My COVID-19 Experience
The PDF packet above includes lesson procedure, My COVID-19 Experience Form, and Creative Commons Release Agreement. This lesson is also available as a self-guided learning activity: Conducting Interviews.
American Folklife Center: Interviewing Tips
Oral History Association: Educator's Resource
Lesson Plan Text
Step 1: Developing Questions
In this lesson, students will reflect on their experience of the COVID-19 pandemic and interview three other people. Students can use the My COVID-19 Experience form or develop their own set of questions for reflecting and interviewing.
If students choose to develop their own set of questions, ask them to think about what future generations might want to know about living through the pandemic. Some topics to consider: Home, School, Friendship, Holidays, Food, Entertainment
Have students write six to eight open-ended questions. Open-ended questions leave more room for the narrator to reflect on and express their experiences.Open-ended questions may begin: why…? how…? what…? describe... explain... tell me about…
Step 2: ReflectingAsk students to fill out the My COVID-19 Experience form or respond to the questions they have developed (whichever they will be using for their interviews). Encourage students to get creative! In addition to describing their experiences in writing, they can add illustrations or create a short audio or video response.
Step 3: Interviewing
Have students choose three other people to interview. Encourage them to interview across generations (parents, grandparents, siblings and friends) to gain different perspectives.
Students should let each narrator know the purpose of their project and ask for their permission to be interviewed. If the student plans to contribute materials to a Maine Contemporary Archives project, make sure to fill out a Creative Commons Release Form for each interview.
Interviews can be conducted in-person, over the phone, or online. Students can take notes in writing or record audio or video using their smartphone, tablet, or computer. (See StoryCorps Connect for one way to record interviews online.)
Some tips for interviewing:
- Choose a quiet time/location and test out your recording equipment.
- Begin by identifying yourself, the narrator, the date, and location. Also identify the topic, and any special relationship you have with the narrator.
- Example: “This is an interview with [narrator’s name] about [topic]. The interview is taking place on [date] in [city, state]. The interviewer is [interviewer’s name].”
- Ask the narrator one question at a time, and state each question as directly as possible.
- Use follow-up questions to gather more specific information, such as: What did you mean by… Tell me more about… and Explain how you…
- Try not to interrupt the narrator. Pauses can be useful for reflection and recollection.
- Listen carefully to what your narrator is saying and use body language to show you are interested in what they have to say.
Have students present what they have learned from conducting their interviews to the class, comparing and contrasting the experiences they recorded. Did they find similarities in their narrators’ accounts of the pandemic? Differences? Did anything surprise them? How did their narrators’ experiences of the pandemic compare with their own?
Extension: Students can use their self-reflections and interviews to produce a podcast, comic, short video, or other creative project.
Invite students to upload their self-reflections, interviews, or creative projects to a Maine Contemporary Archives project to share with your community. (Use this list of participating libraries to find a project near you). Each project has its own Terms and Conditions; get in touch if you have any questions!