Class Tech Tips: The Great Thanksgiving Listen

Class Tech Tips: The Great Thanksgiving Listen

I love a good story, so I was super excited to find out that the folks at Adobe Spark have partnered with StoryCorps for a new special project. The Great Thanksgiving Listen is a powerful initiative from StoryCorps that ask people of all ages to gather stories by interviewing an elder – it also inspires some lesson ideas for Thanksgiving and beyond. StoryCorps has a great free app to help you capture stories from friends and relatives during Thanksgiving.

Adobe Spark lets users capture moments too and they’ve partnered with StoryCorps to give a visual storytelling spin on this special initiative. Here’s the full announcement. Capturing stories from across generations is an important part of learning about ourselves, our world and the people that surround us.

The Great Thanksgiving Listen

Giving students an opportunity or encouragement to capture stories during special events, holidays, or everyday moments includes preparing them with strategies and tools to get the job done. The team at StoryCorps has put together helpful resources for teachers. On this page you’ll find information on how to introduce this activity to students. You might also want to show off this TEDTalk video to share the story behind StoryCorps.

The Great Thanksgiving Listen can be incorporated into activities across the content areas and scaled to the level of your learners. You might ask students to brainstorm a variety of prompts or angles for capturing stories. Alternatively, you may have students pitch different ideas to their classmates for feedback.

Adobe Spark Lesson Ideas for Thanksgiving

If you’ve visited this site before you know I’m a huge fan of the Adobe Spark tools. From capturing understanding with virtual exit slips and integrating with Google Classroom, to school branding and website creation, the three Spark tools are absolute favorites. Open-ended creation tools like Spark Post, Spark Page and Spark Video give students and users of all ages endless possibilities for sharing stories. On this page you’ll find specific ways to leverage the Spark tools for telling stories as part of The Great Thanksgiving Listen and I’ve included a few more on the list below.

Spark Post is a graphic design tool that is perfect for capturing quotes, spotlighting images, and acting as inspiration. Your students might snap a picture during an interview or use a photograph from the past and layer text on top of the image. Spark Post makes it really easy to share on social media too and you can change the size of the graphic you create to fit Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or many others.

Spark Video is an easy-to-use video tool that I love using on iOS devices so it’s a great choice for movie-making on the go. You might include audio or video from a conversation in your movie or spotlight a special moment in someone’s life. Spark Video also works on the web so it’s friendly for Chromebook classrooms.

Spark Page is a website creation tool that gives users the power to add text, images, video, and links to their page. If your students create a transcript of their interview, this tool is a great way to share it with the world. Spark Pages are hosted online and your students will have a link to share when they are finished creating their page.

The idea of capturing stories doesn’t have to be exclusive to the holiday season. You might have students interview community members about what their town or city was like long ago, or ask them to share their reflections or memories around a notable event in recent history. These type of first hand accounts are powerful ways to bring relevance to a topic studied in a history classroom. You might also find these stories are helpful for laying the foundation for diving into a new text with students or exploring a science topic related to your community.

I've had the pleasure of working with this company. All opinions are my own.

cross posted at

Monica Burns is a fifth grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom. Visit her website at for creative education technology tips and technology lesson plans aligned to the Common Core Standards.