Activity 2 — The Interview

Teacher's Notes

Unlike poets, playwrights and novelists, journalists and other nonfiction writers don't make up their stories. They get their information by doing research and by talking to people. For your next assignment, practice interviewing people and then use that information in a story.

Pick a question on any topic: What do you want to be when you grow up? What's your favorite breakfast? Who is the funniest person you know? It can be any question that comes to you.

Then ask 15 people that question. But don't settle for a one-word answer. Follow up their response by saying "Why?" We want to know why people feel the way they do. Write down their answers.

When you are finished, write an article using your research. The first paragraph (called a "lead") should just sum up the basics: "Nearly 90% of all fourth graders prefer muffins over cereal for breakfast, saying they want something that fills them up but without all that sugar in it."

Then, as you continue with the story you can get into more detail, first about the most important points and then the less significant material. So a sentence that says, "Of the 13 muffin eaters, 10 also said they don't really like cereal because they don't like milk" might come next followed by an explanation of their muffin tastes: "Seven preferred blueberry muffins, five liked corn muffins and one even said he liked bran muffins." You might then explain why those were their favorites. Finally, you would deal with the other two kids who weren't muffin eaters, talking about why they preferred cereal and what kinds.

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