Friday, February 6, 2015

Job Interview

My students are about to embark on a project where they will work with a partner to create a piece of fiction written in the form of letters exchanged. How to pair them most effectively? Such questions are the authentic stuff of education.

For my part, I want students to feel they have had some choice, but I don't want them to set themselves up for unnecessary difficulty or even failure, so I have devised an activity called "Job Interview." The kids think about what they want in an ideal work partner and generate a list of questions. Then, they conduct interviews of their classmates to see who might best fill the position.

It's always amazing to see how seriously sixth graders take this activity. Their questions are probing and their responses are earnest and quite thoughtful.

How are you as a writer?

My handwriting is really neat.

But what about, you know, the ideas?

I have a good imagination, too.

Okay, good!

Do you have any ideas about this project?

Yes! I know what I want to write about!

Will you compromise if somebody has a different idea?

[Long pause...] I will listen to anything.

In the end, they submit a proposal ranking their choices to me, the CEO of our operation, and, so informed, I assign the teams.

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