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Oral History Project: Preparing for our oral history (Part 5 of 7)


Language Arts, CHamoru, Oral History


Elementary, 3-5

Time required

45 minutes

Materials required

  • Flipchart or chalk board
  • Markers or chalk

Related background reading


Related documents


Related links

Lesson Plan


In this lesson students will develop an understanding of how their subject will likely guide the interview and practice their interview skills.


  • Students will understand how oral history interviewees themselves largely guide the interview.
  • Students will develop a list of guidelines and goals for an interview.
  • Student will practice interviewing for an extended period of time.


Teacher prep
Teacher reviews list previously developed by students of potential topics for interviewing.

Listening Game: Round Robin Follow-ups (10 minutes)

  1. One student agrees to tell one story.
  2. Sitting in a circle, the second student has to ask a question related to the story.
  3. Students go around the circle and ask questions related to the response given to the previously asked question.
  4. During this time, the teacher notes the questions, their directions, and summarizes at the end where the questioning went by the end.
    • “What we did today was focus very carefully on what the person before said. Today, we will have to do that as we practice our interviewing because oral history interviewing is a special kind of interviewing.”

Lesson Recap/Oral History Mini-Lesson (10 minutes)

  1. Review that in the previous lessons students discussed the meaning of oral history:
    • “Last week we talked about what an oral history is. What did we decide an oral history was? . . . Last week we also practiced interviewing, like you see on television. Well, those are great ways to get information from people. But oral history is a little different, and requires different kinds of interviewing skills.”
  2. Review oral history components:
    • Journalism = Seeking information (telling what happened).
    • Oral history = Seeking information (searching for information).
    • Oral history is about discovery! It’s about letting your interviewee guide you to information!
    • “Think of an oral history guest speaker as a big frog. This frog starts out on one lilypad. You ask a question, and the frog can jump to many different lilypads (or topics). For the frog to move, you have to ask a question about that lilypad (topic). In other words, you let the frog’s jumping show you how to ask the question.”

Interview Goal Setting (10 minutes)

  1. As a group, students develop a list of guidelines for their interview of the teacher. (e.g. Sit upright, don’t talk over one another, ask follow-up questions).
  2. As a group, the students list goals for the interview (e.g. We want to learn about fashion in China).

Practice Interviewing (15 minutes)

  1. Students practice questioning skills by interviewing teacher on a specific topic (ex. His/her trip to China, his/her new puppy).
  2. Encourage pairs of students to cover their topic areas.

Pause and Reflect (5 minutes)

  1. Pausing the interview, ask students to reflect on what went well, and what needs improvement.
  2. If needed, students can suggest how to improve the direction of the interview.

Continue Practice Interview (15 minutes)

  1. Students continue the interview.
  2. Recap interview. Highlight areas students excelled and areas in need of improvement.

Analyzing Interview (10 minutes)

  1. Using the previously created “guidelines” and “goals” lists, the students determine whether they met their objectives.
  2. Ideas and suggestions are made in preparation for the upcoming interview with a CHamoru elder.

Recap (3 minutes)
Recap what we’ve done and learned in the lesson:

“We’ve developed a list of interview topics and questions, and determined at a plan to do the necessary background research.”

Ask students for their favorite parts of the lesson.