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Oral History Project: How do we make an Oral History? (Part 3 of 7)


Language Arts, CHamoru, Oral History


Elementary, 3-5

Time required

60-75 minutes (This can be separated among two days.)

Materials required

  • Flipchart or chalk board
  • Markers or chalk

Related background reading


Related documents


Related links


Story Corps

Lesson Plan


With this lesson, students will begin to formulate the steps needed to undertake an oral history. They will also begin brainstorming on topics for the class final project.


  • Students will identify the steps needed to complete an oral history.
  • Students will plan their oral history project.
  • Students will practice questioning skills by playing a game.
  • Students will practice interviewing a teacher about a specific topic.

Questions or Assessment

  • How are oral histories developed?
  • What specific steps can we take in order to create one?
  • What should we focus upon for our class oral history?


Teacher prep

Game (6 minutes)

  1. Repeat the game from the previous lesson by citing unique information about a student and asking the class to identify the individual
  2. Recap with students the significance of oral information, and how they have retained the information from the previous day through oral means.

How are Oral Histories Done? (15 minutes)

  1. Ask students what sort of work they think goes into an oral history (ex. “recording”, “research”).
  2. Ask students to help reorder the list they’ve made into steps.
  3. Guide students until they arrive at the following outline (additions to this list are okay)
    • Background research
    • The interview (who, types of questions, what are we aiming to understand)
    • Transcribing
    • Dissemination (archiving, publishing, radio)

Plan Our Oral History Project (15 minutes)

  1. Use outline from previous activity as a guideline for student project
  2. Develop the guidelines into steps for project (guide students to create the following outline)
    • Pick topic (ex. WWII, Coral Reef Fish of Guam, Baseball on Guam)
      • Bonus: Have students first browse through Guampedia to compile a list of interesting topics to study. (Add 15 minutes if you choose to do this.)
    • Pick person
    • Research
    • Identify things to learn
    • Develop questions
    • Transcribe
    • Share
  3. With time permitting, begin brainstorming and expanding on things (ex. Ask kids how we should share the oral histories)
  4. Label the steps as a “checklist”, and refer back to this checklist in future lessons

Game – 20 Questions (10 minutes)

  1. Teacher thinks of an object, and students attempt to figure it out by asking up to 20 questions. The aim is to teach students to direct their questioning from broad to focused (from “is it a living thing?” to “is it a gecko?”).
  2. Recap that we’ve practiced directed/focused questioning.

Practice Interviewing (10 minutes)

  1. Students practice questioning skills by interviewing teacher on a specific topic (ex. Her trip to China, Her new puppy). Remind students during interview to practice the skills learned in previous game.
  2. Recap interview. Highlight areas students excelled and areas in need of improvement.

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

“We’ve determined what goes into making an oral history, what we need to do to complete our project, and practiced our interviewing skills.”

Ask students for their favorite parts of the lesson.