Columbia Links

LESSON PLAN6

This lesson was developed by Sue Laue, program manager, Columbia Links, Columbia College Chicago.

Overview and Purpose
Interviewing sources to produce a news or feature story involves using many different skills in addition to writing.  First, the reporter must determine who the viable sources are that would add something of value in terms of their perspective or information to the story.  Varied viewpoints must be represented in a story to assure its fairness, so the reporter must discern how to reflect diversity to enhance the story.  A keen appreciation of diversity and cultural difference is a must.

To perform a thorough interview with a source, a reporter must employ good questioning and listening skills.  He or she must be able to communicate at an interpersonal level to gain the respect and trust of the source.  Often a source is entrusting personally valued and sometimes never before revealed information and ideas, so the reporter must convey a social and emotional maturity that the information will be presented factually, accurately and in a fair manner.  Courtesy and respect are also requisite, but especially when dealing with an individual’s personal life.

Common Core Curriculum Standards - www.isbe.net
To help young reporters develop these skills, Links has developed this lesson plan and activities based largely on the social and emotional learning skills embodied in the IL State Board of Education’s Social and Emotional Learning Goals and Standards, Grades 9-12.  This lesson also applies the State Common Core Standards for English Language Arts for this age level.

Teachers are aligning their teaching and curriculum with these new federal and state learning performance standards to produce a common achievement outcome for all students. Scroll down to bottom of lesson plan for a list of individual standards and their relevance to this lesson.

Materials/Sources for Teaching the Lesson
American Society of Newspaper Editors, Journalism Lesson Plans Archive, www.schooljournalism.org.

IL State Board of Education (ISBE), Social and Emotional Learning Standards, www.isbe.net.

The Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning, CASEL, Chicago, IL, www.casel.org.

Learning Links for the Classroom
In this section of the lesson plan are classroom teaching options, interviewing, listening, questioning, discussion and question/answer prompts, journaling and reflection assignments for assessment and evaluation of student learning and knowledge.

Definition of A Journalism Source
A source for a journalism news or feature article is someone who has an authoritative position in regard to the subject of a story.  A source might be a public employee who has vital data about the subject, or it could be a private citizen who is advocating for a particular course of  action  to bring about societal change.  Often, a well-rounded story needs both kinds of sources as well as a source with an opposing view to project fairness and inclusiveness for all opinions and ideas.

In addition, a source could be a person who has a personal, first-hand experience that would create reader interest, especially for a feature story.   Thus, a reporter has a high calling to hold and reflect the experiences, ideas and passions of others, and a responsibility to provide any objective source material that could be important to the story’s full import.  So interpersonal skills of the highest order, especially listening and analytical skills, to ask the most incisive and yet respectful questions are mandatory.

Teach 1
Discussion – Blending Journalistic Interviewing and Social-Emotional Skills

Review with students the key interviewing methods, such as generating open-ended  questions and dealing with controversy,  in the link above from www.schooljournalism.org, the high school learning initiative of the American Society of  News Editors (ASNE).  Then review the Illinois social and emotional learning (SEL) skills goals in the link above fromt www.isbe.net, IL State Board of Education.  Ask students how realizing each SEL goal in their lives is important to conducting a good and productive interview with a source.  This lesson may be best broken into three parts for separate class sessions to fully explore each Goal.  Note:  At www.isbe.net, there are SEL standards and performance descriptors for lesson expansion.

SEL Goal 1 and Journalism – Develop self-awareness and self-management skills to achieve school and life success.
What does this mean?  Knowing one’s emotions, how to manage them and ways to express them constructively enables one to handle stress, control impulses and motivate oneself to persevere in overcoming obstacles to goal achievement.

In reporting a story, this means that a reporter will be able to control emotions to be objective, no matter what his or her personal opinions and passions may be.  Select a sensitive subject, such as date rape or child abuse and ask if students could remain impassionate while reporting the story.

SEL Goal 2and Journalism – Use social-awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships.
Why is this goal important?  Building and maintaining positive relationships with others are central to success in school and life and require the ability to recognize the thoughts, feelings and perspectives of others, including those different from one’s own.  In addition, establishing positive peer, family and work relationships requires skills in cooperating, communicating respectfully and constructively resolving conflicts with others.

In reporting a story, all of these skills are at play in respectfully questioning and interviewing an individual who may be revealing sensitive personal or cultural information and in reporting fairly, especially a controversial issue.  Ask students how they would be respectful of a gay individual while telling the story of his or her coming out.

SEL Goal 3 and Journalism – Demonstrate decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school and community contexts.
What does this mean?  This goal relates to developing one’s own values and ethics, avoiding risky behaviors, dealing honestly and fairly with others, and contributing to the good of one’s classroom, school, family, community and environment to become a citizen of a democracy.  Achieving these outcomes requires an ability to make decisions and solve problems by generating alternative solutions, anticipating the consequences of each and evaluating and learning from one’s choices.

In reporting a story, positive ethics and values and a sense of fairness and truthfulness are essential.  As a reporter, one becomes a part of the “fourth estate” in our democracy.  Ask students if they know what the fourth estate is.  Journalism and reporting is seen in our society as the fourth branch of government in addition to the administrative, legislative and judicial branches.  Journalists in a free society have been entrusted with the job of monitoring government and reporting truthfully to the public in a timely and accurate, objective fashion.  Reporting provides a necessary check and balance on government power.

Teach 2
Interviewing, Questioning and Listening with Empathy
Conducting a good interview requires some planning.  First, decide on a clear goal or news peg for the story.  What are you trying to convey to the reader?  Determine who the audience will be in order to ask questions that will elicit what they need to know.  Develop a set of questions for the interview which are open-ended (not easy to answer with a single word).

But also assure that the questions are specific enough to extract all the information needed to write a complete story.  Set up the interview with the source by phone ahead of time.  Let them know the purpose of the interview.  When asking questions, use good listening skills by making eye contact and repeating back the essence of the answers to assure accuracy and understanding.  Double-check all data with the source (fact checking).

Activity
Ask students to identify a partner who they do not know well.  They will do a personal profile interview with each other.  Ask students to prepare questions that will bring out the interviewee’s most passionate interest and plans for his/her future and any keys to this person’s interests that may lie in their past.  Give students 10 minutes to interview their source.  Get the facts, but also listen and watch for feelings and emotions that convey who this person is.

Reflection
Afterward the interview, ask students to explain what  specific interviewing and social and emotional skills they used to plan and conduct the interview.  Have each student briefly tell what they learned about their source.  They should try to convey not just facts, but reflect empathy and insight about the individual’s passion.  Ask them to reflect on whether they maintained a respectful relationship with the source after the interview.  Their source can weigh in on this as well.

Assessment
Now that students understand the skills needed to interview a source, assign them to write a story about an issue in their lives or a news item.  Ask them to prepare a list sources for the interview, a list of questions and a list of the skills needed to interview the source.  After the interview, ask them to write an eight paragraph story that is objective, unbiased, accurate, timely and fairly reflects all sides of the issue.

Again, ask them to reflect on whether they maintained a respectful relationship with the source after the interview.

Common Core Curriculum Standards - www.isbe.net
Links Lesson Plan 6, News Literacy:  Interviewing Sources
This lesson applies and reinforces the following selected Common Core Curriculum Standards for Social and Emotional Learning and English Language Arts, Grades 9-12.  Teachers are aligning their teaching and curriculum with these new federal and state performance standards to produce a common achievement outcome for all students.  To find other common core standards that may apply to this lesson, visit www.isbe.net or www.corestandards.org.

Social and Emotional Learning Standards
High School
Goal 1:  Develop self-awareness and self-management skills to achieve school and life success.

Standard A. Identify and manage one’s emotions and behavior.

1A.5a. Evaluate how expressing one’s emotions in different situations affects others.

 

Goal 2 – Use social-awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships.
Standard A.  Recognize the feelings and perspectives of others.

2A.1b. Use listening skills to identify the feelings and perspectives of others.

2A.4b. Use conversation skills to understand others’ feelings and perspectives.

Goal 3 – Demonstrate decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school and community contexts.
Standard A. Consider ethical, safety and societal factors in making decisions.

3A.2a Demonstrate the ability to respect the rights of self and others.

3A.5b. Examine how the norms of different societies and cultures influence their members’ decisions and behaviors.

 

For additional Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons that relate to journalism, visit www.lions-quest.org.  Lions Clubs International, Oak Brook, IL, has developed a set of lesson plans to teach social and emotional learning skills to teens, including listening, interviewing, questioning, communicating, researching, ethics and decision-making.

Grades 9-10
English Language Arts
Speaking and Listening-Comprehension and Collaboration
1.d. Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.

2. Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g. visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.

3. Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.

 

Speaking and Listening – Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
5. Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning and evidence, and to add interest.

Grades 11-12
English Language Arts
Speaking and Listening-Comprehension and Collaboration
1.d. Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task.

2. Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g. visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.

3. Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis and tone used.

Speaking and Listening – Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
5. Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning and evidence, and to add interest.

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