What would you have asked? Imagined Interviews

What would you have asked? Imagined Interviews
Social Studies - American History
Time Frame:
Depends on prior tech experiences, but about four class periods, plus homework. [1 class period for research (and homework). 1 class period to draft questions and responses and script their interview. 1 class period to tape interviews. 1 class period to edit interviews.]
Students will imagine they have traveled back in time to the civil war as a reporter. They will have the opportunity of a lifetime to interview an important historical figure of their choice. As their interview will run on a local news broadcast, their edited questions and answers can take no more than 2 minutes to show. (This could obviously be modified to any period in history, American or otherwise.)
  1. In groups of three, students will select an important person from the civil war era to interview (e.g. Lincoln, Douglass, Douglas, Lee, Grant, McClellan, slave, Northern Soldier, Southern Soldier, Widow from either side, Booth, etc.).
  2. Students will research their selected person. One student will use an encyclopedia, one will use google to find a quality site, and one will use the classroom textbooks (especially Hakim).
  3. Each student will summarize their findings into no more than 5 bullet items describing the most important things to know about their person and no more than 5 bullet points describing the most interesting things to know about their person.
  4. For homework, each student must draft at least two shorter answer questions and two longer answer questions that can be answered, at least partially, by the information in one or more of the bulleted points. (They can use the Question Starters handout to assure they get a variety of questions.) The students must also draft answers for these questions.
  5. Groups compare each others' bulleted notes, drafted questions, and answers. Then they select up to four questions that they feel will take about 2 minutes to answer. Once they have their questions and answers selected, they script their interview. They need to include:
    • an introduction from an Anchor who sends it out to the field reporter
    • a second, shorter introduction from the field reporter
    • questions and answers from the field reporter and interviewee (if teaching video skills - the shots in this section should include a two-shot, an over the shoulder shot, close-ups, and at least 1 reaction shot)
    • a closing from the field reporter who sends it back to the anchor in the studio
  6. For homework, the students should select clothing and/or objects appropriate to their role of anchor, field reporter, or historical figure.
  7. Students tape their interviews following their scripts (if you only have 1 camera, you may want to have 1 group at a time work during lunch, before or after school, or while the class is doing something else in social studies).
  8. If using computer editing software (iMovie, Flipshare, Movie Maker, etc.) students import their video into the computer and edit the interview according to their scripts. (Students who finish early may want to add an opening title with “broadcast” type music. If using iPod touches, iPhones, or iPads, students can edit using the device itself.
  9. Sharing Options:
    • Student morning news
    • Students play their finished interviews to the class on an LCD projector or Smartboard
    • Students (or teacher) posts videos to YouTube and then to class blog, wiki, or Moodle where classmates can reply. This could be followed by an "Open Computer" test.
  • Common Core
  • Perspectives/Empathy
  • Role playing
  • Social Studies: Standard 1.2 – Comprehending the past Standard 1.3 – Analyzing and interpreting the past Standard 1.4 – Judging decisions from the past (depending on their questions) English Language Arts: Standard 1 – All students will read and comprehend general and technical material. Standard 2 - All students will demonstrate the ability to write clear and grammatically correct sentences, paragraphs, and compositions. Standard 6. Voice All students will learn to communicate information accurately and effectively and demonstrate their expressive abilities by creating oral, written, and visual texts that enlighten and engage an audience. Standard 8. Genre and Craft of Language All students will explore and use the characteristics of different types of texts, aesthetic elements, and mechanics—including text structure, figurative and descriptive language, spelling, punctuation, and grammar—to construct and convey meaning. Standard 11. Inquiry and Research All students will define and investigate important issues and problems using a variety of resources, including technology, to explore and create texts. Technology: NETS 4 – Technology communication tools: Students use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences. NETS 5 – Technology research tools: Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
See Imagined Interviews Rubric
  • Textbooks
  • Encyclopedia (online or book)
  • Internet access
  • iMovie or similar software
  • Video camera (iPod touch, iPad, Flip, Smartphone, etc.)
  • Links to teacher or student examples.
Possible Modifications
  • Begin the lessons by having the students watch interviews taped from local news shows and have them describe the camera and questioning techniques used.
  • Students could interview characters from literature or authors; local or regional people on local issues; school personnel; or a scientist (current or from the past) about their work.
  • Differentiation - More advanced students could listen to a sample Jefferson podcast and use that as inspiration to dig more into role playing and/or into asking questions that connect to issues of today.


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