Lesson: The Power of Places We Remember - StoryCorps

Lesson: The Power of Places We Remember

This lesson will provide an opportunity for students to reflect on why places from our past are important to us. 

  1. Objective: 
    • Students will remember places from their pasts and reflect on why they are important
  2. Standards: Applicable Common Core Standards
  3. Time: 45 Minutes
  4. Preparation:
  5. Materials:

    Warm-Up: Partner Walk-Around

    10 Minutes


    1. Tell students that in today’s lesson, they will reflect on important places from their past.

    2. Ask students to think about a place or environment where they are perfectly content. What do they do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to them? Examples might include a room, house, or apartment they lived in, the neighborhood they grew up in, a relative’s house or other place they have visited, somewhere they used to hang out with friends, a church, park or, where something of importance to them happened.

    3. Refer students to a Group Agreement. Ask students which ones will be most important today as we share about places from our past.

    4. Model with your own example of a place or environment where you are perfectly content. Then give students a minute to think quietly.

    5. Pair students up by counting off. For example, if there are 20 students, count off one to 10 and pair students who have the same number. If there are an uneven number of students, you can participate.

    6. Tell students they are going to go for a walk around the room or out in the hall, as they share their favorite places from their past with each other for about 2 minutes.

    7. Ask students to move their chairs into a circle.

    8. Ask a few volunteers to share some of their favorite places from the past or interesting things they heard from a partner (with permission from that partner to share).


    Facilitate a brief, two-minute class discussion using the following questions as prompts:

    • What did you notice about what was shared?
    • The question you were asked to think about is one of the prompts on the Common Application for Undergraduate College Admission. Why might a college be interested in hearing the answer to this question?
      • Sample response: “A story about a place that is important to me shows colleges who I am, what I value, and what makes me unique.”

    Activity: Antoinette & Iriel Franklin’s Story

    10 Minutes


      1. Explain to students that they are going to continue to explore the importance of place through listening to Iriel Franklin interview her aunt Antoinette for StoryCorps. Iriel and Antoinette had to leave their home in New Orleans because of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest and most destructive hurricanes in US history.

      2. Play the Antoinette & Iriel Franklin audio clip, embedded below and listed in the lesson materials index with the corresponding transcript.


      3. Ask for a volunteer to summarize the clip. Ask if anyone else would like to add to the summary.

        Sample summary: “This clip is about an aunt and her niece who had to leave their home in New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina and how this experience helped the niece to grow up and the aunt to learn that ‘love and family and faith are more important than anything.”

      4. Tell students you are going to play the clip again and ask them to use the Story Reflection Worksheet to jot down three descriptive details the aunt, Antoinette, uses to describe New Orleans and her experience after the hurricane. Descriptive details can include names of specific people, places, and things, as well as things the speaker remembers doing, seeing, tasting, touching, hearing, or smelling. Students can also refer to the transcript to help them identify details, if you choose to print or project the transcript.

      5. Responses could include the details below. If not, you should call students’ attention to them.

        Darrow, Louisiana
        Her mother and Aunt Maybelle breaking down
        Matriarchs of the family
        My daddy’s pink and yellow roses
        Playing tambourine at St. Monica’s Holy Hill Gospel Choir
        Snowball stands
        Mango sorbet at Jazz Fest
        Mardi Gras
        House that Daddy built with heart and hands

      6. Facilitate a conversation using the following questions, and asking students to explain their answers by providing evidence from the audio clip:

        From what you heard Antoinette talk about in her interview, why do you think New Orleans important to her?

        Why do we think Antoinette and Iriel chose to talk about what they did?

        What do we learn about Antoinette through listening to this interview? (Possible examples include: Her family is more important to her than anything else. She enjoys music. She enjoys food.)

        What can we infer (make an educated guess) about Antoinette through the way she describes her life in New Orleans? (Possible examples include: She’s close with her father, mother, and Aunt Maybelle. She’s religious. She appreciates beauty. Her father and family are hard working. She is resilient.)

        What do Antoinette and Iriel get out of the conversation they have?


Activity: Personal Reflection About Important Places

20 Minutes

Remind students about the Common Application essay prompt referenced in the Warm-Up: “Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

Tell students that they will now spend time reflecting on this prompt, and about places that are important to them. You can choose to facilitate this reflection in one of two ways:

  • Important Places Sketch: Ask students to use the provided paper and drawing supplies to sketch a drawing of the place that comes to mind. Let students know that the place they choose might be the one they talked about in the Warm-Up, or it might be some other place.

  • Important Places Graphic Organizer: Have students use the Important Places Graphic Organizer to add descriptive words and phrases that would help someone else “see” or “hear” their description.

  • Model sharing about your own important place, where you feel content.

  • If there is time, ask for a couple of volunteers to share their drawings or written responses with the group.


    Facilitate a short class discussion using the following questions as prompts:

    • How did it feel to draw and/or write about your place?
    • Why are these places important to us?


    Closing: Popcorn Responses

    Five minutes

    “Popcorn” is a technique in which a set amount of time is allotted for students to respond to a prompt. The sharing is a “popcorn” because students are invited to voice their responses randomly rather than going around in a specified order, and they don’t have to raise their hands. However, there should be only one student speaking at a time, so if two students speak at the same time, one should let the other go first. Students are invited to pass if they don’t wish to respond.

    Invite students to share their responses to the following question, popcorn style: What is one word that comes to mind when you think about the place you remembered today?

Printable Lesson Materials


Title Link
Lesson Plan: The Power of Places We Remember Download Printable PDF
Common Core Standards Download Printable PDF
Transcript for Audio: Antoinette & Iriel Franklin Download Printable PDF
Story Reflection Worksheet Download Printable PDF
Important Places Graphic Organizer Download Printable PDF