Oral history and writing in the classroom

The focus of this project was to explore how writing and oral history activities can facilitate parent/guardian participation and influence student motivation to become better writers. At the same time, through these activities the children gained knowledge of their families, their culture and their history, and acquired a better understanding of their own identity. During and after the implementation of these activities we were able to reflect on the impact of parents/guardian, children, and the school working together. We planned four activities and each activity was conducted in a whole week span. The activities involved the children taking home questions developed in class or a worksheet to gather information about their families, homes, and themselves. The answers were used to write poems or stories in class. Students then had opportunities to share their stories with other students in class. The culminating event was a story sharing night which involved the parents coming to a potluck and to the classroom to listen to their children read their stories and poems. This project had a powerful influence and impact in our students, their families/guardians, and our teaching. When oral histories are made part of the classroom curriculum, curriculum becomes significant, relevant, and closely connected to the "lived experiences" of our students. Keywords: Oral history, writing, parent/guardian participation, identity, family, classroom curriculum, elementary school.