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Histories Aural Histories & Media Texts: A Practical Journey into The New Curriculum WORKSHOP PRESENTATION NOTES QPAT Convention November, 2003 Peter Bilodeau Educational Consultant Sir Wilfrid Laurier RECIT Nancy Bennett, teacher Grenville Elementary School Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board
“The average American child spends approximately 28 hours a week watching television. In a year’s time, American school children spend twice as much time watching television as they spend in the classroom.” — The American Medical Association, 1996 "Technologies are not simply inventions which people employ but are the means by which people are re-invented." "Television is teaching all the time. It does more educating than all the schools and all the institutions of higher learning.“ — Marshall McLuhan
The Aural Histories Project was conducted at Grenville Elementary School from early May, 2003 until mid-June It was made possible by a PDIG grant The project sought to incorporate and integrate Language Arts, Social Studies & Media Literacy objectives. The original project was conducted with a mixed group of Cycle 2 & 3 students; however, it can easily be altered to accommodate levels up to and including senior high school. The project can be completed with either still or video photography. Note that the original project truncated and began late due to the illness of a focal teacher.
“ Even if I want to do this project with my class, why should I bother with the media aspects? The Language Arts and Social Studies objectives are the meat of the project, aren’t they?” Visual media now represents the major method of social conditioning and information acquisition in the Western world — if not the entire world. The truly literate citizen of the 21 st Century will need the skills to access, analyze, evaluate & communicate information in a variety of formats, including print and non- printed media Quebec Education Plan Correlation
research The opportunity to research a variety of topics through a variety of media formats – Internet, libraries, personal accounts listening skills The opportunity to develop listening skills public speaking skills The opportunity to develop public speaking skills critical thinking The opportunity to develop critical thinking skills through the planning & execution of an interview expository writing process The opportunity to develop expertise in the expository writing process multimedia skills The opportunity to develop multimedia skills through video production or paper-based publishing
Oral (aural) histories projects can be divided thematically as follows: the memories of a single interviewee, separate from any historical, geographical, familial bonds memories bound to a city or town, place of former employment or a singular regional event which happened in the aforementioned town memories bound to an era, global event or specific year
Your selection of theme revolves around two basic factors, namely: The amount of historical research desired — oral (aural) histories which are centered on an era or global event required more initial research than those of a singular interviewee or regional geographic location about which your interviewee will be describing. Conversely, it is sometimes easier to find multimedia on global events than local or regional events. Availability of interviewees — given your theme selection, how available are interviewees? Should you choose to interview World War II participants or those who would have clear recollections of the Great Depression, your field is shrinking daily.
Language Arts Research Writing Peer Editing Information Literacy Narrative Construction Visual Arts Production Design Layout History Primary Source Gathering Create Historical Record Life Skills Collaborative Work Critical Thinking Communication
The project should begin with a discussion of aural (oral) histories and their value to a person’s life & historical record, in general. Some questions you may wish to explore might be: Why are oral histories valuable? How can we find, recognize and use the rich histories in our own lives? What skills are needed to access and preserve oral history? Why do we continue to value oral history even though we have writing? How are "Universal Myths" or “Cultural Universals” reflected in oral history? Why is authenticity important in oral history? How can we recognize a primary source? Who do you think would be a good subject or, depending on theme, who do you know who has participated in a major national event?Universal Myths
After having conducting the introductory discussion, decided upon the theme and subjects, divide your class into groups of three or more. Each group will have at least: (1) Producer (1) Video (or paper) Journalist (1) Camera Person
Your researchers should attempt to find out as much, in advance, about the subject, event and/or era as they can and communicate the information to the video journalist who will incorporate the research into her/his opening narration and interview. Remember, the research sets the focus of the interview. If you’re interviewing a retired miner, have the students research the mine in which he worked. If he’s a World War II vet, research the war before you conduct the interview.
Using the material gleaned from the researcher, have the video journalist write his opening narrative, introducing the subject, event and or era. Remember the spoken word is different that the written one. The video journalist should practice their monologue with other students, attempting to sound as natural as possible. Have your class watch the Features sections of the Nightly local TV news, paying close attention to manner in which the TV journalist speak – the manner in which they emphasize key words.
An oral history interview is not a general dialogue. The purpose of the interview is to listen to what the interviewee has to say and to stimulate the narrative with understanding comments and intelligent questions. Ask open-ended questions first, waiting to see where they lead. Tailor your reactions and follow-up questions to the responses of the interviewee. Pursue in detail. Avoid too much "preordering" of the material you wish to include in the interview. Be prepared to let the train of memory association run its course, even if it means ignoring your outline to follow new avenues of inquiry.
You may wish to jot down a few notes as the interviewee is talking, but be careful not to let this disrupt the flow of what she/he is saying. You can go back at a later time and ask for clarification of information that may have been confusing. Eye contact and a pattern of concentrated listening are vital to the oral history interview. The interview setting is not the time to air your personal views on international politics or to tell your own life story. Participate in the interview by means of silent encouragement-- nods, smiles, et cetera--short phrases of understanding and pertinent questions.
Be aware of the interviewee's race and class background and of culturally determined characteristics. Avoid assumptions. Do not feel compelled to interrupt silences. Give the interviewee time to fully answer each question or finish her/his train of thought. Silence is an integral, important part of the oral history interview process. Do not challenge accounts that you think may be inaccurate. Give the interviewee a chance to think through difficult subjects. If the interviewee strays into non-pertinent subjects, steer her/him gently, but firmly, back to the topic at hand by asking a question. However, avoid statements about "staying on subject."
Everything that is seen or heard on TV or film is contrived to some extent – event the news. In video work, there is no such thing as natural. Given this fact, dramatic warm-ups would do all your crews well. The Purpose of a Warm-up To relax and relieve any tension. To prepare the voice for speaking. To prepare the body for moving. To get creativity flowing. To focus your mind on the task. To communicate with others. Further warm-up exercises are in the Notes section
Classic Two-Shot Tips for successful filming: Use cue-cards (large cardboard sheets) Hold cue-cards above camera person Use a tripod Move the camera as little as possible If you have to move the camera, practice first. Set the camera as close to the subject as possible. Camcorder mikes are weak. Filming assistance links are contained in Notes section
Focuses of development for media literacy at the elementary level are: awareness of the place and influence of the media in his/her daily life and society understanding of the way the media portray reality use of media-related materials and communication codes Return to Slide #5 - Why
Following Joseph Campbell’s writings, all heroes of literature & legend follow a certain path. It well could be said that all human have a heroic path – a path that also leads to the telling of stories and Aural (oral) histories. If this interests you pedagogically, please refer to the following website for an extraordinary study of modern heroes to Campbell’s philosophy. This site can be brought into the class.
Introduction to Media Literacy, David Constantine. Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: Oral History Association. Retrieved November 9, 2003 from: Writers’ Workshop: Immigration. Scholastic Books, Retrieved November 9, 2003 from: n n Scholastic Books website: D.C. Everest Area Schools Oral History Program, Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: Folklife & Field Work: A Layman’s Introduction to Field Techniques, Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: Institute for Oral History, Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: Baylor University website: How to Collect Oral Histories, David Sidwell. Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: Utah State University website: Oral History Techniques: How to Organize & Conduct Oral History Interviews, Barbara Truesdell, Ph.D. Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: Indiana University website: Oral History Questions, Joanne Todd Rabun. Retrieved November 9, 2003, from:
A Little Advice, Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: Historically Speaking: An Oral History WebQuest, Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: Bomber Command: Death by Moonlight – Stories, Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: The Valour and the Horror Website: Oral Interviews (WWII Memories), Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: Oral Histories of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: University of Southern Mississippi website: Oral Histories of the Mi’kmaw People, Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: American Roots Music: Oral Histories, Retrieved November 9, 2003, from: