Unit Three: Conducting Oral Histories
Objectives: Students will learn the reasons for conducting oral histories, how to develop interview questions and they will practice oral history interviewing procedures. Students will conduct oral histories with long-term watershed residents.
NOTE: Prior to conducting these lessons, identify potential interviewees. Ideally for this project, the interviewees should be long-term watershed residents, i.e. someone who has lived in the watershed (your community) for more than 15 years. The interviewees should be willing to speak about environmental conditions and/or have recollections of weather events, animal sightings, general good stories about their life in the watershed.
Schedule interviews with the interviewees with enough time for students to practice their interviewing skills.
Lesson 3.1 – What is an oral history?
Materials: Oral History Intro PowerPoint, copies of Student Oral History Handbook (adapted) from the Vail Preservation Society.
- Present PowerPoint slides to students or show this three-minute YouTube video as an introduction to oral histories.
- Read from the Oral History Handbook
Extension: To help familiarize students with oral histories, conduct this lesson that incorporates oral histories with drought impacts. Students read brief experts from oral histories by people living in southern Arizona to learn about how drought affected their lives.
Lesson 3.2 – Developing interview questions about the watershed
Materials: Good Questions PowerPoint, poster-sized paper, markers
- Remind students that they will be conducting interviews to learn about past conditions in the watershed. What do we want to know? First we’ll cover what makes a good interview question, then we’ll develop some interview questions for our oral histories.
- Review slides with students, making sure they understand the difference between open-ended vs. closed questions.
- Play the Question game at the end of the Good Questions PowerPoint.
- Identify three or four themes around which students can develop interview questions.
Lesson 3.3 – Interview etiquette and procedures
- Interview procedure sort
- Students practice