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Telling History

Methodology and Presentation

Newsweek has very successfully used the folder format in designing classroom activities based on the contents of its publication. I believe a similar format would be ideal for the storage and presentation of oral history excerpts to supplement classroom curriculums.

I've prepared a sample of how I envision the presentation using the Depression as the topic. The two oral history excerpts contained in the folder were edited and selected from those I collected. In this prototype, the topic information is from only one source. My preference would be for a well-qualified and experienced history teacher to prepare the general topic information geared to curriculums and create questions and student activities related to the topic.

The oral history excerpts would be filed as tearsheets in the topic folder. The folder would be printed with topic information for the students, with student activities using the excerpts included. The oral history excerpts could be keyworded and contain cross references to Library of Congress cataloguing information for students who wanted to research the topic further, as well as related web sites.

To tie together the entire set of topic folders, I would prepare a companion guide on the role of storytelling in learning. I understand that there is an interest in storytelling as performance and the part folktales play in children's grappling with human problems. However, the true nature of the role of storytelling in human learning remains widely unrecognized.

The intent of this multilayered presentation is to provide a format for several different levels of use by both teachers and students. The diagram here graphically represents these various parts of the proposed project.

Some reviewers have commented that the materials are really too advanced for the fifth and sixth grades, where state histories are usually taught, but I think these comments reflect a perspective that underestimates the curiosity and abilities of students when they are truly interested in something. Oral histories, after all, are generally recorded in plain, everyday language even a fifth or sixth grader could understand.

This criticism also reflects a lack of understanding of the power of story, especially for younger children. These materials could be used in greater depth with high school history classes, with more complicated activities and questions geared to older students.

The links below provide details of the project, plus sample materials.

small blue squareIntroduction

small blue squareScope and Purpose

small blue squareSimilar and Related Works

small blue squareWriting Sample

small blue squareBack to Book Proposals

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