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Seabrook Farm. Cannery workers...

[Detail] Seabrook Farm. Cannery workers...

Lesson Procedure

Possible teaching options are noted with individual activities.

  1. Introduce students to the American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 collection. Students read the Special Presentation of the collection. For additional resources for teaching from the American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940, see the lesson Using Oral History.
  2. Discuss how to structure an interview for the best results. Note that open-ended rather than yes/no questions get more detailed responses. For additional resources about types of interview questions, see the lesson Immigration and Oral History.
  3. Discuss the types of local landmarks, traditions and customs that could be project subjects, such as a plaque commemorating WW II veterans or a mural showing a state or local event. Decide in advance whether students will work alone, with a partner or with a small group; and whether to limit the number of projects on a particular landmark or tradition. Allow students to self-select a subject. For additional ideas on how to generate project ideas, see Explore Your Community: A Community Heritage Poster for the Classroom
  4. Assign students to take pictures of traditional customs, activities or landmarks for their project as homework.
  5. Provide access to books, materials, pictures, and artifacts from the school library to gain insight into the community's past.
  6. Have students visit the local public library and work with primary documents from the local history collection.
  7. Ask students to submit a plan for their interviews, including specific questions and possible candidates for the interview, for peer or teacher review before conducting their interviews. Students might benefit from a reminder to form open-ended questions and a review of interview etiquette. Possible interview candidates for a landmark might include people who work, visit, shop, or eat at the site, or other passersby. Students conduct interviews, taking notes. Students write a report of the interview, which should be evaluated based on the number and variety of people interviewed, the types of questions developed, and the types of responses elicited.
  8. Teach students how to combine their pictures and text in a multimedia presentation.
  9. Students share their presentations with the class. Presentations should include an explanation of how interviews were conducted, and what the student learned about the community. Class members write a summary and a critique of each presentation. (Teacher option: provide guidelines for the critiques, or generate them with the class before beginning the presentations. Students may evaluate all presentations, or be assigned particular presentations.)


The high school library will store the students’ work to be used as a resource by future students. Web projects may be shared on the school Web site.