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Lesson Plan #:AELP-WCP000
Author: Jan Riley
School or Affiliation: Maplewood School, Anchorage, AK
Endorsed by: These lesson plans are the result of the work of the teachers who have attended the Columbia Education Center’s Summer Workshop. CEC is a consortium of teacher from 14 western states dedicated to improving the quality of education in the rural, western, United States, and particularly the quality of math and science Education. CEC uses Big Sky Telegraph as the hub of their telecommunications network that allows the participating teachers to stay in contact with their trainers and peers that they have met at the Workshops.
Adapted from: M. Hunt, Noel Nelson, AWP, etal Date: May 1994

Grade Level(s): 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


  • Language Arts/Writing


A class directory is a booklet of stories written by the students in a given class about other students in the class. By doing this project, students become better acquainted and bond as a class. When done at the beginning of the year it not only breaks the ice, it serves as a diagnostic tool for the teacher. I can quickly assess where each student is in social skills, language, reading, writing, spelling, etc. Writing skills, such as asking for complete information, following up on questions, organizing information on a variety of topics, and making generalizations based on specific bits of information, are also developed.

Activities and Procedures:

Each student, teacher, aide, and anyone else who will be taking part in the activity is assigned a number. When a person is interviewed, the information obtained is written in the block on the information sheet which corresponds to that number on the interview sheet. (to make this sheet, simply divide a piece of lined notebook paper in half and each half into 3 equal parts for a total of six blocks. At the top of each block, label a place for name and number . Zerox as many pages as you will need.)

Each student in the class interviews every other participant by asking them three (3) questions and writing in the answer in the correct block on their interview sheets. (In a regular sized class you will want to limit the number of May 1994 interviews to as many as can be accomplished in the amount of time you have allotted for this exercise.) A student may answer a question only once, thus ensuring a variety of information about each student. sometimes the same answer is elicited by a different question. Students must tell the interviewer that they have already given that information so that a different question can be asked.

Before students begin interviewing, the class should talk about the kinds of questions to ask in order to elicit information. You can either let students choose from a large, group-compiled list, or let them each make up 3 questions of their own which must be approved by the teacher. With my small group (8) I find it helpful to read stories from previous classes to give them ideas for questions. I also maintain a list of question used before to draw on if they are unable to think of enough questions. They need to be aware of the need for follow-up questions in order to get sufficient information on a particular question. Students should be required to write their information in complete sentences so that the reader can tell what the question was.

** Getting Ready To Write **

Once the interviewing is completed, the interview sheets are cut apart on the dark lines and sorted according to number. All pieces of information about a particular student are placed in an envelope with that student’s name on it. The envelopes are handed out randomly or you can pair students that could work well together. If students are in pairs, it is easy for them to obtain further information or clarification about each other. The teacher should keep a list of who each person is writing about.

Once students have their envelopes, they need to read all the bits of information and organize them into categories. This is a good time to discuss ways to organize a paper. Then I have them write a rough draft based on the information they have. Students need to be guided into making general statements based on the specific bits of information they have. I check their papers for mechanics, then they rewrite making any changes or improvements on them.

Students may discover that there are big gaps in the information which they have. If so, they need to go to their subject and do some additional interviewing to fill in these gaps.


Each person will make his/her own individual bookcover. Somewhere on the cover will be written Important things to know about (their name). They may draw, letter, make designs, whatever, as long as it illustrates their own personality in some way.

I laminate the bookcovers with clear contact paper myself. Everyone doing this at once usually makes a mess. Once they are laminated they can be bound with a punch and bind machine or just stapled together. Each booklet contains a copy of every participant’s story with the first story belonging to the person on the cover.