Apr 3, 2019

Impact Assessment as a Wrap-up

To wrap up this oral history program, as well as to shed light on the future direction, we started an impact assessment project to measure the impact of past oral history projects on the students. The assessment was set out to answer the following questions:

For the students in those representative oral history projects, what were the impact of the oral history process on them? i.e. What were their changes in terms of knowledge and understanding, skills, attitude and feeling, and how did those changes affect their lives since? What factors contributed to this impact, and what factors, unfortunately, prevented the impact from getting bigger?

We hope the answers of these questions can help us understand both the possible impact of oral history learning process on students, and how to improve the process so that the students can benefit more.

As such, during February and March 2019, we’ve interviewed 9 students from 7 projects of 5 schools during year 2014-2018 and collected 679 minutes of interview data, 75 minutes per student on average. As for knowledge and understanding, we probe a student’s understanding on the relationship between individual experience and the historical context, on the subjectivity in the life stories, and how these findings resonated with him/her. If the oral history topic is about a traditional culture, we also probe a student’s understanding on the connotation and value of this culture, in which way it is related to individual experience, and how it will be inherited and further developed. As for skills, we asked the students to reflect on all major steps, and comment on their gains on skills. Each interview ended at the student’s overall reflection on how the experience of doing oral history affected his/her life afterwards, or how the experience helped shape who s/he is today.

The analysis of the interview data is still under way. We are looking forward to sharing the results with you towards the end of April.

Jan 7, 2019

Towards Understanding - Oct. Workshop Report

Pioneers and Leaders in Training
Pioneers and Leaders in Training

On October 12-14, 2018, around 50 teachers from 20+ schools in Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan, Shaanxi, Gansu and Qinghai and 10 staff/instructors/TAs gathered at the Guangxi Normal University Affiliated Secondary to hold a two-and-a-half-day workshop. The instructors led teachers to address these two questions with 5 core modules:

  1. What is the understanding in oral history teaching?
  2. How to help students reach understanding through curricular design?

1)  Project reporting and group reflection: After the excellent projects were presented, all project teams discussed the lessons learned and shared their experience. Teams can use what they learned to make the first round of revisions to the curricular design;

2)  “Understanding by Designcurricular design: Ms. Huihui Xia, the history teaching researcher from the Department of Teaching and Research, Guangxi Education College, introduced the 6 aspects of understanding, and how to apply the Understanding by Design (UbD) methodology in local cultural oral history teaching. This is the second round of revision for curricular design.

3)  Secondary school oral history education-ideas and practices: But what is the target understanding in oral history teaching specifically? Dr. Wailing Wong, Director of the School of Social Sciences, the University of Hong Kong, led the trainees to explore this issue through case studies. Through the analysis of a student's Grandpa’s life story, the trainees learned how to drive interview analysis towards the analysis of the context, the connection, and the subjectivity—a specific mapping of the 6 aspects of understanding in the oral history teaching. "The step-by-step analysis of the transcript is like driving off the clouds to reveal the sky, we see the interactions among the times, the region and the individual, whose subjective initiative was so vivid in the context of the times." The trainees also realized the necessity of background research and verification of motives. “Research towards understanding must include accurate and detailed background analysis of events, the analysis of subjective and objective factors, and the recording of what the narrator thought and how s/he felt, instead of guessing." Also background research beyond literature search: "The collection of background information should be extensive: not only web search, but also checking out local authorities, also interviewing information providers, including the elderly, and the narrator’s family members."

4)  Oral history products and display - Non-fiction Literary Writing: Presenting their understanding to the public can inspire students to deepen their understanding. Non-fictional literary writing is a popular form of public products. Mr. Yuanjiang Li, Executive Secretary of the Yongyuan Foundation and the designer of former National Secondary School Student History Writing Contest, introduced to the trainees how to assess and conduct non-fiction writing based on oral history. The trainees practiced the storytelling of family history in front of the class, such as the marriage certificate story of her parents during those revolutionary years shared by Teacher Luand her grandfather’s experience in Sino-Vietnamese War shared by Teacher Qin. They began to grasp how the non-fiction literary products convey the understandings “Non-fictional literary writing should be based on historical facts. It uses language structures to bring readers into scenes, creating a sense of presence, and at the same time highly readable as a literary piece.”

5) Guilin Rice Noodle Cultural Center Tour: Through this well-designed tour by the Guilin Rice Noodle project teamthe trainees experienced the charm of ancient rice noodle making and the inheritor who has many stories of rice noodle to tell, learned about a multi-dimensional display form of traditional culture, and witnessed the students’ increased understanding of the traditional culture through their demo and display of various work products.

The workshop’s most profound impact on the trainees can be seen through the key words in their training reports. No matter what their most important takeaway is, e.g. value of oral history or passion of the fellow teachers for the first-timers, or the pedagogy or confidence for the experienced, the teachers now share the common belief, "In the grand scroll of human history and culture across thousands of years, you can contribute a dot." We would like to thank all for their efforts in making this happen, and hope that we can continue to provide a rising channel through projects and trainings for these pioneers and leaders.

Module 1.  Group 4 discussing lessons learned
Module 1. Group 4 discussing lessons learned
Module 1. Sharing group discussion results
Module 1. Sharing group discussion results
Module 3. Interview Observation led by Dr. Wong
Module 3. Interview Observation led by Dr. Wong
Module 3. Group 2 analyzing Grandpa's Life story
Module 3. Group 2 analyzing Grandpa's Life story
Module 4. Grandpa's story in Sino-Vietnamese War
Module 4. Grandpa's story in Sino-Vietnamese War
Module 5. Teachers experiencing milling rice syrup
Module 5. Teachers experiencing milling rice syrup
Module 5. Students narrating their OH story
Module 5. Students narrating their OH story
Oct 12, 2018

Case study method used in the Oct Workshop

The 2018 summer break was an unusual period for teachers and students participating in the Evergreen Footprint* program. To meet the timeline of the October workshop, during the past summer break, the teacher pushed the students to synthesize interview data and background data into a first draft of the historical narrative, which tells a story of the interviewee’s cultural life, e.g. Grandpa’s life story as a mason, or Father’s life story as a Suona horn player. EEF project team reviewed the historical narratives and the students’ intermediate work products such as background information collected and interview minutes, and provided some immediate feedback for the teachers to further guide the students to revise their drafts.

Two students’ essay/transcripts were used by Dr. Wailing Wong as case studies in her workshop session to illustrate to the teachers what are the in-depth understandings of life stories students should pursue, and how the teacher should facilitate that, which will naturally fold into the next revision of Footprint process to make the training and tutoring part more focused and relevant. With case studies it is easier for the teachers and students to grasp what have been validated and what need to be further improved.

Moreover, two Footprint students, Yazhou and Lina from Gansu Tongwei No. 1 High School, who are now first-year college students, will join us in the workshop, be tutored by the mentors face to face, and continue their oral history journey by further improving their drafts (Yazhou’s essay, Grandpa’s Life as A Carpenter, was also used by Dr. Wong as a case study.). We hope the workshop will further increase their interest in oral history, and making them part of the efforts to support oral history teaching in secondary schools, at least help recruiting their successors in the oral history club at their Alma Mater.

After the workshop, the teachers will go back and guide the students to do one round of revision of their end products. We will run a student portfolio contest of student portfolios in November. Then we will collect the teacher’s reflection report in December and run a teacher portfolio contest, including their intermediate tutoring records and their final report.

The 6 weeks’ dash in the Summer couldn’t be done without the teachers’ hard work to guide and support students, especially those among them who have just finished the college entrance exams and are moving to the next stage in life. The teachers are encouraging them to stay cool and finish the project which is meaningful to self, to family, and to the community. It will be both the highlight of high school days, and a passage of life.

 

*Note: The Footsteps program was renamed to Footprint program starting from September, 2018 which more appropriately conveys the meaning of our forefathers’ memory.


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