Special Person’s Interview, made popular by Bryce Hedstrom, is one of my favorite activities to do with students. I usually implement this CI rich, get-to-know you strategy at the beginning of the year while building community; then I recycle it throughout many units where students’ lives and interests can further unfold. The purpose of this activity is to get to know other people, their interests, passions etc. Usually, I am at the helm of the conversation, asking all the questions; however, last week, tables were slightly turned. I did a guest author appearance to Sra. Hendrix’s Spanish class. I was their ” persona especial virtual. This post sums up my experience being the “persona especial” as well as offer ideas about how YOU can use an activity like this to liven up virtual classes, provide critical input, and give your students a unique experience.
I Love When Events Unfold Organically
I had the pleasure of crashing Ms. Hendrix’s upper-level Spanish class and being interviewed by her amazing and well-prepared students! Best of all, neither one of us had actually planned this!
One week prior to our interview, she had posted puppets of characters in the level 1 school crush- gone- awry novel “La clase de confesiones.” I was as intrigued by the lesson as I was impressed with her artistic skills and creativity. She was doing a virtual puppet show for students! She had used the paper puppets to review the novel, and I couldn’t think of a better way to engage students.
I commented on her FB post and shared it with my followers as this was a great activity that teachers could do with any novel, at any level. However, our message exchange did not stop there. The next day, I received a second message from Sra. Hendrix about another book of mine that her students had enjoyed. At this point, I was like, “I have to meet these students!” With permission from her students, she sent me the pictures below of them reading and drawing out different scenes from the level 3 thriller “El escape.”
Well, as most of you know “El escape” is one of my favorite novels as it explores the dangers of social media and technology among teens. Since she raved about her students’ excitement for reading the novel, I offered to drop by before my class; she gladly extended the invitation.
In just a few days, her students were able to compose questions about the novel, the nature of writing, my long term goals, and professions; and their questions were deep! They asked me about my inspiration for my novels and I, of course, spilled the beans! I told them about my crazy teachers and classmates from middle school who were reincarnated as characters in the book, mixed in with my experience as a teacher. I really appreciated the time that Sra. Hendrix took to coach them on questions. They were organized, direct, and I was such a great experience for me to see students so passionate about learning another language, and so respectful of my work. I also want to give a shoutout to Sra. Hendrix and her approach to the interview. If any teacher is interested in having a guest speaker, the items below can help you organize it so that it’s worthwhile for all participants.
1. There was a class ambassador. She introduced herself and the class and gave me an overview of what they were going to ask.
2. Each student had a prepared question, and each of those questions were well-crafted (there was also a document with questions so I could look at that as well).
3. They asked a wide range of questions. I thought they were only going to ask about the book, but they actually inquired about my lifelong goals and where I saw myself in the next 5 years. That was profound! I love how they connected this interview to what they were currently learning.
Overall, I had a great time connecting with Ms. Hendrix, an awesome educator on the East Coast and her students. Her love for teaching and great relationships with students was extremely palpable and I had a great time!
You can hear the interview here if you like, these kids were amazing!
More about “La clase de confesiones”
See animated book Trailer here
Carlos hates Spanish class with a passion but finds the will to survive when he lays eyes on Jessica. She is the reason he “tolerates” his boring class. However, his secret crush is compromised when his teacher decides to “shake things up a bit” in class. A simple writing assignment turns out to be a lethal injection to his social life and by extension his chances with Jessica. First, his nosy teacher tries to “set him up with Jessica,” this plan immediately backfires. Then, the unthinkable happens and Carlos is stunned. This turns into one of the most embarrassing moments in his life. But all is not lost. If Carlos plays his cards right, he could have a winning hand. Carlos invites you to come along on this adventure into “La clase de confesiones” where…”todos tienen una confesión,” even the teacher!
More about “El escape”
Can an obsession with technology, turn deadly? Well, these techy teens are about to find out. Federico and his friends have an insatiable desire to “capture” and “record” every memorable moment. However, not all memories are created equal, and these boys are about to discover this harsh reality. Against the advice of a town elder, these thrill-seeking “know-it-all” teenagers set out to film their usual pranks and upload them to Youtube…and they won’t get the last laugh. They stumble upon an incident that has the hashtag #danger, written all over it. Anxious to add to their video repertoire, they press record. Now they’ve become the ”victims” of a new crime thriller. There is no turning back. Federico and his friends must outsmart the bad guys, get “deleted” forever.