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The Interview: Oral History-First Person Accounts: What to Ask and How to Ask

Lesson Author
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Students will conduct and script an interview of a veteran of the Korean War and submit a finished product (video and script of questions and answers) for evaluation.

Students will conduct and script an interview of a veteran of the Korean War and submit a finished product (video and script of questions and answers) for evaluation. This assignment is an individual assignment and is cross-curricular and technology based.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

Nestled between WW II and the controversy that was Vietnam, Korea is often referred to as the forgotten war and to ensure that the 5.7 million men and women who served in that war of three years have memories that should be remembered and more importantly, documented, students will record and print a record of one Korean veteran using pertinent questions and forms patterned after the Veterans History project of the Library of Congress..

Required time frame:  One class session for project instructions and questions and answers and depending on one’s number of students and rate of project presentation (recommended) class sessions required will vary. 

Where in the teacher conference did you get the idea for this activity or assignment (speaker, document, photograph, activity, audio recording, other)?

The idea for this lesson came from the staff at the Truman and the veterans brought in as speakers.

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Gather and record biographical details of a veteran in MLA format
  • Gather and record facts about their chosen veteran’s: early days of service, wartime service, war’s end and coming home, and reflections in MLA format.
  • Present to peers and teacher findings from interview: form of presentation can be PowerPoint, display board, or a speech and or print format.
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met
  • SS 3       People, Places and Environment
  • SS 5       Individuals, Groups and Institutions
  • SS 2       Time, Continuity and Change

KANSAS STANDARDS (High School-US History)

Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).

3. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Truman and Eisenhower during the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the United Nations, containment, NATO, Truman Doctrine, Berlin Blockade, Korean War, Iron Curtain, U-2 incident).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in United States history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

3. (A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in U.S. history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary and secondary sources to interpret a historical-based conclusion).

Missouri Standards

2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions

7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
  • Students will examine with their teacher the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project which is online.
  • history
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
  • Students will tape and/or video record their interview of the veteran.
  • Students can make use of any materials provided by the veteran they are interviewing in their presentation and report.
Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?
  • Students will collect first-person accounts of military service noting that each interview is different and that each veteran will recall his or her own experiences, some more vividly than others. The students job is to make the interviewer feel comfortable and guide him or her through their story of service. Students may make use of the Library of Congress’s Veteran’s History Project as a staring point to glean format, questions and suggestions.
  • Students can view an interview of an actual Korean veteran and discuss the good and bad points of this interview. What should have been asked of this veteran?  Students can practice keeping notes on the several interview segments.
  • Students will present in writing( PowerPoint, Display Board, Report) and orally to peers and teacher their project.
  • Teacher uses rubric to evaluate student’s project:  The Interview:  Oral History-First Person Accounts: What to Ask and How to Ask.
Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide
  • Students presentations: evaluated with provided rubric and recommendations from the Library of Congress’s Veteran’s History Project.

Presentation Rubric


Evaluating Student Presentations


Veteran’s Oral History Project








Audience cannot understand presentation because there is no sequence of information.

Audience has difficulty following presentation because student jumps around.

Student presents information in logical sequence which audience can follow.

Student presents information in logical, interesting sequence which audience can follow.


Subject Knowledge

Student does not have grasp of information; student cannot answer questions about subject.

Student is uncomfortable with information and is able to answer only rudimentary questions.

Student is at ease with expected answers to all questions, but fails to elaborate.

Student demonstrates full knowledge (more than required) by answering all class questions with explanations and elaboration.



Student uses superfluous graphics or no graphics

Student occasionally uses graphics that rarely support text and presentation.

Student’s graphics relate to text and presentation.

Student’s graphics explain and reinforce screen text and presentation.



Student’s presentation has four or more spelling errors and/or grammatical errors.

Presentation has three misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Presentation has no more than two misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Presentation has no misspellings or grammatical errors.


Eye Contact

Student reads all of report with no eye contact.

Student occasionally uses eye contact, but still reads most of report.

Student maintains eye contact most of the time but frequently returns to notes.

Student maintains eye contact with audience, seldom returning to notes.



Student mumbles, incorrectly pronounces terms, and speaks too quietly for students in the back of class to hear.

Student’s voice is low. Student incorrectly pronounces terms. Audience members have difficulty hearing presentation.

Student’s voice is clear. Student pronounces most words correctly. Most audience members can hear presentation.

Student uses a clear voice and correct, precise pronunciation of terms so that all audience members can hear presentation.


Total Points: