Travels with Charley - Interviewing Characters

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Download "Interviewing Characters" as a Word file

Discipline

Language Arts, History, Performing Arts

Grade Level

6 – 12

Type of Activity

Small Group, Individual, Ongoing, Writing, Oral Presentation

Objectives

  • Through the mock interviewing of characters from Travels with Charley, students will gain a deeper understanding of the characters’ personalities and motivations.
  • By writing a collaborative interview, students will be able to understand, identify, and apply plot elements and characterization techniques from the book.
  • Students will be able to identify, through a quiz or short paper, basic characteristics of the characters in Travels with Charley.
  • Students will hone their oral presentation/drama skills.
  • Students may use multimedia alternatives for presentations.

Overview

A great way for students to get to know the characters in Travels with Charley is for them to actually inhabit the personalities of those characters. This can be done at any point in the book, and in many ways, with time for preparation, either alone or in small groups.

Additionally, students who perform the interviewing duties also gain a deeper appreciation of the complexities of the characters.

Materials Needed/Preparation

  • Students need to meet in their interviewing groups and decide who will be the interviewer and which characters will be interviewed. Depending on the sophistication of the class, teachers will monitor as necessary.
  • To avoid having one or two students dominating the presentation, teachers should make sure that interviewers will ask each interviewee a similar number of questions and in contiguous order.
  • Video camera (if available) to film the interviews.
  • PowerPoint (if available).

Estimated Time

2 class periods—one to meet and write the interview script and one to perform it.

Procedures

NOTE: To avoid having one or two students dominating the presentation, teachers should make sure that interviewers will ask each interviewee a similar number of questions and in contiguous order.

Teachers should instruct students to prepare for interviews in the following ways (they can always come up with other ideas):

  • Talk show format—one student can serve as a talk-show host (ala Ellen, Oprah, Letterman, Leno, etc.) and ask questions of each of the guest characters. Students, who are playing characters, should respond thoroughly to reveal as much as the class knows about the character(s) at any given point.
  • Television news program—breaking news about a character (for example, “Cheerleaders” protest outside elementary school; Nikita Khrushchev speaks at the U.N.; A new study follows migrant farm workers from Canada).
  • “Surprise” interview format – interview a character from the book and reveal to that person that he or she has just met John Steinbeck and didn’t know it!
  • Where are they now? Format – The interviewer “tracks down” people Steinbeck met on his travels and asks them for their perspective (e.g. interview the Cheerleaders today to see what they think of their actions then and how they feel now; interview the young man who wanted to be a hair dress, see how his life turned out.)
  • Interview Charley

Post Activity/Takeaways/Follow-up

  • Post Activity
    • Have students write their brief reactions (evaluations) to each interview session and share with the class.
    • Have students hold a post-interview “press conference” and ask questions of the interviewers/characters.
    • Consider the Oral History lesson plan as an extension of the interviewing process.
  • Takeaways
    • The main purpose of this activity is for students to gain a deeper understanding of the characters.
  • Follow-up
    • Teachers can have students write an evaluation of the project and what they have learned.

Assessment

  • During the group preparation, teachers should monitor the groups to ensure they are on task and be available to offer suggestions.
  • Teachers can test students on what new insights they have learned about the characters in Travels with Charley.

Standards Met

California State Content Standards Met

  • Performing Arts: Theatre Content Standards 6-12
    • Artistic Perception: 1
    • Creative Expression: 2
    • Historical and Cultural Context: 3
    • Connections, Relationships, Applications: 5

Common Core State Standards Met

  • Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 1,2,3
    • Craft and Structure: 4,5
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10
  • Writing Standards 6-12
    • Text Types and Purposes: 1,3
    • Production and Distribution of Writing: 4,5,6
    • Research to Build and Present Knowledge: 7
    • Range of Writing: 10
  • Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
    • Comprehension and Collaboration: 1,2
  • Language Standards 6-12
    • Conventions of Standard English: 1,2
    • Knowledge of Language: 3
    • Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: 4,5,6
  • Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 1
    • Craft and Structure: 4,5
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 8
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10
  • Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6-12
    • Text Types and Purposes: 1,2
    • Production and Distribution of Writing: 4,5,6
    • Research to Build and Present Knowledge: 7
    • Range of Writing: 10