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A Little More Than Just People

School: Four Rivers Charter Public School

City/State: Greenfield, MA

Grade(s): 8

Format(s): Interview(s)

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Social Studies

Project Overview

8th grade students from the Four Rivers Charter School, in Greenfield, Massachusetts, created this book of “monologues of community cultivators.” Students studied people from their community, who both through their vocation or avocation, worked on behalf of their local communities and “gave back” to people living in their area. This product was part of a Learning Expedition on communities through history: using the lens of analyzing how individuals affect communities, students studied civilizations (required by state standards) from the perspective of how particular individuals shaped them. 

As a means for celebrating the lives and work of these “community cultivators,” students, in pairs, interviewed each person, typed up the interview, and wrote a complete transcript. From the transcript, students created a sharply edited monologue – a short memoir - of the interviewees’ words – conveying the voice and values of each of the people interviewed.

Each interview starts with a brief overview by the student, includes a beautiful digital photo of the “community cultivator” and highlights one quote from the monologue. 

Students worked with local community-members to assist in producing this book, including a woman who helped with how to do a high quality interview, a professional photographer who took the photographs and tech people who taught students how to use software to design and layout the book.

The book contains framing language by students describing the project and the larger study in which it was embedded, as well as description and reflection on the interview process.

This professional quality book was produced in part through a publishing grant. Copies of the book were given to the interviewees and were distributed around town. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • The format and layout of this book is very well done – it is a particularly strong model for any class engaged in an interview project
  • Shows tremendous care in the editing and writing of people’s words, providing some exceptional middle school writing models
  • Beautiful photography, which though was not done by students, highlights a school-community partnership with local photographers
  • Shows on of the best examples of supporting materials, including:
    •  A two-part introduction – one by the students and one by the teacher – that orients the reader to the purpose and contents of the book
    • Additional materials at the end of a product – an Epilogue that includes information on the overall process
  • Edited monologues are a lovely way to learn about a person through their own words, but also through the organization and editing of students

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized.
  • With support from peers and adults, I can use the writing process to ensure that purpose and audience have been addressed.
  • I can use technology to collaborate with others while producing and publishing writing.
  • I can use correct grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • I can use correct capitalization, punctuation and spelling to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing that is appropriate to task, purpose and audience.
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