Preparation and practice are the keys to a successful interview and amazing story. The goal of the interview is to get soundbites that connect with your audience, illuminate the topic, and move your story forward. This lesson can be used alone or in conjunction with:
This lesson is used when your students are ready to record a remote or in-person interview.
Interviews are central to most stories you see in the news. By doing an interview, students will have a much deeper understanding of the process, challenges, and decisions made by reporters and editors. These are all critical parts of media literacy and understanding the different elements of journalism that result in the video, audio, or text story that you find online.
Practicing interviews will help students understand how people talk with one another and explore different perspectives. Additionally, students who go outside their school walls and conduct interviews with local leaders, experts, etc. are engaging with their community in powerful and meaningful ways. Interviews help students follow their curiosity, go beyond textbooks and google, and gives them a tool to explore topics in real-world situations.
A conversation between two or more people where the purpose is to gather information and facts. The interviewer asks questions and the interviewee provides information based on their knowledge about a specific topic or issue.
The term “empathy” is used to describe a wide range of experiences. A generally definition is the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. In media-making, creators can have empathy for their subjects and the audience can empathize with the characters.
A short extract or clip from a recorded interview, chosen for its relevance to the story, pungency or appropriateness.
Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration multiple points of view represented in the sources, the types of sources available, and the potential uses of the sources. (NCSS D1.5.9-12)
Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. (ISTE)
Whether students are constructing opinions, explanation, or arguments, they will gather information from a variety of sources and evaluate the relevance of that information. (NCSS D3.1.9-12 - D3.2.9-12)
Interviewing requires you to actively listen, focus, think on your feet, and react appropriately to what the other person says. When you plan for an interview, you need to assess what you don’t know—a metacognitive skill—and learn a lot about the interview subject because otherwise, the interview will be awkward. This is real life, with real consequences if you’re unprepared and a real payoff if you do well—the heart of project-based learning.
Listening and really trying to appreciate where the other person is coming from is also an exercise in empathy and discovering how to connect. These life skills will help prepare students for college and jobs, and interviewing is a great way to address high school ELA and NGSS standards around communication, evaluating pertinent information, pulling important quotes, and emphasizing salient points, as well as ISTE and media literacy standards of digital production and multimedia presentations.
Use these slides with your students to help them prepare for their interview.
Ask students to fill in their pitch sheet and, if they have not already done so, spend 10 minutes writing their interview questions.
Explain that good reporters ask follow-up questions.
Play one of these two interviews and ask students to look for follow-up questions. You can use the transcript to highlight the follow-up questions and ask students why the reporter had to follow-up.
Review what makes a good interview (slides 15-29)
Keys to being a good interviewer:
Before you end the interview:
“What would you like to add? Something we did not cover?”
“What are some misconceptions you’d like to clear up?”
Always debrief after an interview write down your impressions
Divide the class into groups of three to practice their questions.
Explain that each student is going to read their questions and look at their subject as they would in the real interview. Then, students will share feedback to make their questions stronger.
After the group activity, ask each student to share out a question that they want to make better and engage the class in brainstorming ways to make it stronger.
Explain that after the interview is complete, they will transcribe the audio file.
Transcribing is the key to understanding what to use in your story. Play this video produced by students at Etiwanda High School in California to understand why students will not want to transcribe, but really need to!
When your students have finished their transcriptions, the next step is Scripting
Ask students: What did you learn from working on this project? What did you like best about it? What did you dislike and why?
Ask students: How might interviewing skills be useful in your life right now? In the future?
What are four words you can use to start a question that will help get strong and useful answers?
What is a follow-up question and why would you use one?