Unit Overview: Students will build upon their literacy skills by analyzing underreported stories. They will conduct interviews with children around the world of similar ages about their experiences during the pandemic. Students will then make connections between their communities and their interviews subjects' communities.
Resources for Facilitating this unit:
- Complete five-day unit plan, including warm-ups, teaching resources, discussion questions, activities, and performance tasks for the unit.
- Curated reporting for students in grades 5 and up
- Materials for virtual instruction: Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, Flipgrid, webcam, news articles, Google Docs, Google Slides
Students prepare and conduct interviews with students from classrooms in other parts of the world about their experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students create presentations that communicate key details and reflections from the interviews they conducted with students from other countries/cities to make connections between communities and share underreported stories.
Educator Notes: Instructor reflections and standards
This unit was created by Olivia StandingBear, a fifth grade teacher in Tulsa, OK, as part of the fall 2020 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program on Media, Misinformation, and the Pandemic. It is designed for facilitation across approximately five 50–60 minute live, virtual class periods.
For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.
Students will be able to...
- Day 1
- Learn the definition of an underreported story.
- Ask and answer questions about news stories to seek help, get information, to clarify, or to confirm understanding.
- Day 2
- Report on a news story they read.
- Analyze themes and tools that a journalist uses to tell a story.
- Evaluate what questions journalists must ask when reporting news stories.
- Create interview questions for a stranger about COVID-19.
- Day 3
- Conduct an interview with someone about their experiences with COVID-19
- Actively listen to others' perspectives.
- Speak clearly using appropriate discussion rules with awareness of verbal and nonverbal cues.
- Ask questions during the interview that relate to what the subject is saying.
- Write down crucial notes from the interview.
- Reflect upon the interview.
- Day 4
- Evaluate what details they want to share from their interview with a public audience
- Prepare a visual or audio presentation that communicates details from their interviews, and students' reflections on what they learned from conducting interviews
- Engage in collaborative discussions with other students.
- Day 5
- Give formal and informal presentations in a group or individually, organizing information and determining appropriate content for audience.
Children have to be okay. They have to feel safe before they can learn. What does that look like during the pandemic? What is unsafe about their home and online learning? How might their experiences connect to the experiences of other children from different parts of the world?
Through journaling about their experiences with COVID-19, evaluating underreported news stories about the pandemic, and conducting interviews with children around the world of similar ages about their experiences during the pandemic, students will be able to connect, process, deal, and heal. They will build upon their literacy skills by understanding underreported stories. They will make connections with their own communities and with their interview subjects' communities. Students and their interview subjects will also benefit from sharing their stories.
Information and skills learned will focus on English language arts standards and objectives but the main goal will be for it to be a school-wide social-emotional project.
Important: Students must have a safe and free space to express themselves. Remember to: Highlight/pay attention to what the students are doing right, at least once per session. Show that you are paying attention and that you care. Think about: Misinformation based on geography, rumors and how they spread.
Resources for Facilitating this Unit:
Click here for a PDF outlining lesson plans for this unit, including warm-ups, resources, discussion questions, activities, and performance tasks for the unit.
Materials for virtual instruction: Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, Flipgrid, webcam, news articles (linked in PDF), Google Docs, Google Slides
This unit concludes with two performance tasks:
- Students prepare and conduct interviews with students from classrooms in other parts of the world about their experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Click here for a video that shares highlights from interviews conducted by 5th grade students from Tulsa, OK in fall 2019.
- Students create presentations that communicate key details and reflections from the interviews they conducted with students from other countries/cities to make connections between communities and share underreported stories. View examples below of reports by students from Tulsa, OK in fall 2020:
- Divija interviews: England (Click here to review Divija's interview questions)
- Divija interviews: Spain
- Emily interviews: England & Texas
- Evelyn interviews: Spain
- Isabel interviews: Japan & Myanmar
- Myanmar Interview Answers
- Justin interviews: Italy
- Kaylin interviews: New Zealand
- Luca interviews: Cameroon, Japan, & Turkey
- Max interviews: Turkey
- Muriel interviews: Columbia
Here are examples from two students who created original platforms for their reflections:
Assessment and Evaluation
1. Students receive this rubric at the start of the project to understand how their work will be evaluated. This rubric will then be used to evalaute their final projects.
2. At the conclusion of the unit, students share their reflections and connections as part of a closing survey.
Some teachers who wanted to participate but could not at the time of interviews, are working with us on other projects. For example, we are going to do an online gallery with a class in Mexico City. Students will get the opportunity to express their feelings about quarantine. Students will upload images and videos explaining their work.
An ESL language class at a university in Istanbul, Turkey, wants to interview my students as a speaking and listening exercise. Later, they will write reports, practicing their English skills.
This activity would take less time in the classroom. We had to meet virtually and it was a little time consuming to schedule one-on-one’s with the students to work on their writing and to reach out to families to make sure students would be present at the meeting. It was all worth it though and going into this project, I thought it would be a way for students to understand our current situation in quarantine by speaking with other students around the world, realizing that we are experiencing similar feelings. Not only was this accomplished, but by facilitating this project, it helped me cope and realize that friends and comfort are just a video call away.
Oklahoma English Language Arts Academic Standards:
Standard 1: Speaking and Listening: Students will speak and listen effectively in a variety of situations including, but not limited to, responses to reading and writing
5.1.R.2: Students will ask and answer questions to seek help, get information, or clarify about information presented orally through text or other media to confirm understanding.
5.1.R.1: Students will actively listen and speak clearly using appropriate discussion rules with awareness of verbal and nonverbal cues.
5.1.R.3: Students will engage in collaborative discussions about appropriate topics and texts, expressing their own ideas clearly while building on the ideas of others in pairs, diverse groups, and whole class settings.
5.1.W.1: Students will give formal and informal presentations in a group or individually, organizing information and determining appropriate content for audience.