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Going to the Show: Lesson Plans

Conduct your own oral history project

Introduction  |   Activities 1 - 3  |   Activities 4 - 6  |   Oral History Record Packet  |   Learn More

Activity 4: Practicing oral history

1. Give students time to listen to and explore oral histories online, especially student oral history projects (see the Learn More page for examples). Have students take notes on things they observe in the oral histories that do or do not work well, especially good or effective questions, questions that seem to get short answers, techniques for encouraging the speaker to continue talking, the tone of voice used by the interviewer and interviewee throughout the interviews, and so on.
For additional examples, students may want to listen to the complete oral histories referenced in the Materials/Resources section in the Introduction.

2. Divide the students into groups of 3. Give each group a copy of the "Conducting an Oral History" student packet.

3. Students should review the "Question Guidelines" and "Interviewing Guidelines" found in the Conducting an Oral History student packet. Optionally, provide students with the "Moviegoing Oral History Sample Questions," also found in the Conducting an Oral History student packet.

4. Students prepare 5-10 questions that they want to ask their fellow students regarding their movie viewing/moviegoing experience. Have them focus on general areas such as:

Create a brief questionnaire form that has the questions. Leave space to record notes related to the interviewee's responses to each question.

5. Conduct contemporary peer interviews with classmates.

5a. Once the students are prepared, have them conduct their contemporary peer interviews using the other two members of their group as interviewees. Each student will conduct two interviews, interviewing each of their fellow two students to capture their moviegoing experiences. During the interview, the third person in the group will transcribe notes. It will help the transcriber if the interviewer can provide the questions that they want to ask. Be sure to leave some blanks for spontaneous questions that may arise during the course of the interview. For a group of 3 students, allot approximately 10 minutes per interview. Using this schedule, all 6 interviews can be conducted in approximately an hour.

5b. If students are going to use recording devices, allow them to use these interviews to practice using the tape recorders. Teachers may want to conduct this activity twice: interview two students once without recording devices to give students practice conducting an interview, and then interview 2 other students, for which the interviews will be recorded. Students would then have 4 oral histories.

6. At the conclusion of a student's interviews, have the group debrief and discuss what worked well (e.g. what kinds of questions were best) and what could have been improved (e.g. what questions didn't get very rich answers).

7. After all students have completed their interviews, have a wrap-up class discussion in which students can share with the rest of the class what worked well and what wasn't as effective.

8. Have students revisit their interview questions and evaluate and modify as necessary to prepare to conduct their "historical" moviegoing experience interviews.

Activity 5: Becoming oral historians

This activity may take one to two weeks to complete.

1. Students will now go outside the classroom to conduct their "historical" interviews. Have students identify 3 candidate interviewees for submission to the teacher. Have the students specify their relationship with the interviewee. To assist in the recording and transcribing tasks, teachers may want to pair students up. However, this would require more coordination for the scheduling of the actual interviews. Students should plan to spend approximately 30 minutes with each interviewee.

2. The teacher reviews the interviewees and determines if release forms will be needed. The teacher may need to assist students who are having difficulty finding interview candidates.

3. Students prepare their questions. The teacher may or may not want to review each student's interview plan.

4. Students conduct their interviews. Students record their interviews either in writing and/or audio recording.
The teacher will need to determine if students will use recording devices and how these will be made available for students outside of the classroom. Alternatively, teachers could have students invite interviewees to the classroom and have students interview them there.

5. Shortly following the completion of the interview, while the interview is still fresh in their memory, students should revisit their interview notes and add any additional comments, observations or embellishments to their interview notes.

6. Those students who audiotaped their interviews should transcribe their interviews so that they are available in a readable, textual format.

Activity 6: Reflecting on the oral history

In this activity, students will reflect individually on the interviews they conducted, as well as share their interviews within groups of three.

1. The students should listen to each of their oral histories or read through their interview notes and consider the following questions as they listen to or read their notes:

2. The students will prepare a summary of all of their interviews, including both the contemporary and historic oral histories. In this summary they will compare and contrast the contemporary moviegoing experience with the historic moviegoing experience. They should identify key similarities and key differences. They will document their key reflections.

3. The students will present to the class their key findings, highlighting the similarities and differences between contemporary and historic moviegoing experiences, what they found most interesting, and what they found most surprising.


Introduction  |   Activities 1 - 3  |   Activities 4 - 6  |   Oral History Record Packet  |   Learn More