Oral History of the Local Community
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Grade: 1st - 6th grade
Class: English Language Arts
Author: Sue Norris
Indian Lake Central School
NYS Content Area Standard:
English Language Arts:
Standard 4: Language for Social Interaction
NYS Interdisciplinary Standard:
Adirondack Curriculum Content Area:
Human History
Performance Indicators:

ELA Standards #4 Language for social interaction, #1 language for information and understanding, and #2 language for literary response and expression.

Keywords: oral history
The Challenge:
Investigative Question or Issue: What was it like to live in our local community over the last 80 years?

This challenge is designed to be given to an entire class. Part of the challenge is for students to recognize the need to gain access to the various kinds of recording technologies required to put together an oral history. The teacher will want to make sure a videocamera, tape recording device,  and digital camera are all available. The teacher will also want to be completely comfortable with guiding students in the use of this equipment.

The Challenge:

As a class, organize, plan, and create a written history based on interviews and photographs of local people who have lived in our community over the past 80 years.

This written history might take the form of a class book that is composed of articles that information gleaned from interviews with local people and includes photographs or illustrations that depict scenes from their stories.

As you begin to make plans for this project, discuss each of the following questions below with your teacher. Use these discussions to make decisions about how you will go about completing your work.

•Focus questions for your work:

What are the various tasks that need to be completed to create a class book of oral interviews and illustrations about people who have lived in your community over the past 80 years? Who in your class might want to do these various tasks?

Who might be the people to interview in your community? How will you contact them and make arrangements to record their stories?

What technology do you have available to record your interviews and/or pictures (video camera, tape machine, digital camera)? How will you learn how to operate these devices properly?

When you conduct a formal interview, what roles need to be filled so that the interview goes smoothly and you get the information you need?

What questions you will ask when you conduct your interviews? What skills might you need to practice so you are a good interviewer (questioning, responding, encouraging, probing)?

• How will your notes from these interviews be organized? Who you write them up?

What will be the final form of your class book? How will it be organized - by topic (family life, work, play, etc.), by individual interview, etc? Will it be typed, hand written? Will it have a cover page, table of contents, etc.?

Who will write up, edit, and make decisions about the final form of the various articles and illustrations of your book?

As you go about putting your book together, remember that careful planning and attention to detail are very important. Whatever articles you write should be in proper form (topic sentence, body, and conclusion) and display correct spelling and grammar. Please make sure the stories you tell and information you include are accurate.

All members of the class are expected to participate in the process of creating the book and do their fair share of the work.

We will discuss in class how much time you will have to complete this challenge.

Quality Standards:
  • Student participates in writing up articles for the project
  • Student participates in the planning stages of the project
  • Student participates in the interview process of the project
  • Student participates in writing up articles for the project
  • Student participates in the final stages of production of articles and illustrations
  • Article(s) written in proper form - spelling, grammer, etc.
  • Article(s) communicate accurate information
Product Quality Checklist
Print This Checklist
Standard/Criteria: Points Possible: Points Awarded:

Student participates in the planning stages of the project

  • Shares opinions in discussion
  • Attends to details
  • Shows evidence of doing his/her best


Student participates in the interview process of the project  - plays role assigned to best of ability


Student participates in writing up articles for the project

  • Takes notes
  • Transcribes notes


Articles written in proper form - (topic sentence, body, conclusion)


Articles have correct spelling and grammar


Articles are accurate in factual detail


Student contributes to final stage of production of articles or illustrations

Choose 2 of 3

  • Typing into computer
  • Editing process
  • Layout of book


Above & Beyond


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