In the Classroom: Inside Outside Book Interviews

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This year my students are up and moving around, mind mapping and blogging on a very regular basis. We are doing Kelly Gallagher’s Reading Minute daily, collecting vocabulary words and using Corbett Harrison’s vocabulary boxes and Writers’ Notebook activities, while reading whole class novels via small book club discussion groups. Yes, we’ve been busy!

After a long week of working hard, I tried something new on Friday afternoon that was pretty successful: Inside Outside Book Interviews. These book interviews are based off of something I saw on Twitter awhile ago, but regrettably, I do not remember the source. While this activity isn’t flashy and is very low tech, students and I had a great time – it was loud, fun, and there was lots of movement. I’ve listed the activity’s steps below, and what modifications we will make next time. I hope that you’ll try it out in your classroom and let me know how it goes!

Inside Outside Book Interviews

  • Before starting, have students create interview questions of their choice that center around classmates’ independent reading books. (We started with 5 questions) They will take these questions and their own book to the interviews. Because students had never done this before, a lot of their questions were things like “What genre is your book?” or “Do you like it so far?”.
  • Divide the class in half. One group will be in the inner circle facing out, and the other half in the outer circle facing inward. Students in the inner circle have their books, while the students in the outer circle have their questions.
  • Explain that the outer students will be interviewing the inner students who are holding their books up during the interviews. After an agreed upon time (5 minutes) students will rotate to their next interview.
  • About half way through the allotted time you have for this activity, stop the interviews and have the class assess how things are going. When asked, my students said they were having fun, getting lots of book recommendations, but that a lot of the interview questions required one word answers, so their interviews were not taking very long. When I asked how we could make this activity better, students said that opened ended questions were a must and that having some back up questions were a good idea too. At this time I had the inner and outer circle switch places and start the process all over again. This time around students were asking more in depth questions and talking the entire five minutes.
  • At the end of the activity I congratulated all of them for doing their first round of interviews and asked for students to recognize peers that had challenging questions and/or insightful answers. This was great because the students recognized were not the ones that usually raise their hands in class. Love it when that happens!

I’ll definitely be doing these interviews again – probably once a quarter. As they evolve, we’ll work on perfecting our interview questions and how to answer without giving too much away. I’m always trying to make activities like this more fun and rewarding, so if you try these out and modify it in any way, please let me know!

Lesley ♥

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