Interview/Feature Article: Introduction

This lesson plan was based on a Telelesson originally written by Evelyn C. McNeilly under a grant from the California State Department of Education.

You may use this lesson to help your students learn how to write their own interview articles for Newsday.


This lesson provides a model for developing feature articles from interviews for an electronic newsletter. Students learn how to lead into direct quotes from interviews and how to reflect on a subject through inductive reasoning. While this lesson adopts the theme "Hard Times" (taken from the book of that name by Studs Terkel) you can adapt the lesson to fit the theme of this Newsday.

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Audience/Target Population

High school students can accomplish this lesson in a week. It can be adapted for grades 5 - 8 by allowing more time for each step of the lesson.

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Learning Objectives

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Description of Lesson

This lesson, while geared toward high school students, can be modified for younger students by allowing more time for each step. The students will write feature articles on "hard times" for the electronic newsletter from interviews with adults about specific times in their lives that were difficult. (Note: you may adapt the topic to meet your own themes.) Each student will use direct quotes and add depth to his feature article with reflective statements on his experience conducting the interview and on hard times in general.

These objectives fit higher order thinking skills within language arts curriculum--inductive reasoning. In addition, students will develop social skills in the interview process, writing skills (how to lead into a quote), technical skills in word processing, punctuation, and in transferring files electronically.

Since everyone has experienced his own definition of hard times by age forty--economic, personal, professional--and wants to tell his story, it will be easy for students to interview adults and collect a wealth of data. It won't be quite so easy to shape the data into readable form. To lead into the lessons, students should read or hear selections from Stud Terkel's Hard Times, then cooperate with peers to develop pertinent, specific questions for the interviews, construct the articles, and print drafts for revision and editing before sending to Newsday.

The lesson itself leads directly into My Neighbor Rosicky by Willa Cather suitable for high school students.

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Background Information

The time allowed for this lesson should be at least one week, two days in class to read models and create pertinent interview questions, outside class time to conduct interviews, and three days at computers to write, revise and electronically upload. Younger students will need more time.

Students will need models to read and the writing prompts at the end of this file.

Since writing is idiosyncratic, the teacher could use an LCD screen or overhead transparencies to project one or more student's drafts from computer to large screen. The teacher could then demonstrate how to lead into direct quotes, how to paragraph for reader ease, what to delete to highlight inherent drama. If such a projector is unavailable, the teacher could pair the strongest writers with the weakest for peer tutoring.

Students will be given a writing prompt and a four point rubric for evaluation (grade). In read-around groups, students will choose the paper(s) they want to publish in the electronic newsletter. Students will deliver articles they wrote to people they interviewed.

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