Over the past three years my sophomore honors English class completed a project-based unit where students publish a thoughtful collection of narrative nonfiction writing in which they tell specific family stories. Along the way students conduct interviews to produce a journalistic piece of writing and then utilize creative writing techniques to develop characters, settings and use selected literary devices. The project culminates with the publishing and launching of a hardbound copy book using professional methods and local collaboration.
Why this project? Why a project-based unit? Four years ago our high school began the journey of opening a school within our school that would offer a project-based experience. The desire is to…show more content… StoryCorps.org is an organization whose mission is “to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.” StoryCorps furnishes a lesson that introduces students to their mission and helps students learn basic skills in interviewing and storytelling. During this students explore the meaning of story, watch and listen to video clips from StoryCorps, collaborate with classmates on interviewing techniques, and share strategies for improving an interview. StoryCorps also supplies a list of selected questions which is divided into specific categories like: “Questions for parents,” “Questions about growing up,” “Questions about serious illness,” or “Questions about military service.”
It is not until we have worked through the StoryCorps lesson that I handout the document introducing the project. It outlines the publishing of a collection of biographical narratives where each student will contribute a specific story from one or more family members. Along the way, students will utilize methods of professional journalism, historians, biographers, authors and more. To get started I ask students to choose a family member/significant adult and using the StoryCorps question list schedule a time to interview the adult. I ask that they make at least an audio recording of the interview.
I believe it is very important that students interview the adult in person. We talk about how the interview