The Assignment (in a Nutshell)
The Great Thanksgiving Listen is a technology-based assignment originally developed for high school students studying American history, social studies, English, language arts, journalism, drama, ESL, media and technology. It has also been applied successfully as an extracurricular and community-building opportunity in classrooms, OST (out-of-school) environments, community centers, living rooms, and kitchens across the country.
Young people – and people of all ages – create an oral history of the contemporary United States by recording an interview with an elder, mentor, friend, or someone they admire. Interviews become part of the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Via the StoryCorps website, the complete interview is also shareable with teachers, friends, and family.
If the conversation will be taking place between two people in the same place, it can be recorded using StoryCorps App. If the conversation will be taking place between two people in different locations, it can be recorded using a web-based platform, StoryCorps Connect. Both tools are free to use.
The best place to get in touch with questions and to share resources for this project is the StoryCorps in the Classroom Facebook group. If you are having technical issues, please visit our Help Desk.
Participants will need access to a smartphone, computer, or tablet with the latest device software. Students recording in person will need to download the StoryCorps App to a smartphone (Apple iPhone or Android) from the App Store, Google Play, or Amazon Store. If recording remotely, students can access StoryCorps Connect for free online at storycorpsconnect.org.
iPads are not recommended for use with the StoryCorps App.
StoryCorps does not recommend students use a shared classroom device.
For students without access to a device or without parental consent (see below), teachers can easily modify The Great Listen to allow for basic participation. Modifications are noted in the lesson plan.
Currently, the StoryCorps App and StoryCorps Archive prompt users in English; participants may record in any language.
Parental Consent & Privacy
If you choose to require a parental permission slip, we have included a sample one here that you can easily customize to your needs. (Please note: The permission slip is for school/community use only and should not be submitted to StoryCorps. You should seek further legal advice from your counsel as needed to finalize any terms.)
After recording, students will have the option to publish their interviews. If published, the interviews will be entered in the StoryCorps Archive in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and appear publicly online at StoryCorps.org. If the students do not want to publish their interviews, they can save the interviews to their devices. (Please note: Only interviews recorded via the StoryCorps App can be saved locally to the device.) Students and other participants should not be required to publish their interviews publicly to receive credit. This is to preserve participant privacy. Please see our privacy setting recommendations for those who prefer to keep their recordings private.
The StoryCorps App and StoryCorps Archive contain user-generated content that is not reviewed before it is posted online. While we adhere to a strict set of Community Guidelines and work to maintain a culture of tolerance and acceptance, not all published content will be appropriate for all individuals. We also have a flagging mechanism in place to help further identify content that violates our Community Guidelines. We ask teachers, educators, and caregivers to familiarize themselves with the StoryCorps Archive, to review the Community Guidelines listed at archive.storycorps.org, and to use discretion in adopting the project.