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Student Investigators Gather Information - There Ought to be a Law
GRADE LEVELS 7-12
TIME ALLOTMENT 2-3 / 40 min. class periods plus time for individual interviews
In seeking answers from legislators and special interest groups, it is important
that students learn effective strategies for gathering pertinent information.
Students learn how to conduct effective interviews by using technology as an
essential tool in researching, communicating and publishing
SUBJECT MATTER Language Arts / Social Studies/ Maine Studies
Students will be able to: Use a wide range of strategies to address different
audiences for a variety of purposes; Write or speak for reflective, creative
and informational purposes;
*Record significant information from interviews conducted;
* Make extensive use of primary sources when researching a topic;
* Ask pertinent questions when interviewing
* Demonstrate an understanding of the lives of selected local/ state figures.
STANDARDS National Standards: (NCTE)
use a variety of technological and information resources to gather and synthesize
information and to create and communicate knowledge.
develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns,
and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
Maine State Learning Results:
- Research-Related Writing and Speaking: Students will work, write, and speak
effectively in connection with research in all content areas
- Research involves generating ideas and posing questions. It includes gathering,
evaluating, and synthesizing data from a variety of sources (e.g. print, non-print,
and electronic texts, examination of artifacts, interviews, with people).
- Researching and reporting use a variety of informational and technological
resources to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate
- Processes of Writing and Speaking: Students will develop the ability to use
the skills and strategies of the writing process.
- History/ Historical Inquiry, Analysis, and Interpretation: Students evaluate
primary sources when gathering information.
This lesson is integrated into the simulation activity for the documentary, There
Ought To be a Law. Teachers should be prepared in the instruction of interviewing
skills. Prepare two index cards for your mock interview. Have questions prepared
to demonstrate the difference between "closed" and "open" interview questions.
INTRODUCTORY ACTIVITY: SETTING THE STAGE
Explain to the students that they will be interviewing a person in the legislature
or from a special interest group who will have valuable information to share.
Tell them know that a good interviewer can get information without distancing
the subject. It is important to make the subject feel at ease and the ultimate
success of an interview depends on the questions asked and the manner in which
they are asked.
Having said this, choose a student to ask you two questions in front of the class.
Give the student the index cards with a "closed"question.
For example, have students ask the question: "Do you enjoy being
The response will be "yes." Ask the class why this type of question
is problematic. They will point out that it is a "yes" or "no" type
of question allowing for no detail. The next question, "Tell me about one
most exciting or memorable experiences you have had in the classroom." After
responding, have the class talk about the difference between the questioning,
Take a few minutes to brainstorm and list both "open" and "closed"
type questions in their Noteshare Notebook.
Before students conduct an actual interview, give them the opportunity to interview
Begin by passing out five index cards per student and have them write out "open"
questions to ask a peer. The goal should be to get the subject to recall an interesting
story about his/her past.
Have student pair up, and as one interviews the other, he/she should take notes
following the guidelines for elements of a good interview. Allow enough time
for both interviews to take place.
Process with the whole class by having students come forward to model the
interview and share what they learned form each other. Encourage the class to
ask questions and share reflections.
Now it is time for the real interview.
Elements of a Good Interview:
* Be Prepared
Try to research or gather information about your subject before the interview.
Have a pen and pad if keyboarding skills are good, take laptop to interview.
Dress appropriately if meeting them in person
* Be a Good Observer
Try to make your subject feel at ease by noticing how they react and allowing
them to talk.
* Be Objective
Try not to react emotionally to the responses.
* Note Taking and media
Try to develop a way to take notes by abbreviating. Ask the person that you will
be interviewing if they mind you using a tape recorder, ipod, or a laptop. Also
make sure they do not mind if you publish their responses in your student made
Ask if it is ok to call if you have further questions.
Students will need laptop (useNoteshare) or device of choice for recording the
Digital camera or movie camera
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