Back to Lessons


Suggested Level

Suggested Applications

Middle and High School History, Language Arts

Students will:
• Understand characteristics of research within an oral history.
• Explore and become more knowledgeable about a particular topic.
• Prepare preliminary questions about the topic.
• Prepare a preliminary outline.
• Determine valid primary and secondary resources that will be reliable and up to date for their study.
• Locate information using traditional and electronic search tools, use appropriate sources and strategies.
• Take notes relevant to the topic and document sources.
• Incorporate interviews, observations, and questionnaires as part of the research process.
• Differentiate between plagiarism, paraphrasing, and direct quotation.
• Paraphrase and correctly quote information.
• Classify, organize, and summarize notes and prepare revised outlines.
• Use the critical thinking skill of synthesis by bringing together separate elements from various sources
  and writing the first draft.
• Present information clearly and use precise language.
• Revise for content with fully developed facts/details to support information; organization (introduction citing
  main points, transitions and summary/question for further study or conclusion); and style.
• Edit/proofread for conventions: grammar, mechanics, and usage.
• Prepare final version in the format determined.
• Publish/share/display/present/orally summarize and defend.

Introductory Activity:
After students have conducted their interviews, they will examine the information they have recorded.
Direct them to look for a topic/historical element connected to the interviewee about which the student
will need more information. Have students individually make a list of possible topics to do further research
on, based on their interviews.

Ask students to consider and respond to the following:

1. The one thing I would really like to know more about is . . .
2. A person who can help me is . . .
3. Students should briefly summarize what they already know about the topic (based on the oral history focus): What do I already know?
4. Why is this topic important to me? (E.g. When were women allowed to be part of combat missions?)

Students will write at least five questions they could ask the person they have chosen in order to learn
as much as possible about this individual.

Small Group Activity:
In pairs or triads, students will show their possible topics and questions to another student. Together they will think of more questions.

Whole Group Activity:
The teacher and students will review the topics and list them.

Small Group / Individual Activity:
Students will identify the topic they want to know more about and the person they may interview to
find out more about this topic.

Students will plan and make arrangements for the interview. They will also plan their research strategy.

Individual Activity:
Students will use available resources to do the research. Depending on the teacher’s parameters, they may
write an informational essay or paper about the topic. This research essay/paper will be included in the final
presentation piece for the Oral History project. This presentation project may include the following:

• Various photos of the person interviewed, if available; other pictures that relate to the person or the research topic
• News article about the person
• Research about topic that is connected to the person.

Concluding Activity:

Students will prepare their demonstration of the oral history project through a book, PowerPoint presentation, or
other format. Students will view each of the presentation pieces in a class session. Parents, administrators, and
the interviewees may be invited also.

Students will write a reflection on the work they have done in this project. The reflection should include the
connection to the Medal of Honor recipients and their vision of a hero.

Extended Activity:
Students may create a timeline of the person they interviewed, highlighting significant events.

Research essay/paper, presentation piece, and reflection essay

Examples of a presentation piece could include:
A visual display like the triptych (tri-fold poster board)
“Newspaper” Feature Article plus the research. Use feature articles in the local newspaper as examples
   of this type of writing.
Research Paper
PowerPoint presentation
Other media presentations
Oral History Portfolio

Brown, Cynthia Stokes. Like It Was, A Complete Guide to Writing Oral History. Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 1988.
Dixon, Janice T., Ph.D. Family Focused. Wendover, Nevada: Mount Olympus Publishing, 1997.
Koenig, Mary Jane. Oral History Projects: An Approach to Discovery Learning. Erie, PA: The School District, City of Erie, PA, 2001. (handbook)
Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty. NY: Artisan, 2006.
Oral History Project. Pennsylvania Department of Education and Governor’s Institute for Language Arts, 2000. (CD)
Stillman, Peter R. Families Writing. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books, 1996.
A few examples of Internet sites for Timelines:

Quote: "To be an American comes with many rights, privileges, and responsibilities. It is our duty to honor, defend
              and preserve them for future generations."
- Richard A. Pittman, Marine Corps, Vietnam War