Community Oral History in the Classroom: A virtual Clock Hour offering for Washington State educators

February 22, 2023
Community Oral History in the Classroom: A virtual Clock Hour offering for Washington State educators

Window Seat Media is an approved 2022-23 Clock Hour provider by the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

This is a 2-session virtual in-service offering for educator clock hours

  • Session 1: Wednesday, April 12, 2023 from 4 - 7pm
  • Session 2: Wednesday, May 3, 2023 from 4 - 7pm

Participants must enroll in the first session to take the second session. Community members are also welcome to register for the entire training.


‍Number of clock hours being offered

6 (for both sessions)


We encourage those who are able to make a contribution to support our ability to make this accessible to all. Suggested donation: $5 to $500.

Course objectives

Goal: Educators gain oral history skills to be able to facilitate a community-based interviewing process and storytelling project in their classrooms.

Objectives for educators

  • Understand oral history, theory, methods, and ethics with an emphasis on community-centric oral history practices
  • Practice deep listening and oral history interviewing skills
  • Gain knowledge and skills in accessible recording tools and technology for oral history interviewing
  • Explore sample student projects and create a draft plan for their own classroom
  • Practice creating a collaborative learning environment

Objectives for students (6-12 grade age range)

  • Understand that educators are all around - that family members, community members, and peers are knowledge-holders and teachers
  • Spark curiosity in self and others and how our stories connect in community
  • Learn deep listening and interviewing skills and technology
  • Share learning with family and school community through creative products
  • Students learn collective storytelling techniques for community narratives and deep listening.

CCDEI Standards

This offering aligns with the Cultural Competency, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion standards for all Washington State educators. The following is a list of applicable training content, learning experiences, and assessment alignment for your classrooms:


  • Deep listening and interviewing skills (asking questions to understand another’s experience rather than offering own experience)
  • Self-reflection on own perspective/biases as interviewer
  • Collection of stories helps people understand themes or throughlines about a community
  • Validates and amplifies diversity of student experiences. Acknowledging histories that have been left out of the regular classroom curriculum
  • Responsiveness. Model the offering based on who is in the room, flexible, changing approach as needs arise


  • Community or family-centric project examples, such as foodways, musical traditions, and other cultural traditions and ways of knowing
  • Resource guide for student interviewing to support educators to communicate directly with students’ families
  • School communities can use community-based tools for sharing, storytelling, and facilitating crucial conversations to address systemic inequities in the school environment.
  • Validates and amplifies diversity of student experiences. Acknowledging histories that have been left out of the regular classroom curriculum.


  • Community-based oral history process - participants learn how to design a process in collaboration with students, family, community.
  • Many options for the specific focus of the project or direction within the course
  • Interview process is organic and responsive to the interviewee. An act in shared decision-making, inquiry-based, interviewee is a collaborator.
  • Concept of ongoing consent in oral history (feedback process with the narrator and shared decision making process in how the interview is used and shared)
  • Encouraging cross-department and cross-disciplinary collaborations (appropriate for educators of history, social studies, art, drama, music, political science, language and culture, library media, future teacher academies, career and technical education courses, and more)
  • Tapping into the lived experience and expertise of student peers in the classroom


  • Process is accessible to other language speakers through translation
  • Support navigating barriers to access to technology
  • Educators can use tools to identify and change policies and practices in the school environment
  • Create safer spaces to share parts of culture and heritage that are less known. Offers a process that avoids othering and tokenizing while highlighting what it means to live in a democratic multicultural society.


Instructors and their qualifications

Elaine Vradenburgh, Memory Activist

Elaine is an oral historian, multimedia storyteller, and educator. She has carried out her work through a variety of roles — a development director at nonprofit organizations in the South Puget Sound; a faculty member in the Evergreen State College's MPA and Evening and Weekend Studies programs; and a community-based learning coordinator at high schools in Albuquerque, NM and Portland, OR. Elaine is the founder of Window Seat Media, a community oral history and storytelling organization based in Olympia, WA. She holds a BA in Cultural and Community Studies from The Evergreen State College and a MA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Folklore, Anthropology and Journalism from the University of Oregon.

Meg Rosenberg, Community Weaver

Meg is deeply invested in the local South Sound community and building dialogue that sparks equitable social change. Their passion is for people and finding the connections between us. Meg studied theatre and interdisciplinary arts throughout middle and high school (Vancouver School of Arts and Academics) and undergraduate studies (BA in Theatre Arts, Anthropology/Sociology, and French from Kalamazoo College ‘13). Their graduate degree (MPA from The Evergreen State College ‘18) and professional work have focused on organizational development, education, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Meg practices Playback Theatre with the local improvisational troupe the Heartsparkle Players and launched Brave Practice Playback Theatre Collective as a community engagement program of Window Seat in 2021. Brave Practice uses storytelling, interviewing, deep listening, self-expression, and making art with empathy to help people connect in community.

Elaine L & Meg R, Window Seat Media Staff