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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

Early 1900s photographs, news clippings and advertisements from the Bijou Theatre (pronounced bye-joe by the locals) in Wilmington, North Carolina, from the UNC DocSouth "Going to the Show" online digital collection:

In this unit for grade 8, students will research the experience of going to the movies by conducting background research on the moviegoing experience in the early 20th century and then conducting oral history interviews with contemporary student peers and with family and/or friends representative of older generations.

Students will develop an understanding of the moviegoing experience by:

They will then compare and contrast the findings from their interviews, and describe how the moviegoing experience has changed and how it remains the same. The oral histories will be collected into a final project and placed in the school's library for students and teachers to reference and/or study in the future.

A lesson plan for grade 8 Social Studies
By Lisa Speaker



Time Required for Lesson:
Approximately 3-4 weeks. Students will complete several activities including:

  1. Reflecting on the contemporary moviegoing experience.
  2. Researching the moviegoing experience in the early 1900s.
  3. Introduction to and orientation on oral histories.
  4. Practice conducting their first oral history interview: interview 1-2 peer students to get perspective on contemporary moviegoing experience.
  5. Conducting oral history interviews: interview 3-5 family members and/or friends to get perspective on historic moviegoing experience—recommend focus on their "first" remembered moviegoing experiences (number of interviewees is based on teacher's discretion and available time).
  6. Reflecting on the oral histories, comparing and contrasting the moviegoing experience: contemporary (from peers) vs. historic (from family, friends, etc.).
  7. Presentations of their key findings.

Teachers might want to conclude each session with a collective wrap-up discussion and ask students to report back on each activity: What did they find? What was most interesting? What was most surprising? Are there any major questions that their explorations generated? Where might they go to get answers to those questions?

Materials / Resources

Technology Resources

Social Studies - Grade 8
Goal 5: The learner will evaluate the impact of political, economic, social, and technological changes on life in North Carolina from 1870 to 1930.
Objective 5.02: Examine the changing roles of educational, religious, and social institutions in the state and analyze their impact.
Objective 5.04: Identify technological advances and evaluate their influence on the quality of life in North Carolina.

Social Studies - Grade 12
Goal 7: The Progressive Movement in the United States (1890-1914) - The learner will analyze the economic, political, and social reforms of the Progressive Period.
Goal 7.03: Evaluate the effects of racial segregation on different regions and segments of the United States' society.
Goal 7.04: Examine the impact of technological changes on economic, social, and cultural life in the United States.


In this lesson, students will be presented with several example oral histories and some general background information on going to the movies in the early 20th century. Students will use this preliminary orientation and preparation to conduct their own oral history interviews. They will conduct interviews that a) capture the contemporary moviegoing experience, and b) capture the moviegoing experience from the early to the mid-twentieth century, depending on age and availability of family members and/or friends that they can interview.

Key skills for this lesson include:

Teacher preparation includes:

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