Saturday, November 9, 2013

Writing and Conducting an Interview - Handout and Lesson Ideas

I have the unique opportunity to be able to teach a Creative Writing class to some students over the lunch block to earn a little additional credit in English/Language Arts.  I like that Creative Writing gives me a broad range of potential teaching topics and allows me to really focus on fun ways I can help my students grow into becoming better writers, but sometimes the vast topic possibilities leave me, well. searching for what to teach next.  

With my school following the Iowa Core (almost identical to the Common Core standards), I felt that it was necessary to address the writing core in my classroom, but speaking and listening core standards as well, thus creating the idea to teach my students how to conduct an appropriate interview.

Let's be real for a second, though  - there are about a million and a half ways that you could frame writing and conducting interviews in a Creative Writing class, but I decided to attempt to make the interview a little more applicable.  That is, I wanted the students to actually be able to interview someone with the intention of gaining knowledge or information about a topic important and beneficial to themselves.  Anyone that has taught teenagers know that whether or not they want to be, there very much are very into themselves, so, I decided to ask my students to create interviews to ask their parents about themselves as part of a memoir unit.

The purpose of the interview was for students to create and conduct appropriate interviews to ask their parents more information about their families, lives, names, or any other topic that the students felt they might be able to include in a short memoir later.  

Once I introduced the topic and began gathering some pre-assessment information, I learned that my students lacked a lot of knowledge about the typical interview process.  I started out by facilitating a conversation about what the students knew about interviews (why we conduct interviews, when interviews are appropriate, what an interview looks like, etc.), then from that conversation we created a list on the whiteboard about the elements they felt that a "good" interview should include.  After creating this list, I showed students the YouTube video Katie Couric on How To Conduct an Interview.  My students needed a little background information on Katie Couric to understand why she was an appropriate authority on conducting interviews.  After watching the video, asked the students to help adapt the list of elements that a "good" interview should have. 

To show my students an example of what an interview looked like, I showed them the YouTube video @katiecouric: Drake , a video of Katie Couric conducting an interview with music artist, Drake.  My students were pretty intrigued and are still continuing to ask if they can watch another interview with someone like Drake. 

SO, after talking about interviews and how to conduct them, and watching an interview, I wanted the students to actually write one.  My class really struggles with getting started if I present them with a "blank page" moment, so I whipped up a quick graphic organizer to help the students create a rough draft of the interview they were going to create. 

The graphic organizer provides reminders that students should ask open-ended questions, make their interview conversational, and explain why they are conducing the interview to the interviewee.  If you're interested in picking up your own copy, click your way to my Teachers Pay Teacher's store to snag one for your class.  (Psssst... there's a preview below!)

After students completed their rough drafts on the graphic organizer, I split students into pairs to role play their interviews.  If any parts of the role play interview weren't quite right, the students had the opportunity to edit their graphic organizers.  Once all of the editing was complete, I asked the students to write the final copy of their interview on a separate sheet of paper.

I hope these ideas work as well for you as they did for me!  If you implement these ideas in your classroom, shoot me a comment to tell me how it went.

Happy Teaching!  

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