In this featured lesson plan, Writers Express author and former elementary teacher Ruth Nathan shares a fun way to wrap up a biographical writing unit.
Putting Biographical Knowledge to Work:
“Dates with the Greats” Interview Party
After your students write reports about important people, give them another opportunity to put their knowledge to work! Explain that your class is going to have a “Dates with the Greats” interview party. During this party, students will play the roles of the special people they have written about and will answer interview questions.
Prepare the Party
Ask students to review their biographical writing, individually or with a friend, and jot down questions visitors might ask about their characters. (These questions are simply to have on hand in case the interviewers have trouble asking questions.)
Then have each student draw the person he or she will represent during the interview. Students will attach their paper characters to long sticks and hold them during their interviews.
Begin the Party
Now it’s time for the fun to start!
- Have students take their paper characters and interview questions and spread out through the classroom. (Make sure there’s enough space for other children to walk freely among your students.)
- Invite students from another classroom into your room.
- Ask each visitor to find a character to interview.
- Instruct the interviewees to introduce themselves as their characters—“Hello, my name is ____, what’s yours?”—while simultaneously shaking hands with the visitors.
- Invite the visiting children to ask questions about the characters.
- Encourage your students to answer the questions as best they can. They can also suggest questions from their prepared lists. (“Would you like to know how I became fascinated with soccer when I was a toddler?”)
- After about 3–4 minutes, ring a bell and ask your visitors to choose new characters to interview. (Make sure every student gets interviewed.)
Reflect on the Party
End the activity after several encounters between all the children. Then consider inviting the participants to stay for snacks and refreshments.
Afterward, say good-bye, close the door, and ask your students to discuss what they learned during the interview process: What did they like best about being interviewed? What was most difficult about it? What interesting or funny things happened during their interviews?