The Third Grade at East Montpelier Elementary School studied ethnographic methods with Vermont Folklife Center media instructor, Mike Leonard. Their project - entitled East Montpelier: Past, Present, Future - brought community members into the classroom to be interviewed on camera about their experiences living in East Montpelier. The interviews were then turned into a documentary by the 5th/6th Grade Tech Club.
The following lessons delivered by VFC staff provided the foundation for this project, emphasizing the importance of storytelling and practicing interviewing techniques:
Introduction to Storytelling
To understand the meaning and importance of storytelling
Anthropology, Ethnography, Ethics, Social Studies, Humanities, Storytelling
GRADE LEVELS: K-4
PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: None
understanding and interpreting storytelling, analysis of content and information, critical thinking
White board/markers, word bank, random objects for Autobiography of Anything, An Alien in My Town Worksheet
· Introduction – How do we define storytelling? (5 min)
o Ask the students to explain what they think storytelling means.
o Explain that storytelling is telling stories and that each story is a special way of sharing real or imagined events in a sequence.
o Explain that storytelling is a type of folk art. Explain that folk art is something that people do as a way of expressing their culture and identity. It is special because it exists for everybody, no special equipment is needed, it requires imagination, and allows people to pass on information/wisdom.
· What does storytelling consist of? (5 min)
o Ask students what a story consists of? They should answer: Beginning, middle, end. Includes some sort of events that happen – often with a conflict/resolution. It includes a setting and characters.
o Ask students to explain what kinds of stories exist.
o Explain that news, radio, songs, pictures, movies, listening to your friend, following instructions, dreaming, walking from point A-to-B. These are all different types of stories that explain events.
· What is the importance of storytelling? (10 min)
o Ask students why storytelling is important.
o Explain that stories are important because they are an effective way to:
§ Share information, make us think, laugh, cry, or feel a connection.
§ Teach us morals and the history of a culture – how we came to be
§ Build identity and a sense of belonging – who we are
§ Explain that everything has a story even if it doesn’t seem interesting – segue to
· POSSIBLE ACTIVITY: ‘Autobiography of Anything’
· How do we tell stories? (10-20 min)
o Ask students to share what it is they think makes a good story. What do they need to tell a story?
o Explain that in order to tell a good story you need information and details. We collect information by asking questions, observing our surroundings, and listening.
o Explain that another important part of telling a good story is how we present the story to others. Discuss different ways people share stories (oral, video, written, etc.)
o Explain that good storytelling can also be a performance:
§ POSSIBLE ACTIVITIES:
· ‘1 to 10 in Many Ways’
· ‘Walk the Walk’
· Practice telling a story (15 min)
o POSSIBLE ACTIVITY: ‘A Stranger in My Town’
Introduction to Interviewing
To understand why we conduct interviews and to practice interview techniques
Anthropology, Ethnography, Social Studies, Humanities, Interviewing, Communication, Journalism, Language Arts
GRADE LEVELS: 3-6
PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: None necessary; Introduction to Storytelling would be helpful
understanding communication, practicing conversation and interview, analysis of content and information, critical thinking
RESOURCES NEEDED: Link to video
· Introduction - What is an interview? (5 min)
o Ask students if any of them have ever been part of an interview. Have a discussion about what an interview is. Explain that an interview is when 2 or more people talk and share usually information – usually one person is asking questions and listening to the other one give answers.
· What does interviewing consist of? (10-20 min)
· Show video about interviewing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4pm_-GGyUw
o After watching the video, have the students think about some of these questions:
§ Why do we ask questions? So that people will share information.
§ How do we prepare for an interview? Research the person you are interviewing and the topic you want to discuss
§ How do we arrange the setting? Make sure there aren’t many distractions; make it comfortable for your interviewee
§ Why do we get permission before we interview someone? People’s stories are their property; people can be sensitive; we don’t want to offend others
§ How do we listen? Discuss good listening techniques – eye contact, show expressions that you are listening, body language, minimize distraction, don’t act robotic, let the conversation flow, use a loud, clear voice.
o How do we ask good questions for an interview?
§ Don’t ask yes/no questions.
§ Follow-up with questions that are related to the answers.
§ Make sure to ask relevant questions to the topic.
§ 5Ws: Who, what, where, when, why, (and how)
§ Go over some of the list of Interview Question Starter Examples
§ POSSIBLE ACTIVITIES:
· Question Brainstorming
· Choose the Best Questions
· Practice a sample interview (10 min)
o Host a sample interview between two adults in the classroom.
o Have the students analyze what went well and what didn’t go well in the interview.
· Class interview practice (10 min)
o Have the students break off into pairs or groups of three.
o Instruct the students to practice interviewing each other. If they are struggling to find topics to discuss give them some options such as:
§ Vacation/weekend plans
§ Your family
§ Favorite TV shows/movies/books