‘Famous People Interviews’ is a hugely successful activity to use in the classroom. During this activity, each student ‘becomes’ a famous person and is interviewed by another student in the class.
This activity not only teaches students to recognize many famous people, but also covers a large number of Common Core State Standards. Students must research, prepare a presentation, speak publicly, and so on.
Students receive a list of requirements. First, students must create a timeline of the person’s life listing contributions. Second, students must listen to and summarize a famous speech by this person. Finally, each student must create a list of questions that s/he would use if s/he could go back in time and interview this person.
On the day of the interviews, students dress as the famous people. Students interview each other using the list of questions they have provided and prepared to answer. The interviews are videoed.
I have included a few of videos that we used when doing research for this project. Our fifth grade social studies curriculum overs American history beginning with the 1850’s and moves forward.
Sojourner Truth’s Ain’t I a Woman?
Truth presented her “Ain’t I a Woman” speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio on May 28, 1851.
Frederick Douglass’s The Meaning the of the Fourth of July to a Negro
Frederick Douglass gave several powerful speeches. “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” was given in Rochester, New York on July 5, 1852.
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
Abraham Lincoln gave “The Gettysburg Address” on November 19, 1863, two years after the beginning of the American Civil War. Lincoln followed a speech given by Senator Edward Everett which lasted for two hours. Lincoln’s short speech said more that Everett’s long one and ended with “long continued applause.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Solitude of Self
Elizabeth Cady Stanton delivered her speech to the U.S. Congress on January 18, 1892. She served for twenty years as president of the National Woman Suffrage Associate. During this speech, Stanton argued for woman’s rights. [Although the Youtube video looks like a broken link, it will play.]
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself
Roosevelt’s famous speech was his First Inaugural address on March 4, 1933 on the steps of the Capitol Building. This was at the height of the Great Depression. Roosevelt went on to be president for 12 years.
John F. Kennedy’s Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You
Like Roosevelt, Kennedy gave a powerful speech during his First Inaugural Address. The speech was given on January 20, 1961.
Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream
Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his most famous speech on August 28,1963 in front of the Lincoln Memorial. A crowd of 250,000 people were present to hear it.