Objectives

Conducting an interview is an important research skill, and a way to find out what another person thinks or believes. As a class, discuss some skills that are important for effective interviewing. Chart students’ responses and create a list of guidelines. These might include making eye contact, waiting through some silence, and, if your students do not yet write, thinking of strategies for remembering the interviewees’ responses. 

Standards

1.R.1. Generate questions and gather information from several sources in the classroom, school, or public library.

Resources

  • chart paper
  • individual notebooks or journals
  • small digital audio recording devices (optional)

Warm Up

  1. Come together as a class. Explain that you will be discussing skin color, race and beauty as they relate to the students’ personal values and the values of their families. (Note: This is a good time to build on definitions your class has encountered in previous lessons about race and stereotypes. Help students understand that when they talk to their families, they will likely hear a variety of definitions and perspectives on race—and that is fine. These different perspectives are part of what help us understand race as a social construct.) What is race? What is the value of skin color? What is beauty? Discuss these questions with the students. Help them understand the complexity of the questions and that there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Chart student responses and ask them how they think the themes of race, skin color and beauty relate to the idea of values.

New Material

Introduce Watkins First Grade Scholar Chant) Discuss how values or beliefs are things that we think are important and true. For instance, some people really value honesty. Others value kindness above all. In diverse groups or with partners, have students name one or two things they really value or believe in. They should talk about where they think these beliefs come from and why they are important.

Practice

  1. Explain that one important source of our values is our families. As a class, help students come up with a list of questions they could ask a family member about their values and beliefs as they relate to skin color, race and beauty. Chart a large list of student questions. Some possibilities to get students started might be, “When do you first remember noticing the color of your skin?” or “Why do you or don’t you think race is important to talk about?” Kids might also have more specific questions based on what they already know about their families, such as, “How did immigrating change the way you felt about your race?”
  2. Work in small groups to brainstorm a list of questions. Compare each groups question, whole group, and facilitate narrowing them down to four or five major questions.
  3. Once your class has created a final interview, type and photocopy individual versions of the questions for students to take home. (Note: As your class brainstorms questions, or later as they conduct and report on their interviews, some students might share information that devalues a group of people or that may imply that one racial group is better than another, e.g., the white race as superior. It is important to follow students’ leads in this conversation, acknowledging their personal and family values but helping them see the harm in generalizations, stereotypes and perceptions of groups as either superior or inferior. At the same time, it is also crucial to remain aware of the feelings of students who are or who have been targets of negative remarks, teasing or bullying related to skin color, race or any other aspect of identity. These students may not choose to speak up, but you can recognize their feelings by reminding the whole class how hurtful and devastating it is to be a target.)
  4. Using the questions you came up with as a class, allow students to practice interviewing skills with a partner. Encourage children to think about what they like and do not like about interviewing and being interviewed. Come together as a class to reflect on the experience.
  5. Have students take interview questions home and interview a family member using the questions you created. (Note: If your students are preliterate, you may want to send along instructions to the family member to read the questions aloud and jot down some responses. Even with older students, it would probably be helpful to send a letter home explaining the activity. Share with families the objectives of this series of lessons and explain what skills you are hoping they develop by conducting these interviews. Keep communication open between yourself and the families, just in case some family members may want to talk more in depth about the purpose of the lesson. If you have multiple home languages represented in your class, provide translations of the letter as well.) 

Assessment

Come together as a class to share and analyze the main points students learned from their interviews and their partners’ interviews. Ask them if they think interviewing is a helpful tool for figuring out values and beliefs. How are their families’ beliefs and values similar to students’ own beliefs and values? Are they different in any way? What did students learn about race, skin color, beauty and themselves from doing this activity? Discuss these questions with your class.HE BIRMINGHAM PLEDGE

Closure and Reflection

List the students' common values & beliefs based on their completed interviews according to their response frequency.