|Wouldn't it be great to have interviewed this woman?|
There are other opportunities for interviewing that help students feel comfortable: they interview parents to discover the origin of their names, interview other teachers to discover something interesting to tell about those teachers, interview classmates about favorite books, and so on.
The small assignments lead to the culminating assignment, a history research project to find an area of history where there is a possibility of finding a living person to talk with, to find out their own experience during that time. Parent and staff help was asked to find the people who might be interviewees. Parent help was enlisted to drive students to the interview. The interview was conducted, written as if the person was telling his or her story, photos were taken. Then, before the final draft was accepted, a follow-up visit to the person interviewed was needed to get permission to publish. After all that, all the research checked, the revisions approved, a final copy was made for the person interviewed and a class celebration and sharing occurred with the interviewees attending. It was a celebration of those life experiences, of the learning involved, and of the very hard work accomplished to put it all together.
It is a powerful culmination of learning about history from one who lived it. To young students, it is way better than reading in a history book. That is why it is my favorite assignment.