ORAL HISTORIES In The CLASSROOM - HistoryLink

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ORAL HISTORIES in the CLASSROOMCourtesy FoGHA Curriculum and Project Guide for Secondary School Students“I love you youth. You are the future. To see you, I feel so great – I have no worryabout these United States. I have no worry about the world. Just leave it to theyoung people. You’ll handle it. You’ll do a better job because of your exposure ofeducation is wider and greater. I love you, young men and women – I really do –that may sound difficult for you to believe, but love has that power – you’d besurprised how the word “love’ grabs you all.”—Carl Caruli 2006 (CHS oral history interview excerpt)

ORAL HISTORIES in the CLASSROOM: A Curriculum and Project Guide forSecondary School StudentsPrepared by Patricia Filer with the assistance of the students of Cleveland High School andtheir English and Drama teacher Faith BeattyCopyright 2008This project was made possible by grants from the King County 4Culture Heritage CulturalEducation Program and the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. This curriculumguide has been updated and posted on HistoryLink.org through a partnership betweenHistoryLink.org and 4Culture’s Heritage Cultural Education Program.Additional copies of this guide may be downloaded from fm?DisplayPage study aids/index.cfm2

Table of ContentsOral Histories in the Classroom5The FOGH/Cleveland High School Project Description6What made this project successful?How to get started with this type of project?Ethnic Heritage Conference articleCelebrating Georgetown ProgramStudent/Teacher statementsOral Histories in the Classroom: Basics13Project GoalsProject Performance ObjectivesProject Long–range objectivesEquipment and materials neededBasic budgetWashington State EALRSAlignment to Washington State CBAsAdditional ResourcesStudent Curriculum and Project Guide21Introduction to oral historyIdentifying project objectivesStudent Assignment ChecklistProject checklistIdentifying and contacting Oral History candidatesPreparing for the interview: Preparing questions and conducting researchConducting the interviewAfter the interviewEditing interviewUsing interview transcripts to create a Readers Theater projectUsing interview transcripts to create an Exhibit projectWhat other projects could be created with interview transcriptsPlanning Program to Share Projects Products; press release, invitations,programsHosting eventFinalizing projectVocabulary3

Teacher’s Guide/ Intro92Why should I use this project?Are there options for integrating this type of oral history project into thecurriculum?Would there be extra time required of me to do such a project?What types of school or community venues might be good platforms to theproducts of an oral history?Do you have any suggestions for possible topics that would be good to explore inan oral history projectWhat can we do with the oral history interviews?Should I invite volunteers to help with this project?Are there any specific professional practices that I will need to use?Sample Oral History Interview Release FormSample Loan or Donation FormSample Photo Release Form for StudentsSample Oral History Checklist FormSample Storyteller Data Form4

Oral Histories in the ClassroomOral history interviews have been widely recognized by many historians as a uniqueand distinctive technique by which to document the history of a specific individual,family, organization or group, community, time-period, or event. Each new oralhistory interview is a new primary resource - a rare record of one-of-a kind firsthand historical and anecdotal information in the storyteller’s own voice.This activity is still relatively a rarely used approach by which to study andappreciate history in most high school classes. This is due to a variety of factorsincluding lack of 1) teacher education or experience; 2) relevance to today’scurriculum demands; and/or, 3) time and budget. However, for many students,non-traditional approaches to discovering and interpreting traditional subjects, suchas history or communications, are essential to encourage continued interest andinvolvement in educational endeavors.Listening and responding to first-hand stories can literally bring history to life forsometimes disinterested or special needs students. Teaching students to plan for oralhistory-related activities carefully, and guiding and encouraging positivecommunication and inter-personal skills will promote a rewarding sense ofsatisfaction and achievement for most participants.Courtesy FoGHTo be most effective and manageable, the project should be carefully planned andimplemented. This curriculum activity and information guide was developed toprovide appropriate materials and resources for a meaningful and successfuleducation experience.CHS student Dion with storyteller Don Hammer, 20065

The Cleveland High SchoolOral History and Readers Theater ProjectSometimes great projects are unplanned. When a key volunteer for the Friends ofGeorgetown History (FOGH) oral history project was unable to conduct interviews that hadbeen identified as part of the deliverables of a Department of Neighborhoods Small andSimple grant, veteran Cleveland High School English and Drama teacher Faith Beatty wascontacted. By chance, Beatty had told a FOGH colleague that she was interested inintroducing oral history activities into her curriculum.Over two semesters, spanning two different school years and groups of students, projectworksheets, activities, and timelines for using oral history interviews in the classroom weredeveloped and tested by FOGH Project Manager Patricia Filer with Beatty’s partnership.Research and oral history technique lesson plans were designed to encourage students tolearn about history of their community through carefully planned interviews and to promotepersonal relationship skills between different ages, cultures, and socio-economic groups. Thesequential lessons and activities compiled in this curriculum project guide will also advanceskills in organization and meeting deadlines and will complement the Washington StateCBAs and EALRS for each class involved.To make the research project of interest to the students, there needed to be an additionalhook. Filer and Beatty decided to have students identify those interview former ClevelandHigh School subjects who still live in Georgetown or had lived there when they were growingup. Using Cleveland High School alumni events, especially well-attended programs such theone held just before the closing of Cleveland High School for renovation, a list of potentialinterview subjects was gathered. Alumni newsletters and class email lists were also used toidentify potential subjects. The oral history interviews not only revealed one-of-a kindinformation about Cleveland High School from days gone by, but also of the unique anddiverse culture and history of the Cleveland High School neighborhoods that fed thesestudents to their high school through the years.The CHS/FOGH project unintentionally paired two melting pots: 1) a community whoselong-time residents were first and second generation immigrants who settled in Georgetownfrom countries such as Italy, Yugoslavia, Croatia, and Denmark, and 2) a class of publicschool students the many of whom are second generation Asian, Spanish, SE Asian, and ahost of other nationalities. It paired two separate generations who knew little about eachother but learned respect and appreciation for each other’s lives, struggles, andachievements through organized and well-planned conversations. The participants wereneighbors, classmates, and friends -- members of an ethnic community not a specific ethnicgroup. The interviews conducted by the students yielded an incredibly rich wealth of storiesabout the neighborhood that adjoined their school, as told from one generation of ClevelandHigh School students to another.This project produced a product whose information could be used by students in English,Drama, History, Computer, Journalism, or Art classes. It produced a product that could beshared in many ways with the school and the community. It produced a product that6

resulted in respect and appreciation for those who are different in age, race, culture, orsocio-economic groups – and in unexpected but genuine friendships.The final product of the project is a secondary-level curriculum guide/syllabus designedto teach research and oral history techniques to secondary students. This curriculum isavailable in a hard copy spiral bound notebook style workbook in all Seattle Public Schoolhigh school libraries, and on the HistoryLink.org website Study Aids page, found athttp://www.historylink.org/Index.cfm?DisplayPage study aids/index.cfm This curriculumencourages collaboration between independent heritage specialists, community organizationmembers and/or volunteers, and public high school educators to develop and revise nontraditional programs for today’s student. With current limited funding available for specialclasses or projects in Seattle’s public schools, this project serve as example to encourageeducators to “look outside the box”, and to take advantage of heritage/cultural specialistsand projects supported by King County’s Heritage 4 Culture program and other grantors.The final curriculum is also an additional resource for secondary school teachers of English,Speech, Drama, and Communications. Using the research and oral history informationgenerated through lessons and activities, the curriculum will also encourage cooperativeproducts in classes such as Art or Computers.This successful collaboration between the Friends of Georgetown History (FOGH) andCleveland High School students resulted not only obtaining oral history interviews for theFOGH Research Project, but served as a venue for promoting positive intergenerational andintercultural relationships in the community. Student exhibit panels featuring excerpts fromthe stories obtained during oral history interviews have been displayed at community eventssuch as the Georgetown Art and Garden Tour, the Seattle Architectural Tour of Georgetown,the Dedication of OxBow Park, and at HistoryHouse in Fremont. Selected studentspresented excerpts from the oral history interviews in the form of a Readers Theater at acommunity event sponsored by FOGH called Celebrating Georgetown (see page 11) and alsoat the Ethnic Heritage Conference (see pages 9-10).What Contributed to this Project’s Success Cooperative school partner,Non-traditional approach to classroom materials for special needs students,Well-planned student activities,Common high school link between students and interview subjects,Intergenerational activities stressed appropriate speaking and conversational skills,Organizational and social skills applicable to other aspects of student life (work, family,sports), Bond developed between interview subjects and student interviewers,Opportunity for organization, school, and students to showcase project results/skills incommunity events and to be recognized outside school, andOutside/supplemental funding available through a 4Culture Education grant and a DON(City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods ) grant.7

How to get Started with this Type of Project: Study available curriculum and/or project needs. There are good examples in the 4CultureCurriculum and Resource Library. Contact 4Culture.org to schedule appointment. Develop a project plan including realistic scope of project, timeline, budget, and goals for finalproduct(s). Identify and cultivate a working relationship with school/teacher before committing to a majorproject. Have a good working knowledge of Washington State EALRS and CBAs (classroom-basedassessments), and be sure that your heritage education projects are aligned with theseexpectations. Attend conferences, workshops, and consult with OSPI and Heritage 4Culture. Prepare an honest and reasonable budget for professional services, consultant fees, materials, etc.that will not be supplied by organization, school, or by in-kind services. Apply for funding ifapplicable. Create an advisory board made up of professionals and volunteers who can provide personalskills, expertise, and materials, as well as serve as a source of referrals for project needs –including identifying oral history interview subjects. Make sure to include other teachers in theschool, alumni representatives, students’ family members, and representatives from local heritageand community organizations. Create a means of communicating with students’ families to include them in the project and toinform them of possible after-school or weekend activities (interviews or presentations) that theirchildren may be participating in. Ask for help in transportation issues or other volunteeractivities needed for the project. Create a network by which to get the information out about what it is that you are doing and whatit is that volunteers can help with. Don’t forget church bulletins, alumni newsletters, communitynewspapers, announcements that can be read at school functions and community meetings, andnotices that can be sent home to families, to other classmates, or to local retirement homes. Letpeople know what projects you will be working on and create a list of things that volunteers cando to help with the project. Don’t take volunteers and create projects for them to work on – askthem to fit into what it is that you need. Re-visit your project goals regularly and measure progress. Find more help or replace volunteersif need. Showcase your students’ project results in a format that can be appreciated by the school andcommunity. Look for someone who might help plan and host such an event well in advance. Remember that times have changed and school policies and classrooms have changed since youwent to school. Celebrate the differences. Do not use your participation to try to do it “the oldway” or commiserate about kids these days.8

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