Lesson Plan

Everyone Has a Story: Conducting an Oral History Interview

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade-Twelfth Grade
Anthropology, Civic Engagement, Community, Family Life, History, Journalism, Language Arts, Reading, Writing
3 class periods
Group Size:
Up to 24 (4-8 breakout groups)
National/State Standards:
Colorado Social Studies
5th - 8th grade 1.1
High School 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.2, 3.1
Colorado Reading, Writing, and Communicating
5th-12th grade 1.1, 1.2
oral history, interview


Students will work cooperatively to decide on a topic and investigate it through oral history interviews. Students will understand that everyone has a story.


1. Students will work together to choose one topic to investigate. (This could be one of the subject categories from the website or one that the class chooses that is more specific to your community, centering on a particular significant event, historic building, or tradition.)

2. Students will describe three good questioning and oral history interview techniques.


Oral histories are a good tool for finding out different perspectives, interpretations, and/or experiences of historical events. They can help increase our understanding today of the complexities of history.


recorders, clipboards, pen/pencil, paper



After the student groups give their oral presentations, the class will grade each group's questions and interview techniques using the rubric students generated in step 4. Participation in discussions and completion of the interview and oral presentation will help assess depth of understanding.


A) As part of their oral reports, student groups will create a collage or drawing that represents what they learned in their interview. As each team reports, their drawing will be added to a "quilt" that the class constructs. After all of the oral presentations, the class will discuss what they thought they knew about the topic before the interviews, what they learned from their own interview, and what they understood about the topic after listening to the whole "quilt" of interviews.

B) If you live in the vicinity of the Great Sand Dunes, choose the Great Sand Dunes as the topic for procedure #6. Students should interview an older relative or friend who has visited Great Sand Dunes in years past. Have students transcribe the interesting part of the interview and contribute the text to Hands on the Land.


interview, perspective, questioning, characteristic, history, complexity, diversity

Last updated: February 24, 2015