3 — Questions and finding the angle in a story
In this sequence, the students will focus on developing rich and open questions for their subjects. They will also do some forward planning for Assessment task 2.
Activity 1: Open and closed questions
In pairs, students should try out open and closed questions on each other. For example:
- How old are you?
- What do you most enjoy about being your current age?
- Do you think you’ll be driving by the time you leave school?
- Have you any pets?
- What do you think are the advantages of going away on family holidays?
Discuss the kinds of questions most likely to elicit the richest answers.
Consider Demander 24/7 Roller Derby Queen and determine some open questions considered by Amanda to create her story, such as:
- Why did I join my roller derby team?
- What physical demands are made on me?
- What are some of the best things to come out of it for me?
Activity 2: Developing a line of inquiry
A short life story does not attempt to tell everything about a person. The students’ stories will be short, so they must find an angle (the point or theme of a story) or interesting dimension to a life, and focus on that.
The students will view a news segment ‘Pets help to heal wounds of Fukushima’ about Turo Oki, who rescued stray, ill dogs after Japan’s 2011 tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear incident that followed it. Oki’s goal is to alleviate post-tsunami suffering through the use of these dogs, which he is training as therapy dogs. Before viewing the news segment, students will consider possible angles for the story, learn the difference between closed and open questions and explore the value of preparing open questions for an interview.
What aspect of Turo Oki’s personality or life most interests the students as a potential angle for a life story? For example:
- his capacity for optimism and generosity in a time of hardship
- whether he rescued pets as a child, or has experienced pets offering comfort
- what he has learnt about himself and others after surviving such a dramatic and traumatic event?
Ask the students to create the outline for a short life story of Turo Oki. In small groups, challenge the students to:
- compose and model their greeting at the commencement of the interview
- share four open questions they might use to gather the best possible information
- model how they would bring the interview to a close, and thank Mr Oki.
Further to this, the students should:
- consider three photographs they might ask for or create to support Mr Oki’s life story
- find a piece of music using the Creative Commons Music of Japan category that might serve as a soundscape (music or other sound for atmosphere) for such a life story.
Activity 3: Preparing for Assessment task 2
Ask the students to start thinking about their subject (the person at the centre of the life story) for Assessment task 2. This may be an opportunity for them to interact with other members of the school community. For those who find organisation or multitasking particularly challenging, this may be a beneficial option.
Always ensure that you have written consent to obtain and use any person’s image. Try a search for relevant images using Creative Commons.