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Hrm 1101 Interview Assignment Middle School

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Lesson Plan

Introducing Each Other: Interviews, Memoirs, Photos, and Internet Research


Grades6 – 8
Lesson Plan TypeUnit
Estimated TimeSixteen 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author





In this unit, paired students read background information about each other, plan and conduct initial and follow-up interviews, and write articles about each other. Partners also write and exchange personal memoirs. Partners plan, propose, and take digital photographs that reveal each other's personality and interests. Then they research the Internet for facts, lists, and illustrations that demonstrate their partners' interests. All of this information is placed creatively on a poster, and each student presents his or her partner to the class.

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The Interview: This student reproducible offers extensive guidance and tips for conducting successful interviews.

Introduce Yourself: Students can use these completed questionnaires about their partners as a starting point for drafting interview questions.

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In her article advocating for active learning in the college classroon, Nancy Lawson Remler states: "I believe that active learning not only helps students meet course objectives and grasp important concepts; it also helps students "become aware of strategies for learning and problem solving" (McKeachie, Pintrich, Lin, and Smith 1). Moreover, active learning facilitates enthusiasm in the classroom, enthusiasm that possibly reaps other, long-term benefits:" (76) By having students actively engaged in interviewing, researching, photographing, and other active learning tasks, this lesson invites students' enthusiasm and demands higher level strategies for learning, helping to create an engaged community of learners. The varied nature of the tasks associated with this project allow students to read and write in mulitple modalities, which, according to the NCTE Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies, "can enhance or transform the meaning of the work beyond illustration or decoration." 

Further Reading

Remler, Nancy Lawson. "The More Active the Better: Engaging College English Students with Active Learning Strategies." Teaching English in the Two-Year College 30.1 (September 2002): 76-81


NCTE Executive Committee. 2005. Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies. Web. November 2009. http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/multimodalliteracies.

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Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.



Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.



Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.



Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.



Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).


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Resources & Preparation


  • Sample interview articles—these can easily be obtained from current newspapers and magazines. It is very effective to invite a local reporter to speak to the class and explain the process behind an article that he/she has written. A journalist can also provide very helpful notes for students; one such set of notes is provided here. As an alternative, a member of your high school newspaper staff could speak to your students. If a speaker is not available, use notes gathered from writing texts such as Write Source 2000. The NY Times Website provides a link for students to ask reporters questions about interviewing and writing. Many city newspapers provide similar sites.

  • Sample memoirs are readily available in most literature anthologies, and chapters of autobiographical books also work well. Select examples that are diverse in style and subject. You may encourage students to write a poem or to use present tense as Donald Graves and Stafford and Dunning suggest.

  • Notes on planning a good photograph. Photography, journalism, or art teachers are good resources here. Again, inviting an “expert” to demonstrate is helpful, but anyone who is experienced with digital cameras can do this presentation.

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Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Printing Press

The interactive Printing Press is designed to assist students in creating newspapers, brochures, and flyers.


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  • Arrange for guest speakers if possible. Local newspapers, parents, and special subject teachers are good possibilities. (Offer to switch places with a special subject teacher for a period or two.)

  • Prepare a questionnaire for students to complete early in the year. An "Introduce Yourself!" packet serves two purposes: you can get to know something about each student, and you can make sure that there is enough background information to spark interview questions. Nancie Atwell has excellent ideas for questions, but you can ask any questions that you think will elicit interesting answers. Good possibilities include “What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?” and “What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?” Lists of favorites are helpful, too. In order to help writers to establish a focus in an interview and article, you might ask each student what they would like a newspaper story about them to emphasize.

  • Fill out the questionnaire yourself and prepare a class set of copies. Your students can use it to practice writing good questions.

  • Some students like to use tape recorders for their interviews, and some prefer to take notes. Check on the availability of recorders, cassette tapes, and batteries in your school. Many kids have microcassette recorders that they can bring from home.

  • Prepare scoring keys and planning sheets in advance so that both you and the students have targets.

  • If possible, prepare a sample poster. (This unit is set up for posters as final projects, but if you and students are comfortable with PowerPoint, some may prefer to do a slide show. You could adjust requirements for the project accordingly. You could write your own memoir and have someone take a photo of you, or you could use material from a celebrity interview or autobiography. Use Internet sites to find pictures, lyrics of favorite songs, top-ten lists, sports statistics, poems, book titles, etc., that reflect personal interests. Arrange all the material attractively on a piece of poster board or as part of a slide show.

  • Schedule computer time and check with your school librarian/computer specialist about appropriate Web sites that are not filtered out by your system.

  • Arrange to borrow a digital camera or two—more if you can get them. Also make sure that you have access to a computer that will print the photos. If you have a classroom computer, it is best if you can print there while kids are working on other things. It is not necessary to use photo-quality paper, but it is helpful to be able to adjust brightness, contrast, and size for the pictures.

  • Prepare hall passes for students to use when they are out and about taking photos. Get permission and determine limitations on where students can go. (In my building other teachers help out; one of the physical education teachers monitors students who want to take pictures in the pool area, and other teachers welcome kids into the library, computer lab, etc.). Pair up the students in your class. Do not allow good friends to work together; they often assume that they know everything about each other and don't ask interesting questions. In the end, the students enjoy learning about kids they didn't know well before. If you have an uneven number, a trio can work together, but they will often need time extensions. It can help to put a potentially unreliable student into a trio; the extra help often keeps that student going, and it is always possible, in extreme cases, to revert to a pair.

  • Plan the schedule so that you have enough time to read all the papers and allow the students time to rewrite each one. The due date for the final project should be at least a week after the final rewrites are collected so that you have time to read them again and return them. You can double up activities so that some students are taking photos or searching the Internet while others are working on rewriting papers.

  • This unit has been done with eighth graders who have experience with computers and word processing; many have had instruction with digital cameras. Students without such background may need additional support.

  • Students for whom the memoir is new can read more teen-interest articles in preparation. If you intend to offer poems as an option for memoirs, you might do this unit after a poetry unit so that students are familiar with form, imagery, etc.

  • Students may find it difficult to limit the focus of their articles. If they have not had practice with this, they will need some support. Analyzing some sample articles will help, and this will also provide an opportunity to look at catchy lead sentences. You will need to reassure the students that it is not possible to use all their gathered information in their final articles. This unit is a good place to reinforce adjective and adverb clauses since students will find that complex sentences will help them to write interesting, detailed articles and memoirs.

  • Students may need help with the concept of primary and secondary sources. It helps to use something they are studying in another class or a recent event in the school as an example. For instance, their social studies chapter on the Declaration of Independence is a secondary source, but the document itself is a primary source, as are the letters, diaries, and newspaper articles written by the men who wrote and voted on the document. The student whose best friend was on the school bus that broke down on the way to school is a secondary source, but the official report filed by the bus driver is a primary source. A person who wants more detail about the breakdown might interview the driver as well as the students who were actually on the bus at the time; these are also primary sources. The point here is to help students see that interviewing people is a valuable resource. Middle school students can interview Holocaust survivors, local government officials, authors, scientists, etc., for a wide variety of assignments.

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Instructional Plan


Students will

  • learn to conduct an interview using appropriate techniques and available technology.

  • maintain a clear focus in writing an interview article.

  • write a personal memoir.

  • revise and edit for publication.

  • use the Internet for research.

  • learn the difference between primary and secondary sources for research.

  • plan and carefully take a photograph of an interview subject.

  • complete a project integrating writing, photography, research, and graphic design.

  • present the results of the project to a class group.

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Session One

  1. Introduce the unit and explain the scope of the project. Show sample(s) and answer questions.

  2. Explain/demonstrate the difference between primary and secondary sources and the importance of interviewing as a research tool.

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Session Two

  1. Guest speaker (or prepared presentation) talks about how to prepare for an interview, writing initial and follow-up questions, and using interview notes to write an article.

  2. Students ask follow-up questions as necessary.

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Session Three

  1. Discuss the interview presentation and list ways that it can be applied to our interview assignment. Provide Interview handout.

  2. Using the questionnaire that the teacher has filled out, plan some initial and follow-up questions.

  3. Practice interviewing the teacher. (It is best not to “help” here; if a student asks a dead-end question, answer only what was asked. Then you can discuss ways to plan better questions.)

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Session Four

  1. Review interview basics and demonstrate use of tape recorders.

  2. Assign pairs for the project. Exchange Introduce Yourself! packets. Each student should read his/her partner’s packet carefully and write at least five interview questions and at least one follow-up for each question. These questions must be completed for homework.

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Session Five

Begin interviews. For homework each student should write the focus of his/her article, using either a headline or a lead sentence. For more information on teaching leads see Leading to Great Places in the Middles School Classroom. In addition, each student should make a list of follow-up questions that still need to be answered.

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Session Six

  1. Distribute and discuss the Interview Article Scoring Key. Announce the due date (in about one week).

  2. Discuss the elements of a good photograph: location, lighting, distance, angle; clothing, props, expression, tone.

  3. In pairs, students should complete follow-up interviews and begin the Interview Project Photograph Plan sheet.

  4. Students should begin to write their articles for homework. You may want to provide workshop time for working on the articles at this point.

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Session Seven

  1. Discuss essential elements of memoirs and read several samples in class.

  2. Complete the photo plan.

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Session Eight

  1. Read more memoir samples in class and discuss them.

  2. Begin the Memoir Planning Sheet. Students must complete this exercise for homework.

  3. Students whose photo plan has been approved and who have their materials may leave in pairs to take their photos. (This will continue for several days, depending on how many cameras you have available.)

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Session Nine

  1. Distribute and discuss the Memoir Assignment Scoring Key. Announce the due date (in about one week).

  2. If necessary or desired, practice descriptive writing. For example, ask students to “show” you a messy room or a bratty toddler.

  3. Workshop time for the memoir and photos.

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Session Ten

Workshop day. Students should work on articles, memoirs, or photos.

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Session Eleven

  1. Discuss the Internet search. Suggest helpful sites (or ask your librarian to do so).

  2. Distribute and discuss the Interview Project Scoring Key.

  3. Students should make a list of at least eight items that they plan to search for on the Internet. This list should be completed for homework.

  4. Workshop time.

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Session Twelve

Workshop time to revise articles, complete memoirs, and take photos.

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Sessions Thirteen and Fourteen

Internet search. Schedule at least one full period for this computer work; two classes would be better, but availability of computers may be a problem. Many students will continue their searches at home.

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Session Fifteen

(This may be several days later, depending on when you are able to finish reading all the memoirs)

  1. Workshop time to revise memoirs. Set a due date for revised memoirs.

  2. Revised articles should be turned in by this time.

  3. Establish a final due date for the completed project, allowing yourself enough time to read all the revised papers and students enough time to create and decorate the poster or make the slide show once all papers are returned.

  4. If desired, demonstrate the Printing Press, and show students how to use options in the tool to publish their posters.

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Presentation Day

Each student will present his/her partner to the class by explaining the completed project. Posters can then be displayed in homerooms or hallways, and finally students take home to their families the poster (or slide show on CD) created by their partners.

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  • The interview article, memoir, and the final project are formally scored according to a rubric which has been distributed and discussed in advance.

  • The oral presentation is scored using a short rubric.

  • Intermediate planning sheets and progress reports are given homework or class work points.

  • At the end of the unit, a general discussion is held to find out what students see as strengths and weaknesses of the unit.

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Related Resources


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Not Your Usual History Lesson: Writing Historical Markers

Students will develop their summarizing skills while learning about local history. They will learn to consider audience while selecting topics, conducting research and interviews, and writing historical markers for their town.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Chasing the Dream: Researching the Meaning of the American Dream

By conducting interviews, sharing and assessing data, and writing papers based on their authentic research, students reach their own conclusions on the meaning of the American Dream.


Grades   5 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Sharing Info from Informational Reading

Reporting on an informational book doesn't have to be boring! Instead of the traditional book report format, students create newspapers using a Printing Press interactive to share what they have learned from reading informational books.


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Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Printing Press

The interactive Printing Press is designed to assist students in creating newspapers, brochures, and flyers.


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Grades   7 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  April 24

On this day in 1800, Congress approved the purchase of books to start the Library of Congress.

Students practice and refine research skills by visiting the Library of Congress website and conducting a research project.


Grades   1 – 8  |  Calendar Activity  |  October 14

Kodak was issued a film patent on October 14, 1884.

Students create a scrapbook of their favorite pieces throughout the year and present it to parents at an end-of-year party.


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Grades   6 – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Teaching With Multiple Modalities

In this Strategy Guide, you'll see how one lesson utilizes tiered texts and multiple modalities in order to meet the learning style needs of students.


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Grades   6 – 12  |  Professional Library  |  Book

Getting the Knack: 20 Poetry Writing Exercises

Dunning and Stafford, both widely known poets and educators, offer this delightful manual of exercises for beginning poets.


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Grades   9 – 12  |  Activity & Project

Special Memories & Significant Moments: Making an Electronic Scrapbook

Using a variety of artifacts, mementos, and technologies, teens can create an electronic scrapbook of their most important moments in high school.


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August 13, 2014

Has THIS been taught/delivered in any classrooms? I love the idea of getting to know the students through the students! Are there any lessons that you would recommend we could combine? I'm wondering if 16 45 minute lessons is too many to maintain momentum and engagement with the project...
Has anyone allowed for multiple forms of final product? I'm thinking students could re-write the lyrics to a song to introduce their partner, write a poem, create a video/powerpoint, the poster as suggested... or have an Oprah style interview... I WILL be using this idea for September and am thrilled it has been shared! =D



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