James Frey, A Million Little Pieces

 Elizabeth Gold, Brief Intervals of Horrible Sanity

 Brendan Halpin, Losing My Faculties—A Teacher's Story

 Adam Harmon, Lonely Soldier

 Stephen King, On Writing Maxine

 Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts

 Annie Lamont, Bird by Bird

 Beryl Markham, West with the Night

 Nathan McCall, Makes Me Wanna Holler

 Frank McCourt, Teacher Man and Angela’s Ashes

 William Alexander Percy, Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter’s Son

 Ruth Reichl, Garlic and Sapphires, Comfort Me With Apples, and Tender at the Bone

 Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

 Elie Wiesel, Night

 


Teacher Preparation

  1. Check out or gather digital recording devices for student use.
  2. Make copies of the handouts for the lesson:

    • Receiver 
of 
Memory 
Interview 
Questions

    • Transcribing
 an 
Oral 
History

    • Pod
 Casting

    • Digital 
Recording

    • The
 Interview
 Copy 
of 
Published
 Memoir


    • Permission 
to 
Post
    • 



Introductory Activities

Published
 memoirs
 to
 read.
 

SESSION ONE:
  1. Discuss with students the significance of stories in history. Explain that stories are one way to gain wisdom and insight. Stories can be told in many different ways: acted out on stage, in film, or on television, sung in a musical or an opera, written in a favorite book, or told orally. Few of us realize the richness of our own family history that can be extracted from those of our older relatives yet living. Ask students if they have ever told stories around the dinner table at family holidays. Hold class discussion about family stories and traditions. Explain that for many cultures, oral tradition is a way of linking the past to the future.
  2. Tell students they will be completing a family oral history in which they will be conducting family interviews. Inform students that they will be starting with their own memoir and oral history.
  3. Read a few short memoirs (list provided). Or this could be used as a culminating project after reading the novel, The Giver or Night, both of which emphasize the importance and wisdom of transferring memories from generation to generation. 


Learning Activities

MATERIALS:

one 
piece 
blank 
paper,
 writing
 utensil,
 computer 
with
 word
 processing
 


SESSION
TWO:

Personal 
Memoir/
Oral 
History:

  1. Tell students they will first be creating a personal memoir. Have students engage in personal story map exercise with folded paper creating 6 quadrants. Each quadrant is to represent a particular time span ( 5 years). Have students write down two important events that took place during that time period in their lives as well as one emotion. It works best to keep each sentence to three or four words. Provide example from own life. Possible events may be:
    • First day of school (e.g., preschool, kindergarten, first grade, middle school, high school) A special family trip or vacation
    • A family event or milestone (birth of a sibling, first car)
    • A personal achievement (e.g., first place in a competition)
    • A personal loss (parents’ divorce) Discuss with students that upon completion of their personal history map they now have an outline for their memoir.
  2. Have students read their personal history maps and see if any event jumps out at them or enlists a particularly strong emotion. They may wish to expand further on that specific event. Or have students go back and write at least two sentences for each event while considering the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, Why, When). Distribute the Memoir Rubric. Have students rewrite their memoir including an introduction using the Rubric as a guide.

SESSION
THREE:

MATERIALS:
 
 Handouts
‐
Memoir
 Rubric,
The
 Interview,
Permission
 to 
Post, 
Electronic 
Publishing

 Digital 
Recording
 Device
 The 
Interview:
  1. Distribute The Interview handout. Explain and discuss each criterion for a successful interview. Have student look over the interview questions provided and choose at least 15 they would like to ask their oldest living relative. Discuss the use of the digital recorder or some other digital audio recording device (mp3 player, ipod, etc.) Inform students they will be conducting an interview with a relative at least a generation older than themselves, transcribing the interview and posting it electronically. Distribute a Permission to Post slip. Assign the interview to be completed by two following class periods.
  2. Using digital recording device have students create an audio of their personal memoir.


SESSION
FOUR:

Transcription/
Interview
 Essay:

  1. After students have conducted their interview. Distribute the Transcribing an Oral History handout. Review with class. Have students start working on their transcriptions.

  2. Distribute the Electronic Publishing handout. Have students upload their audio of their personal memoir along with the audio of their interviewee.
  3. 
Have students upload a picture of themselves and their interviewee or some type of visual representation.


Culminating Activity

SESSION FIVE:
Evaluate using Memoir Rubric, Interview Essay Rubric or Oral History Rubric. Compile 
class
 memoirs 
into 
a 
community
 mosaic 
project 
and
 publish 
to 
internet, 
school 
or 
local 
museum
 webpage.


 


Cross-Curricular Activity

History

What are the origins of a favorite family artifact, food, or tradition? When was this item first introduced in the United States? If originated in the United States, when was it introduced to other regions of the world? What cultural, ethnic or religious significance does this item have in the United States or in other regions of the world? Prepare an illustrated report based on your findings. Include a map that identifies the origins of this item.
Health


Take one family recipe and determine its nutritional value based on an average single serving size (including amount of calories, sodium, sugar, fats and carbohydrates). Investigate and experiment with ingredients that might improve the recipe’s health benefits. Prepare a new recipe based on your findings and address how and why it might be a tasty substitution for the health- conscious. Record an elderly relative reading his/her favorite recipe. Post electronically as a Family Recipe Book
Science


How have advancements in DNA testing affected the way an individual perceives his or her identity, family history and/or cultural history? Investigate the current understanding of DNA testing (how it works, its degree of accuracy and its purposes). Then read the accounts of individuals who have used it to uncover their pasts. Write a reflection paper that addresses your own feelings about what you might hope or expect to find in DNA tests.
Technology


 
Prepare a “How-It-Works” poster of one of the pieces of equipment that were thought to be “state of the art” from a relative that is at least a generation older than yourself. Post electronically to school web page.
Fine
Arts

  1. Design a coat of arms for your family that incorporates elements of your family history. Consult resources that offer explanations of crest symbols such as:
  2. Create a memoir presented as a photographic collage, a painting, or a sculpture. Accompany your work with an artist’s journal explaining why you have chosen the particular method of presentation and analyze your own successes and shortcomings.
  3. Create a movie poster representing your family memoirs. Be sure to include a major slogan, 
 
 the cast of characters and short characterizations for each cast member.




English/Language 
Arts 
Extension





  1. Write a fairy tale or myth using your family oral histories. How might you make your characters fantastical, magical and/or inspirational?
  2. Using your personal story map (step 1: session 2) create a Life Poem. Then read, record and post it electronically. (This could create a class-wide Life Poem project).

Community Connections

Compile class memoirs into a community mosaic project and publish to internet, school, or local museum webpage.