Student Interview Kit

Inspired by the project of Newsela educator, Morgan Dowell, the Student Interview Kit is a lesson guide with a collection of interview questions to help students engage with the stories of family members. Students will practice listening skills by recording notes. After the interviews, students will share their stories with classmates and can use iMovie to create an oral history.

Here is a summary of Ms. Dowell's "Great Thanksgiving Challenge": 

Step 1

Share and assign the article: StoryCorps Enlists Teens to be Part of Thanksgiving Oral History Project. The article explains, “the organization’s mission to have tens of thousands of teenagers across America to record an interview with a grandparent or another elder this Thanksgiving.”

Step 2

Have students share their thoughts about the importance of face-to-face conversations.  Discuss the benefits of listening to different points of view especially those of different generations.  

Step 3

Brainstorm interview questions:

  • Tell me about where you were born.
  • What was the biggest moment in your life?
  • What was school like?
  • Tell me about your job.
  • What was the most terrifying moment in your life?
  • What was your greatest accomplishment?
  • Where did you go to college?
  • What was the world like when you were a child?
  • Tell me about our family history.
  • What is the biggest change that you have experienced in your life?
  • What did you like about school?
  • What were your hobbies, interests, sports?
  • Tell me about the time you got in the most trouble.  
  • What was the music like back then?

Step 4

Have students select a family member to interview. Encourage students to take notes and record answers to interview questions. 

Step 5

Share interview responses in class. Compare and contrast family stories. 

Step 6

(Extension) Students can use iMovie or YouTube editor to create an oral history. 

Read a full account of Ms. Dowell's Newsela Story on the Newsela Blog

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