Telling the stories of Grisham Middle School’s students, staff and community was the center of an assignment for Jennie Tidwell’s seventh-grade language arts class this semester as groups of students created audio documentaries through a Texas Folklife partnership.
Tidwell brought the program to Grisham after attending Texas Folklife’s “Stories From Deep In The Heart” 2014 summer institute where she learned the techniques for audio documentary productions. Texas Folklife is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and presenting the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State, according to the organization.
“Audio documentaries combine so many different skills,” Tidwell said. “In language arts, we do reading and writing and this project was really great for differentiation. There were so many different jobs involved so each kids kind of found their niche.”
Texas Folklife staff came into the classroom throughout the project to guide students through their storytelling and help find their voice. The students used professional recorders provided by Texas Folklife to gather the audio and then worked to create spreadsheets to log footage and edit content for the final product.
“I enjoyed making the audio stories because it was fun to do the editing,” said Mary Miller, seventh-grade Grisham student. “It’s just a cool, hands-on experience to see how it’s done.”
The class created five unique documentaries ranging from cultural food traditions, a secretary’s double life as a poet and a unique animal that visited Grisham. No matter what the students found interesting about the community, Texas Folklife staff hoped to inspire the class to continue documenting their lives from their perspective.
“There’s a certain level of discovery and curiosity that the students have when telling a story that’s unique and special,” said Charlie Lockwood, Texas Folklife operations and development director. “When you have a student discovering a story, it’s genuine and we can really feel that through them.”
To hear the Grisham audio documentaries in full, please visit the Texas Folklife website here.