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Lesson Plans

Student Work




Collect Your Own Weather Stories:

Some of the lessons on this website suggest having students make a project of collecting weather stories, proverbs and sayings. This can be a very fun activity for kids, as well as for the person being interviewed. If you want your students to collect more weather stories from their family, friends and community, here are some tips to get started.

Collecting stories is also known as fieldwork. Doing fieldwork means going into a community and talking to people about their experiences. There is usually one interviewer, and one interviewee, also known as the informant. You or your students can interview family, friends or neighbors. It's often easiest to interview people that you know well, because you have more knowledge of their lives and experiences. However, sometimes its helpful to interview people you may not know as well because they have a lot of knowledge on the subject you're interested in.

When you or your students are interviewing someone (or a group of people), it is best to tape record the interview. That way you can concentrate on what the interviewee is saying, instead of having to concentrate on taking notes. Better quality tape recorders will make better quality recordings. You can also use a video camera, and some digital cameras have audio recording capabilities. Test your equipment before you go to an interview. Make sure you have enough batteries, and don't forget a power cord. It's important to label and date your tape; it's easier to forget than you might think.

When you set up an interview, make sure to ask permission of your subject to tape the interview. If you plan on sending us your tape or donating it to an archive, you should get written permission to use the tape from the interviewee. You can find sample permission forms here (Word Document).

It's good to have a list of questions on hand for your interview, but don't get too hung up on the list. It's best to follow the movement of the conversation; follow up questions are good. When the interviewer mentions someone—their mother, a friend, their spouse, etc, make a note to ask them their name, how to spell it, where they are from, and when they were born. If other questions occur to you while the interviewee is speaking, make a note to ask them later at a break in the conversation. Don't interrupt a good story.

After your interview, make sure to thank your interviewee. It never hurts to send a thank you card, especially if someone has made time for you during a busy day. Once you have your interview tape, you should listen to it again and make notes. You don't have to transcribe the entire tape, but it's good to jot down notes (and the counter numbers) about what stories or topics were discussed. It will make it easier to use the tape later.

Your fieldwork will improve with practice; the more you talk to people, the easier it will get, and the more fun you will have. It may help to bring a guest into your classroom and interview them in front of your students. It will help them learn how to conduct an interview, and give them ideas for questions to ask to techniques to try.

Click here for a power point lesson in beginning fieldwork.

Click here for a sample transcription of an interview.


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