Engaging in Conversation

With our current situation in the US, I wanted to design a lesson to create a reason for students to talk to an older adult. I know many people are struggling with being isolated and I have heard that phone calls can help our most vulnerable population feel connected. Heck, I think everyone could benefit from a genuine conversation these days! So, with this in mind, I gave my earth science students a task to call someone. We are learning about earthquakes and volcanoes right now, so they have been given the following assignment. Please feel free to use any or all of this, or even just the idea. Let’s get our students talking to their grandparents and other adults that need to connect! I would love to hear from you, too!

Interview a Witness Assignment

Interview a person (i.e. grandparent, great auntie, family friend) that witnessed a volcanic eruption or major earthquake. Ideally, you know someone that survived and remembers the Mt. St. Helens eruption. However, if you cannot find anyone that lived through that experience, then talk to someone that witnessed and remembers another significant volcanic eruption or major earthquake.

Record the interview, if possible, using video or just audio recording. If you can’t do that, then write out the questions you ask and the responses. The recording (either video, audio, or paper) will serve as your record of this conversation and is important! Make sure your interviewee knows you are recording the conversation to share it with your teacher and classmates.

Though you do not need to follow this script exactly, these questions will help guide your conversation. Be sure to indicate what event (Mt. St. Helens eruption, major earthquake, other volcanic eruption, etc.) you are talking about at the beginning of your conversation.

  • What do you remember about the event?
  • Where were you living?
  •  Did you have time to prepare for the eruption/earthquake/event? How did you prepare?
  • How did you know it happened? How did you feel when it happened?
  • How did you feel afterward? Did anything change in your daily life?
  • Do you still think about those days?
  • What life lessons did you learn from living through that event?

At the end, be sure to thank your witnesses for taking the time to share their stories with you.

In my class, the students will post their interviews to our class page for other students to watch, listen to, or read. Sharing these experiences feels valuable to me 🙂

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