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Capture History Through Interviews With the StoryCorps App

Listening to NPR (National Public Radio) every morning has its advantages.

As a media teacher, it's essential to know the world's events, both local and global to model good news consumption habits for my students as well as stay informed.

One segment of NPR that I look forward to each week is StoryCorps which seeks to capture interviews done by regular people with special circumstances. Whether I'm moved to tears or laughter, I can always count on the humanity of the program to make me feel.

(Yes, I've been known to sob in my car on the drive to work as I listen.)

So you can imagine my delight when I learned during a recent broadcast that StoryCorps has developed an app for all people, to be able to record interviews that will be archived with the Library of Congress or on their phone.

This app was made in preparation for #theGreatListen2015, where StoryCorps is hoping to double their archive with interviews from all over the world with the hopes of capturing the wisdom of many whose voices may not otherwise be heard.

So the media teacher in me got very excited.

If the Great Listen is on Thanksgiving, then it isn't too late, to teach my students about it and ask them to get involved.

What a great way to teach interview skills, and foster valuable conversations with students and their family members or community members. Student reporters can opt to share their stories and selfies with the world via the Library of Congress or the student media outlet at school.

The app is really easy to use and they even provide helpful tips for pre-interview preparation, that would help a novice interviewer or a more experienced reporter. In school, we can help students brainstorm who they can talk to and about what either using the app to develop questions or create our own.

This would be a great project for history, media, or English teachers to encourage their students to take part in, to help document the way major world events impact families, and also give students the opportunity to learn about history from loved ones.

The app is broken down into a few parts:

My interviews

  • This is a place where you can start multiple interviews and save the work you are doing which will be housed in the app after you establish a free login

  • The app will also save drafts of interviews if the student can't complete one right away.


  • This is a great place to listen to other people's stories and get inspired. You can listen to their featured stories, follow individuals or review a feed with everyone, with the most current at the top.

How it works

  • a short picture story of the process of archiving history through interviews

Helpful hints

  • Getting Started - offers some helpful hints for making decisions about who to interview and about what

  • Preparing for Interview - offers suggestions for coming up with good questions as well as tips for practicing before you record

  • Recording - this gives tips for the actual recording

About StoryCorps

The app is extremely easy to navigate and can really scaffold the process of developing a great interview to tell a story.

With the many events happening in the world today, it is very easy to lose the human part of it. Imagine helping students make direct connections with the world through interviews and personal stories, all the while developing excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Why not support the Great Thanksgiving Listen with your students' stories?

In what ways can you see this app being useful in your classes? Please share

This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in October 2015


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