Oral History – Learning History to Learn About Ourselves


This is a lesson plan provided by the National Library of Israel.

More often than not we wish we could have a conversation with a family member who is no longer with us.  Everyone’s story is a window into the past; a collection of memories that reflects personal  experiences and a unique historical perspective. If you had the chance, what questions would you have asked? To ensure that personal family histories are remembered and preserved, this resource provides learners with the tools to conduct their own interviews with a family member and to create a 3-5 minute video with a written reflection on how their family history impacts their lives today.  As a culminating activity, students will participate in a classroom “museum walk” featuring the video stories of individual class members.

The learner will:


  1. understand the value of creating an oral or written documentation of a family member’s life
  2. know the ways in which their family’s history and experiences impact their lives today
  3. be able to conduct an interview with a family member based on the guidelines they have learned in this lesson and to create a video that tells the story of that family member
About the National Library and its educational materials:Jewish

The mission of the National Library of Israel is to provide a home for items of national, historic or cultural significance. Each of these primary sources serve as unique entry points into the collective memory of the people of Israel as well as the Jewish people worldwide.

The education department at the library curates the collection of primary sources and uses them as windows into the past; to foster a deeper understanding of Jewish history, and to enable learners to personalize and connect to earlier events.


When you click on the National Library of Israel resource link featured above, you will find the following educational building blocks for the creation of a lesson plan:

  1. A group activity to open the lesson and engage the learners.
  2. Discussion ideas and/or questions that are designed to get the learners thinking more deeply about the content.
  3. A creative activity that gives students the opportunity to go beyond learning and analyzing, to crafting something new, that personalizes how they relate to the  primary sources featured in the resource.
  4. The primary sources in this resource have individual links (listed in Expand your horizons below) that provide expanded information. In addition there are nuanced discussion questions that will enable students in small groups to engage independently and effectively in the process of  observing, interpreting, and connecting to the primary sources.

Link to the lesson plan:
Oral History – Learning History to Learn About Ourselves

Student handouts, computer, projector

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