Help Students Make the Most of Interviews

“Interview an expert on this topic!”
“Interview a scientist in the field!”
“Interview a relative about this period in history!”


Asking our students to interview someone sounds like an engaging learning activity, right? For many students, though, this may be a daunting experience, and while they may enjoy the break from traditional modes of learning like reading, writing and classroom discussions, they may not actually learn that much.


Why? Because – similar to reading – listening to what we hear during an interview requires comprehension and the active construction of meaning.

If our students are not prepared to engage in this kind of deep listening, they may miss out on learning.

Setting Students Up to Succeed

So how do we prepare our students to benefit from the interview experience? In Scaffolding Learning, Scaffolding Language (2015), Gibbons writes, “Like reading, effective listening depends on the expectations and predictions about content, language, and genre that the listener brings to the text” (p. 184).

In other words, for our students to get the most out of an interview, we may need to teach them how to actively draw on three areas of knowledge:

✻ what they know about the topic
✻ what they know about the language used when talking about that topic
✻ what they know about the genre of “interviews”

In pursuit of exploring what this looks like, Elizabeth, a reading specialist, engaged a small group of fifth grade students in a project driven by the essential question, “What does it mean to ‘give back’?”

The group of students included two emergent bilinguals. One speaks Arabic at home and the other speaks Amharic. Both are at the expanding level on the WIDA standards for language proficiency.

Read more here

Posted by Dawn LoMauro
Dawn LoMauro Operations Manager/Exec Asst to the Assoc Provost Dawn LoMauro