Oral History Project

What is an oral history? (Part 2 of 7)
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Language Arts, CHamoru, Oral History


Elementary, 3-5

Time required

65 minutes (This can be separated into two classes.)

Materials required

  • Flipchart or chalk board
  • Markers or chalk
  • Paper
  • CD player and speakers or Internet connection and Guampedia

Related background reading


Related documents


Related links


Lesson Plan


With this lesson, students will begin to think about the term “oral history”, what it means, and how they are effective.


  • Students will be introduced to an example of oral history
  • Students will begin thinking about the significance of oral history
  • Students will arrive at personal and group definitions of “oral history”
  • Students will practice interviewing each other (work on interviewing and listening skills)


  • What is an oral history?
  • Where do oral histories come from?
  • Who creates oral histories?


Teacher prep
1. Obtain an audio recording of an oral history. The StoryCorps link is useful, or play the audio portion of an appropriate Guampedia Arts video.

Game (6 minutes)

  • A student is chosen as leader
  • He/she claps hands in a unique rhythm
  • The class repeats the sounds in unison
  • The student chooses a new leader, and the process is repeated

Oral History Example (10 minutes)

  • Play a short example of an oral history recording to the student
  • Ask children how the recording made them feel. “What did you learn?”
  • Highlight ability of oral histories to convey history
  • “Did it make you laugh/cry?” “Did it make you want to learn more?”
  • Emphasize emotional power of recordings

Defining Oral History – Personal Understanding (15 minutes)
1. Ask kids to express on a piece of paper their definition/understanding of “oral history” (students will not have correct understandings of “oral history”… this is okay and welcomed… students will return to these definitions at the end of the unit in order to see how much they have learned)

2. Share a few of the personal definitions with the class

Defining Oral History – Group Understanding (10 minutes)
1. Write common terms and ideas from personal definitions onto flip chart

2. From terms and ideas, arrive at group definition for “oral history” on flip chart

Interviewing Peers (15 minutes)
1. Separate into pairs, and one student interviews the other on a topic for 5 min.

2. Switch roles, and repeat interview for 5 min.

3. Come together as a group and have each student recount their partner’s story

Game (6 minutes)
1. Teacher compiles a list of facts from the student’s stories in the previous activity

2. Ask students as a group to identify the person to which the fact applies (e.g. “Who’s favorite food is pizza?”).

Recap (4 minutes)
Recap what we’ve done and learned in the lesson:

“We’ve listened to an oral history, learned that oral histories are powerful conveyors of history, come up with a group definition, practiced interviewing, and worked on our listening skills.”

Ask students for their favorite parts of the lesson.