The Great Thanksgiving Listen

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Join StoryCorps and 50,000+ educators from around the country working to make The Great Thanksgiving Listen a holiday tradition

What if your students spent their time honoring a loved one this Thanksgiving, instead of fighting the crowds on Black Friday?

Last year, StoryCorps—a nonprofit oral history organization whose mission is to preserve and share people’s stories in order to build connections between generations— did just that by empowering students across the country to participate in the first Great Thanksgiving Listen.

 

The Great Thanksgiving Listen is a mobile-first, national education project based on a simple idea: Find an elder you love and interview that person about his or her life. Students, age 13 and older, are tasked with choosing a partner (a parent, grandparent, neighbor or mentor), empowered to ask thoughtful questions, and then record their conversations using the free StoryCorps app.

 

It’s an opportunity to make cross-generational connections by talking, and even more importantly, by listening. And when the interview is complete, students and their loved ones can upload it to the StoryCorps archive in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, where it will become part of history for generations to come.

 

The Great Thanksgiving Listen is more than just a homework assignment; it’s an opportunity to make history by capturing the stories and voices of today that will one day allow your students’ great-great-great grandchildren to understand who they were and where they came from.

 

Last Thanksgiving, more than 50,500 individual recordings from all 50 states were uploaded and archived over a single weekend; that’s more oral histories than StoryCorps helped preserve in its first 13 years of existence. With the help of educators like you, StoryCorps is launching a national student-led oral history movement and providing each participant with a treasured family artifact.

 

Taking part in the project enables students to ask questions of the adults in their lives that they never otherwise would have asked, while honing important speaking, listening, and social and emotional learning skills. When StoryCorps surveyed teachers who participated in 2015, they learned that 92 percent of them saw their students increase their connectedness to their families or communities, and 99 percent said they would participate again or recommend the project to a fellow teacher this year.

 

During his 2016 TED Talk, StoryCorps founder Dave Isay reflected on the tremendous success of the Great Thanksgiving Listen in its pilot year and why this project continues to be so relevant, especially during a presidential election year:

 

"Listening to other people's authentic stories ... can help us build indelible bridges of understanding, because when you hear these interviews—no matter the politics, race, religion or understanding of the participants—there can be no doubt that there is so much more that we share in common than divides us. And if we shared more time listening to each other and less time shouting, think about how much stronger we would be."

 

Accompanying the project this year is an updated Teacher's Toolkit that includes both teacher and student resources and a selection of supporting multimedia materials like a podcast featuring highlights from last year's Great Listen, instructional tips for teachers, and links to StoryCorps original animations.

 

Visit thegreatlisten.org to learn more about the project and receive updates, teacher tips and resources to support your class in implementing the Great Thanksgiving Listen this year.