Today students pitched over 150 potential documentary topics to us. They sourced them from grandparents, older family members or family friends. They asked about brushes with history or fame, about important inventions or events from their youth and about family stories that have been passed down through the generations. Students collected stories ranging from the 1800s to 2016. They collected stories that happened down the road and across the globe. (See our digital map of stories below.)
Students go through the process of pitching three topic ideas to show us their passion for a particular topic. Sometimes, students don’t know that one of the topics that may seem least interesting is actually a gold mine waiting to be uncovered. In years past, a student was reluctant to dive into a topic relating to his grandmother’s friendship with the family of Jesse Curry. Once he discovered that Curry was the Dallas Chief of Police during the assassination of JFK, he changed his topic choice.
By looking at the topics on a timeline and on a map, we can help students to see the diversity of stories available to them. By listening to their passions and guiding their choices, each student ends up with a topic that interests them with which to work for the remainder of the year. Soon we will post the final story choices and share how we begin teaching students to conduct preliminary research so that they can begin to craft effective interview questions before “interview season” begins in November.