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Home > April 2016 > Bringing Oral Histories into the Classroom
Bringing Oral Histories into the Classroom
Posted: 4/18/2016 12:17:07 PM

The Intrepid Museum’s latest exhibitions feature the oral histories of men who lived and worked on board Intrepid. City at Sea: USS Intrepid examines life at sea for the ship’s crew, and On the Line: Intrepid and the Vietnam War explores the events and impact of the Vietnam War through the lens of Intrepid’s history. The oral histories woven into these exhibitions provide insight into the experience of service during World War II, the Cold War and the Vietnam War, giving listeners a deeper understanding of history.

This spring, the Museum’s Education Department offered a 12-hour professional development workshop for New York City public school teachers exploring the use of oral histories in the classroom. This workshop was approved by the New York City Department of Education as an official P-credit course, which means participating teachers earned credit toward their credentials. Over the course of two days, a cohort of nine teachers worked with Museum educators and visiting scholars, interviewed veterans and delved into the Museum’s oral history collection.

Erica Fugger, project coordinator for the Oral History Master of Arts Program at Columbia University, provided a comprehensive background on oral histories. She shared what other organizations have accomplished using this medium, explained how to conduct an oral history interview and provided examples of oral history projects in the classroom. Teachers focused on interpreting primary sources and using those sources as teaching tools, and they explored the use of oral histories as primary sources in the Museum’s exhibits. Teachers also had the opportunity to interview a panel of U.S. Navy veterans to practice oral history–taking strategies. The goal of these sessions was to increase their confidence in using oral histories in the classroom and to allow them to model these techniques for students so that students could become oral historians themselves.

Time was set aside for teachers to incorporate new skills and resources into lesson plans for their classrooms. Teachers were encouraged to use these lessons to prepare a unit of study that incorporates oral histories. They were also invited to use the Museum’s collection of over 90 oral histories as a resource for their classroom work, to bring history to life for their students.
Learn more about the Museum’s professional development opportunities for educators.




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