Every Thanksgiving I write a post on each of my blogs listing the digital opportunities in my life for which I am thankful. In this age of constant worry about the various problems and challenges that technology presents for growing children, I like to remind myself that the connected world has given me and young people much to enrich our lives.
This Thanksgiving one more item will definitely be added to my list. StoryCorps, the storytelling feature that we listen to on National Public Radio (NPR), is featuring The 2015 Great Thanksgiving Listen. The goal is to:
… work with teachers and high school students across the country to preserve the voices and stories of an entire generation of Americans over a single holiday weekend.
Listen to a National Public Radio report about the Thanksgiving StoryCorps event.
With this activity StoryCorps takes advantage of connected world opportunities and its new app, which allows individuals to record their stories by following simple directions.
The Great Thanksgiving Listen website provides instructions for middle school or high school teachers (sign up here) who want to encourage their students (age 13 and over) to participate. Curriculum materials including a teacher’s tool kit and guidance are provided. Teachers with younger students may want to send the Great Thanksgiving Listen materials to parents so they can consider incorporating the activity — and especially encouraging older family members to share memories — as a part of their holiday celebrations.
Outside of school, just about anyone else age 13 or older can download the app and participate in The Great Thanksgiving Listen with family or with friends, following the app’s instructional prompts. This is a great activity for members of the family of all ages. Since recordings and information are preserved the app adheres to the age 13 and over requirement — to stay in compliance with the Children’s online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) — but parents can decide whether to include younger children, perhaps running the app or as interviewers. Before getting started, take some time to read the materials on the website or in the app so everyone, especially younger family members, is prepared.
The idea is to use the 2015 holiday — when families or friends get together to give thanks and think about their lives — to generate stories from the past and present and to give individuals a historical voice that will be preserved for future generations.
StoryCorps — which since 2003 has encouraged people to record and share experiences from their lives — preserves the stories as reminders of our rich and diverse culture and aims to create history and context for future generations. I listen raptly each Friday to people who share loving, celebratory, poignant, or just interesting stories.
The Library of Congress hosts two StoryCorps booths in the American Folklife Center for visitors, and other recording locations are around the country. If you have not listened to these stories, check your public radio station’s Morning Edition schedule to see when on Fridays you can listen. You can also go to the website and listen to stories. If your holiday is just too complicated, do check out the StoryCorps schedule page to discover where recording booths are located and where mobile booths may be traveling.
At Thanksgiving we mostly concentrate on the food and catching up with one another. Perhaps at many 2015 celebrations a few moments can be allocated to listening to a few previously recorded stories and then go about recording more. How great to engage in a media activity for the entire family and contribute to a nationwide snapshot of multiple generations’ stories — one day in history?
We adults have far too few opportunities to provide young people with activities that illustrate the importance of what we say online, how we converse, the way we carefully consider the words that we use, and how simple acts can help people leave significant legacies for future generations (super-amazing digital footprints, too). StoryCorps and The Great Thanksgiving Listen in particular provide this type of opportunity.
I’ll definitely be adding StoryCorps to this year’s Thanksgiving blog post and to our family holiday celebration. I’ll report how it goes with my family. How wonderful to have such an awesome connected world opportunity at our celebrations!