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Interviewing Famous Leaders in History
Students research a famous leader and then assume the role of interviewer and responder as they compose a question-and-answer interview with that leader.
This "interview" lesson can be used to teach about great leaders of any place or time period. It can be easily adapted to teach about the presidents of the United States, the emperors of Europe, the kings of England, the pharaohs of Egypt
This lesson is an alternative approach to a traditional research paper. It encourages students to digest material and not simply to parrot back what they read.
leaders, interview, presidents, emperors, kings, Roman history, history, biography
Decide in advance whether students will work on this project independently or in pairs. Compose a list of leaders (for example, presidents or emperors or monarchs -- depending on the era of history your students are studying) and distribute it to students. Students select the individual they would most like to learn more about.
If students know little about any of the leaders, you might include next to each leader's name a little teaser that gives some interesting tidbit of information.
You might give the list to students one day and have them take it home overnight. Ask them to choose three or four leaders in whom they are interested and to be prepared to explain why they selected each of those leaders. (If multiple students choose a leader, you might use their justifications to help determine who will be assigned that leader. The student with the best reason(s) will earn the assignment.)
Give students additional directions such as: "Compose a preliminary list of questions to ask your leader. You must have a minimum of 10 questions. Interviews with more questions of high quality will earn a better grade."
You might also stipulate that question topics include at least one question about
Students will use available resources (books, Internet sites, and other sources) to research/learn about the leader. Then they will put themselves in the shoes of an interviewer who lived at the same time as the leader; they will compose historically accurate questions and answers to those questions. They should include questions that will lead to sharing of information they found personally interesting as they researched the life and times of the leader.
Recommended: Require students to include a reference to the sources used for each answer; or to include a full and correctly formatted reference list with their interview.
Students should include with their interviews a portrait of the leader
A fun technology integration activity would be to take digital pictures of the students posed to appear as if they are interacting with the image they collected of the leader; then use a photoshop program to superimpose the image of the student on the image of the leader.
As a culminating activity, students will share their interviews with their classmates. They might do this by reading them aloud with a partner (the partner can be the interviewer and the student can pose as the famous leader). This final activity might even include practice/rehearsal and costumes.
Students demonstrate their knowledge of the leader they researched through additional activities. They might, for example,
Class discussion questions might include
Lisa Auanger, Kecoughtan High School in Hampton, Virginia