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Gathering Information

JHS Students Learn The Art Of Interviewing

Senior, Savanna Jolly, showed School Psychologist, Susan Mead, her multimedia interview, which reflected Mrs. Mead's idea of a perfect day as well as a remembrance of her first love. Submitted photo

Interviewing is not an easy skill to master.

For journalists, interviewing is essential to their jobs. They need to have good interviewing skills or they may not be successful at their jobs.

Interviewing is not just asking questions. Interviewing is also listening and understanding.

For Heather Schultz, a teacher at Jamestown High School, she showed her students the importance of interviewing by having them create interview montages as a culminating project after reading “Tuesdays with Morrie,” a story about a student and professor who spend time together. Each student interviewed an adult at JHS and then used technology to create a Google slide about that adult. In the book by Mitch Albom, the main character, Mitch, interviews his former professor, Morrie, who is dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, on a variety of different topics including dying, marriage, love, regrets, and forgiveness.

Schultz said she would have her students read one chapter per day and work on vocabulary and comprehension questions.

“Students also participated in three Socratic Seminars, where they would have approximately ten questions given to them. They had to answer at least five questions and be ready to respond. Each student was required to speak three times. They could simply answer the question with depth or respond to a thought or opinion that another classmate expressed. Students were given speaking and listening grades for these activities. They were expected to make eye contact, speak clearly, and be respectful of those who were talking,” she said.

Schultz said to prepare her students for the interview process, she had the students create a list of questions. The students then worked in groups to create questions based on the life lessons that Morrie was teaching in the book and some get-to-know-you questions.

“After the groups generated their list of questions together, we put them all together as a class and organized them into common themes. I then wrote approximately 20 questions from those lists that students would use for their interviews,” she said.

Schultz noted that a teacher can never assume that all of the students in class know how to “appropriately” interact with someone they may not know. “Some were nervous and others were very excited. We had a class discussion about how to introduce themselves, appropriate interactions and responses to adults, speaking voice, eye contact and overall friendliness. We also discussed that they would need to make sure they thanked the person for the interview. We had a few students volunteer to ‘role play’ and introduce themselves to each other in the classroom as practice. I needed to make sure that they had a firm handshake, made eye contact, smiled, and spoke so the person could hear them. Many of the kids had to practice that handshake over and over,” she said.

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Schultz said the project was the culminating activity after reading and discussing the book. The students had one week after they interviewed the staff member to finish their project and then, she added, the staff members would be invited to view the final product. According to Schultz, students were responsible for interviewing a staff member that they were assigned. They asked questions that were related to the lessons taught in the book.

“The students and staff involved really enjoyed this project,” the Schultz said.

Senior Savanna Jolly, showed her multi-media interview to School Psychologist Susan Mead, which reflected Mead’s idea of a perfect day as well as a remembrance of her first love.

“I really enjoyed visiting with Savanna and answering the interview questions,” Mead said. “Savanna took diligent notes during the interview and put the information into a verbal narrative with accompanying photos. I felt emotionally touched when Savannah shared her final presentation with me, especially the photos she carefully selected to represent the information she collected during the interview. I hope Savannah enjoyed this experience as much as I did, Mead added.

Schultz added that the students used important life skills that they would use in the workforce.

“It’s so important for kids going into the workforce to have good communication and listening skills, which is also part of the ELA standards. They needed to use both of those skills to be able to conduct a meaningful interview. It also required many of them to use skills outside of their comfort zone in order to grow as learners and individuals. The teachers and staff who were interviewed really appreciated having the conversations with the kids and sharing the final project,” Schultz said.

THE PROJECT

¯ After questions were generated, students were assigned a time to meet with the staff member and interview them.

¯ When finished with the interview, students needed to create one slide in Google slides that would be part of a whole group slide presentation. Each student was assigned his/her own slide within the presentation.

¯ Students needed to choose 20 pictures that represented and described the person they interviewed.

¯ Students also had to create an Apple QuickTime audio recording and insert it into the slide. The audio recording was a description about the person they interviewed and experiences they have had in their lives such as first love, fears, and embarrassing moments.

¯ Students also asked staff members “What advice would you give to someone my age?” Students asked this question because they are getting ready to graduate soon and move on with life.

¯ When the slides were completed, students were able to view the other slides and have a class discussion about what they liked or found interesting about other adults.

¯ At the end, all staff members were invited to the classroom to view their presentations and listen to the audio recordings.

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