Roots with Wings, a Floyd County Place-Based Education Project:: Intergenerational Connections

Floyd Story Center

Since 1998, a community oral history collection partnership of the Old Church Gallery, Ltd., Radford University’s Center for Social and Cultural Research, Honors Program, Scholar-Citizen Initiative, Appalachian Regional and Rural Studies Center, and Floyd County High School. Our archives now hold over 100 interviews.

In our Roots with Wings project, college mentors, high school staff, and community volunteers meet weekly during the school year to teach the discipline of oral history collection to Floyd County High School students.

Students learn ethical, methodologically sound interview techniques, practice and complete several interviews, transcribe the audiotapes, create searchable content logs, archive interviewee resources and period photographs, learn the technology of audio and video recording, research historical backgrounds, acquire proficiency in iMovie and storytelling, and finally extract a theme from an hour long interview to create a seven minute movie production.

Monday, March 23, 2015

No Robots Please


A cold, snowy winter prevented RU students from going to FCHS for the past several weeks, but brown is turning green, pushing winter on its way.

During that time Mrs. Myers has been working to prepare students for interview day.  Kathleen and Catherine have also spent lots of class time making sure each student gets hands-on practice with all the audio/video equipment.

Last week RU students facilitated an interview practice session.  A few RU students acted out scripted examples of good and bad interviews. 

Look closely, and you will see Dr. Wagner's baseball cap (disguising her character as a teenage boy) as she portrays an interviewee for practice purposes. 
FCHS students brainstormed good "good" and bad "bad" aspects they observed in the practice interviews.

FCHS student Michael O. is seen interpreting a list of various "bad" interview examples as offered by the class.  A list of good interviewer techniques was nearby. 
Everyone then got into their "Interview Day" groups and FCHS students interviewed RU students.

Luke M. and Alex C. create interview questions based on the background of each WWII veteran to be interviewed on Thursday, March 26th.
In one group, Luke M. (FCHS) was attentively listening to his interviewee, Kasey C. (RU), until she mentioned the university she attended.

Luke:  "Where?!"

Kasey: "The University of Hogwarts."

Luke recovered quickly and asked insightful questions about what goes on at this university.  Ask him about it, the wizardry was beyond me.

Interviewer Things to Remember

  • Lots of eye contact with interviewee
  • Face interviewee not camera
  • Inject enthusiasm in your voice
  • Ask How and open-ended questions
  • Listen, listen, listen

This week is Interview Day!  Students will set up their studio in the Hotel Floyd and complete a total of four interviews.  

If you know any of the film crew or interviewees wish them awesome audio/video and lots of fun!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Why Archive?  

A digital journey and using Creative Commons Search 

2001 RU class with Kathleen holding interview media files

With our first boxes of audio tapes and photographs from Dr. Melinda Wagner's 1999 and 2001 Radford University classes, the Floyd Story Center initiated an archival mission to preserve Floyd County oral history collections for future generations.  

In a digital age, this means assessing the information content, organizing the files for digital storage, and updating it for new forms of media as the decades pass. This semester, we are grateful for the help of Sam Kennedy, CSCR RU work study, as he reviews and refreshes these early transcript files for the community digital archives. 

And, as media creators, we are also fans of Creative Commons, the site that allows free sharing of information though open licenses.  Their search engine- portal for finding licensed content [ I want something that I can... ]   is definitely worth exploring. 
Need more convincing?  Listen to The Kitchen Sisters, and hear how they became advocates for preserving and archiving their own WWII interviews and collected material from thirty years ago. 

Read more about our "Roots with Wings" WWII interviews in the blog posts below, and see previous years' interviews archived hereOur inter-generational oral history program is currently helping Floyd County High School students prepare for new interviews this month.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

iMovie 101

All this work to find theme, but how do you actually make a film?     We use i-Movie.

 Last week Radford University student Bianca taught a lesson on how to navigate the software that comes preloaded on all Apple computers. We all watched an introductory video made by John Hildreth, Associate Director, RU's Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning.  Next, FCHS students paired with RU students and everyone got hands-on experience using the program.

Michael (FCHS) learns iMovie skills as Kasey (RU) helps navigate the software.

The focus of the lesson was to get familiar with the editing techniques that iMovie will let you do to give your short film a theater feel.  

 FCHS students Jason and Cody are deep in thought as they get iMovie tips.

Students learned how to set up a project in iMovie, insert film clips, and transitions, titles, maps, music and photos.

Bianca wrapped up the lesson by asking everyone to name one thing they learned from the day.

Students now have a better idea of how to edit a film and can start thinking about the raw material that they will need to gather to feed the editing machine.

"I like the idea of the documentary as a portrait. There's not a chronological beginning, middle, and end structure. You build something in the editing room that's shaped by getting to know the person and digging deeper, un-peeling the layers of them as you get to know them."  Spike Jonze

Stay warm and safe during this snowy weather! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Archeologist Finds Pink Artifact

A filmmaker is a storyteller, is an artist, is an archeologist.  

We search, sift, and salvage slices of life then stitch them into a story.  Last week students tackled the nitty-gritty:  what's a story anyway?  There are two main things to think about when building a story.  A film is a composed work of art and needs what many works of art need:  unity, rhythm, and balance.  Keeping these concepts in mind will help students build story works of art.

Catherine's pink artifact tower demonstrates key composition concepts used to build a story.

The other ingredient in making a story is theme. A theme can be stated as an assertion:  My smartphone is stupid.  It's what drives and unifies the story.  Dr. Wagner led an archeological exploration of an assertion involving a well-known fast-food place.  Students brainstormed and listed all evidence that made our assertion true.  

Kathleen then led the construction phase:  each piece of evidence, or artifact, translates into a film clip.  These can be arranged on a storyboard to illustrate and plan your story.


FCHS student Lacy collects her artifacts for storyboarding.

Finding theme is the most difficult part of a filmmaker's work, but it's also the most exciting.  We get to unify a bunch of artifacts, balancing them just so, and find the rhythm they combine to make a story.

See you next week!