Saturday, May 23, 2015

Oral History Project/Exhibit

published on: 2/28/2003

Contributing Teacher(s): Debra Workman

Subject Area: Tech Prep/Arts and Communications

Grade Range: High School (9-12)

Materials Needed:

  • Writing utensils
  • tape recorder and tape
  • access to students/equipment in business and photography classes

Objective: See objectives below.

Process Standards:

  • Goal 1.10 apply acquired information, ideas and skills to different contexts as students, workers, citizen
  • Goal 2.7 use technological tools to exchange information and ideas

Content Standards:

  • Communication Arts 6. Participating in formal and informal presentations and discussions of issues and ideas
  • Social Studies 3. Principles and processes of governance systems

    Time Allowance: See time table below.

    Description: A government class along with a photography class and a business class will produce an oral history unit of the local community.

    Comments: In participation with Mid Rivers Tech Prep Consortium.

    Classroom Component: History slips through our fingers every day. The history of the common man - the stories and photographs of people in our local community - is rarely described in history books. Yet the stories of these men and women can inform, surprise, and inspire us. They are, in fact, the very features of history to which each of us can relate. They are, as one archivist said, "the threads of universal understanding and truth that run through all times." And often these stories (histories) are lost forever to future generations simply because no one took the time to document them.

    A government class, along with a photography class and a business class, will produce an oral history project and exhibit. Its purpose is to identify the varied jobs/services performed by your town''s city officials and to document their record for future generations. We will create primary documents for an exhibit to help present and future citizens better understand what is special and what is universal about our community.

    In addition to preserving a part of our history, this project will enable students to develop a number of important technical and social skills that are applicable to many future career choices.


    This project will allow students to:

  • Investigate and analyze the council-administrator plan of city government.
  • Identify key ways city government serves its residents.
  • Create a primary source document.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use team player skills.
  • Demonstrate the ability to speak and write the English language effectively.
  • Demonstrate the ability to listen effectively.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use effective negotiation skills.
  • Demonstrate the ability to manage time effectively.
  • Demonstrate the ability to utilize basic technology: tape recorder with microphone, transcriber, word processor, camera, photograph developing equipment.
  • Describe the importance of deadlines and schedules.
  • Cite examples of jobs that are inter-related with other jobs.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use good public speaking skills.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use supervisory and delegation skills.
  • Describe the importance of producing quality and effective work.
  • Describe the importance of exhibiting good attitude, enthusiasm, integrity.
  • Interdisciplinary Curriculum Description

    The government class will conduct taped interviews with local government officials. Students will be responsible for developing a coordinated list of appropriate questions, contacting the officials to set-up the interviews, and conducting the interviews. (Each student/small group will select or be assigned one official to interview.)

    For their interview, each student will prepare a one-page biographical/professional summary of the person interviewed to give to the photography class teacher and send their tape to the Advanced Business class to be transcribed.

    From the biographical summary, student photographers will consider how best to interpret each official''s interests and profession. They will arrange to take the photographs, develop them and have them mounted suitable for display.

    From the tapes, the Business class will transcribe hard copies. After a preliminary copy of each interview is ready, the government student, who conducted the interview, will meet with the transcriber to compare his/her notes and memories with the transcript. Both students should agree to the accuracy of the transcript. The interviewer will re-contact the city official for clarification if necessary.

    As a team, the interviewer, the photographer, and the transcriber will select quotations from the interview that best interpret the official''s role in local government. The written quotations will accompany the photographs in the exhibit.

    Timetable Involvement in this project will be ongoing throughout the semester. Time required per class will vary.
    Tentative Dates:
    Week of August 25: Confirm that city officials are willing to participate.
    September 9: Teacher and students (if possible) will attend city council meeting to answer questions about the project and ask for council approval and participation.
    Week of October 13: Interview completed.
    Week of October 20: Photography class receives biographical sketches and transcribing class received tapes. (1st quarter ends Oct. 23)
    Week of November 17:        Photographs ready for display and final transcript prepared.
    Week of December 1: Team collaboration of interpretation and display completed.
    Week of December 15: Project completed - Photographs and written interpretation ready for display. (Semester ends Dec. 23) Written evaluation of finished exhibit and individual self-evaluation.
    Prior Knowledge Required

    Government students will study a unit on local government and participate in mock interviews prior to conducting their interview.

    Business students and photography students will acquire knowledge and practice in their content areas through first quarter curriculums.

    Collecting Oral Histories Role of Government Student Learn About Your Subject

    It is important to learn a little bit about your subject beforehand, so that you can create good questions. For our project, learn what type of local government your town has. When was the town founded? How long has the city operated under this form of government? What other factors may have influenced the character and development of city government? And since you will be interviewing individuals within city government, learn something about the person before the interview. Has the person lived in this town their entire life? Do you know members of their family? Find a way to build a rapport with the person being interviewed. People are more willing to talk freely if they feel comfortable and at ease with the interviewer.

    Compose a Page or Two of Questions

    Brainstorm a list of all the questions you would like your interviewee to answer and all the stories you would like for him/her to tell. Ask for descriptions of places, people, events, a time. Ask about changes in government or their profession. Ask questions which anticipate future readers interests by focusing on how things are different than they used to be.

    Avoid questions that can be answered by "yes" or "no". Compose questions which will allow the interviewee to respond with a story or monologue. However, if you get a short answer (a "yes" or a "no"), you can always say, "Tell me more about that."

    After you have made

    For additional information contact :
    Debra Workman

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