Family Stories Project Update

INSIDE: A quick update on the project. A touching video about family stories.

Thank you so much for your help with the family stories project. I've extended the "due date" so that kids could get more stories into their maps.

As the stories have come in, I am so pleased with what I have been hearing from the kids. So many of them have reported that they are learning things about their families that they either a) did not know before, and/or b) if they had heard the stories, they report that they had not understood them to the degree they now understand them.

I think this is cool stuff.

I am also impressed with the way the digital maps seem to help the students situate the stories they have in time and place. Several discovered just what a small town a distant relative moved to. This caused them to imagine what those lives might have been like so long ago.

Some noticed how clustered their pins are, a sign of how important having a home place is in our lives. Others noticed how far-flung their pins are, a sign of how so many of us, at some point in our lives, have been migrants or immigrants.

Still others could pinpoint the EXACT PLACE some past event occurred. There is something special that can happen when time, place, and stories are combined.

I told the kids that this map will be theirs for as long as they want to keep it. They can add to it any time during the year, or even in the years to come. They can look back on it if they want, maybe when they are in high school when they want to open a time capsule that shows just a smidgeon of who they were when they were a fifth-grader living in a small town in NE Iowa.

My father died a year and a half ago. Two years before he died I sat down with him to record stories about my grandfather, who died before I was born. I was inspired by the National Day of Listening to talk about my grandfather and their life on the farm in north-central Minnesota.

It was one of the more meaningful things that I have done. And now I have a recording of my father's voice talking about his father. Son. To father, who was also a son. To his father, who I can only know through these stories. I highly recommend doing something like this, if you feel moved.

Finally, here's a very touching short video from artist, filmmaker, Colin Levy, who opened his grandfather's "memory book" and found inside a bunch of stories, stories that helped him see some of his grandfather's depth, humor, and imagination and which sparked a conversation with his own father.

Our lives are made of stories.

Click here to open the video link.