Monday, November 2, 2015

The Great Thanksgiving Listen

One of my new favorite blogs, Doing Social Studies, turned me on to the fact that StoryCorps is hosting "The Great Thanksgiving Listen."

Open to everyone, The Great Thanksgiving Listen is a national assignment to engage people of all ages in the act of listening. The pilot project is specially designed for students ages 13 and over and as part of a social studies, history, civics, government, journalism, or political science class, or as an extracurricular activity. All that is needed to participate is a smartphone and the StoryCorps mobile app.

StoryCorps has been around for awhile--perhaps you've heard clips of interviews on public radio. Their mission is "is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives.We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters."

What’s cool about the Great Thanksgiving Listen?
  • It encourages intergenerational communication.
  • Conducting interviews will allow students to understand differences in historical and contemporary perspectives—and to examine one of my favorite essential questions: “What’s changed and what’s remained the same.”
  • Participants will be able to upload their recordings to the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
  • “In one holiday weekend we will capture an entire generation of American lives and experiences.”

If you haven't heard of StoryCorps, do yourself a favor and check out your website. If you teach students ages 13 and above, and are interested in having them participate in the "Great Thanksgiving Listen," check out #theGreatListen 2015 website to download the Free Teacher Toolkit.

Note: StoryCorps recommends introducing the project at least two weeks prior to Thanksgiving—so now’s the time.

P.S. A number of oral historians I know are ambivalent about StoryCorps or at least want to make clear that StoryCorps interviews are NOT oral history. If you are interested in conducting an oral history project with their students, a good place to start is with the Oral History in the Classroom primer. We’re working on creating an oral history footlocker—which will include digital recorders and lesson plans. Stay tuned.

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