'Great Thanksgiving Listen' Induces High Schoolers to Interview Elders

Great Thanksgiving Listen from StoryCorps and Digital Promise 

What are you proudest of?
What advice would you give to your younger self?
What are you most grateful for?

Those are just three questions proposed for students to ask their elders during this year's "Great Thanksgiving Listen," a project of StoryCorps and Digital Promise. The idea is that while interviewing somebody over the holiday break, high schoolers will develop their skills in storytelling, interviewing, speaking and editing. The results may then be uploaded to the Library of Congress' StoryCorps Archive in the American Folklife Center.

StoryCorps' mission is to build connections among people and teach the value of listening by encouraging them to hold and record interviews with others. Digital Promise promotes the use of education technology to help all students learn.

To help teachers introduce this holiday activity to their students, the program has a teacher toolkit and app for Apple and Google devices. According to the lesson plan, the project takes between two and five hours in class and one to three hours outside of class, including the time needed to conduct the interview. Time in the class is spent going over how StoryCorps works, preparing for the interview and identifying "what to ask, which can come off of a prepared "great questions list."

Although the work adheres to Common Core standards for English language arts, the organizers reported, it's appropriate for any number of courses, including American history, social studies, journalism, drama, English as a second language, media and technology.

The app, which is free, provides help in preparing questions, advice on finding the right environment for a conversation, and tips for creating a high-quality interview. It also includes direction for publishing the interview to the StoryCorps website, where it can be shared with others, and adding it to the Library of Congress archive.

Learn more about the project and access the teacher resources on the StoryCorps website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.