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NEA Big Read: IRSC Reads Brother, I'm Dying: Jour des Aieux: StoryCorps Lesson Plan

Information about the 2017 Big Read at Indian River State College on the Treasure Coast of Florida. We will read Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying. Check here for activities and updates to events for anyone who wants to attend.

Oral History Instruction Session

This introductory session is designed to help students understand the background of IRSC's involvement in the NEA Big Read, introduce the book selection for 2017, discuss the reasons for this oral history project, and introduce the steps necessary to participate. 

Class outline:

Release Form

All oral history project participants must sign and submit a release form. You may download and print the form below and return it to an IRSC Libraries employee or your instructor. Minors must provide a signature from their parent or guardian.

Cuál es tu historia

Oral History Lesson Plan

Jour des Aieux Oral History Project, powered by StoryCorps

Lesson Goal & Purpose:

Students gain deep understanding of immigrant experiences or cultural values of other communities through face-to-face involvement documenting the stories of others, while at the same time providing a public service via the publication of their interviews. The lesson serves to expand the Indian River State College's study of the diverse Treasure Coast population while directly addressing part of the school mission of embracing diversity, developing a highly-skilled workforce, and providing cultural enrichment and lifelong learning.

Oral History Project Goal and Purpose:

Indian River State College Libraries will publish a rich source of primary source material for use by students, faculty, and researchers around the world.


Communicate clearly: Communicate to audiences in a manner that is clear, accurate, and sensitive to cultural differences

Think Critically: Use appropriate resources to improve your understanding of human values and belief systems, and apply this understanding creatively, rationally, and empathetically

Work cooperatively: Learn how to think, act, and feel in personal and social situations, and apply this understanding toward working cooperatively with others in diverse communities

Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose

Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally

Create a digital story using 21st century digital literacy skills


●iPads (provided by the IRSC Libraries)

●StoryCorps app (loaded on the iPads)

●Script handout

●Interview questions


1.Students will be familiar with narrative writing/memoirs from reading Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying or “Caroline’s Wedding” from the short story collection by Danticat, Krik? Krak!

2.Librarians will initiate discussion by asking some general questions about elements of her memoir writing and a short introduction to the project prior to the recording date.

3.Students will listen to a clip of an interview already created followed by an impromptu live interview to show them how easy it is to be interviewed/conduct an interview. (

4.Students will receive a script handout along with the library iPads to see how to navigate the StoryCorps app.

5.Students should practice with the StoryCorps app prior to the day they meet the person they are interviewing.

Jour des Aieux Oral History Project

IRSC Libraries and partners are holding events as part of the NEA Big Read: IRSC Reads Brother, I’m Dying program in Spring 2017. Our goal is that the IRSC community will read Haitian American author Edwidge Danticat’s memoir, Brother, I’m Dying and participate in events centered around the book’s themes including Haiti, immigration, storytelling, and family. Jour des Aieux is Ancestry Day, a Haitian holiday celebrated on January 2. The oral history project is an opportunity to interview someone about a story from his or her life or the life of a family member. Recording the interview allows the story to be preserved for the future and for others to hear it and learn about other people’s personal and cultural histories.

What is StoryCorps?

StoryCorps is an independently funded organization whose mission is “to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” You may have heard their recordings on NPR. The recordings are interviews between two people which offer a chance to learn about the person being interviewed and some unique aspect of or story from his or her life. StoryCorps offers a free app we will be using to record our oral histories.

How to Participate

Each oral history project will need an interviewer and an interviewee. Decide which one you plan to be. Either way, your recording will only be a few minutes so you should come prepared with the brief story you want to be asked about or the list of questions you want to ask someone else.

Prepare your story.

If you would like to tell a story, choose one before you arrive to record. Some story ideas include:

●Your immigration story

●Your family’s immigration story

●A folktale you remember from your childhood

●A story someone in your family used to tell you about your family


Prepare an outline or chronology of your story.

The interviewer will move the recording along using their prepared questions, but if you have your story clear in your mind it will help things go more smoothly.

Create a list of interview questions.

If you will be the interviewer, come prepared with a list of interview questions. Question generator by StoryCorps:

A good starting place:

●What is your name?

●How old are you?

●Where you are from? What is your background? (location, region, cultural background, first language, etc.)

●Is there a story you would like to preserve?

●Is it your story or a story you were told?

●How old were you when the story took place?

●Who told you the story? How old were you when you first heard it?

●Who is in the story?

  • Tell me a great story you know about someone in your family.
  • Are there any classic family jokes, stories, or songs you can share with me?
  • What do you see as your family’s legacy? What do you hope will be your legacy?
  • Are there any traditions that have been passed down in your family? Can you tell me about them?