StoryCorps’ mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives.”

“We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters. At the same time, we are creating an invaluable archive for future generations.”

Watch this…

Then this…

Browse the archives by visiting the StoryCorps website then choose one interview that you find interesting and…

  1. Note the relationship between the interviewer and interviewee
  2. List the questions asked
  3. Comment on the overall tone of the interview, and what made it effective
  4. Highlight two noteworthy excerpts from the conversation that made for a great story

Discuss potential interview subjects with a partner, talking about hopes and goals you’d have for this interview. Who is your influential person and what is your connection to them? Think of a “chapter” of that person’s life story; how will you build a speech to inspire and motivate your audience?

Eventually, you may choose to use this as a resource to prep the interview questions for your Major Interview Speech, working to come up with a list of 7-10 questions prior to the interview.


Big Think with Sherman Alexie

Interview Speech

Essential Question: What does effective communication look like?

Background: Having a thoughtful conversation with someone is one of the most important skills needed to be successful in whatever you do in life. This assignment will help you develop a number of skills necessary to effectively communicate one-on-one with someone.

Major Learning Targets:

Apply listening strategies while conducting an interview

Organize thoughts/ideas into a clear and coherent outline

Develop and use a variety of types of questions

Determine appropriate way to organize a speech

Guidelines: You must interview someone of interest. Think of a subject carefully; you may want to go beyond the bounds of school and familiar territory, or you may use this as an opportunity to learn more about a friend or family member. The goal of the speech is for you to gain some knowledge or insight into a time, lifestyle, problem, or occupation and to share that with the audience in a speech revolving around a single story.

Purpose: The purpose of the Interview Speech is to motivate or inspire; delivery can be humorous, dramatic, etc. to fit with the tone of the overall message.

StoryCorps is a great resource with a huge bank of interview questions to use; here’s a big list of Story Corps Questions!

*interviewee must be 22+ years old; no siblings/parents unless cleared by Mr. Parker*


  1. Determine who you will interview by Monday 10/16
  2. Narrow the topic or “focus” the subject matter of the interview. In other words, don’t interview someone on their entire life, but a particular experience, story, event, etc. about their life.
  3. Contact the subject and request an interview for a convenient time and place
  4. Prepare a list of questions (7-10) by Monday 10/16
  5. Formulate follow up questions during the interview to focus the conversation
  6. Conduct the interview and take careful notes (or record) by Sunday 10/22
  7. Identify key points of interview and develop an outline by Thursday 10/26
  8. Develop notecards based on your outline
  9. Practice Wednesday 10/26
  10. Present! 10/27-11/1

Deadline Requirements: (10/26)

  1. 3-5 minutes in length
  2. 3 note cards -> 30 words max per card
  3. 10 interview questions + notes
  4. Practice Ticket
  5. Outline (typed)

Formative Work:

  1. Celebrity Interview – question prep
  2. Teacher Interview – question prep, conduct interview, internal structure
  3. Classmate Interview – question prep, conduct interview, full outline, delivery



  1. pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.

The Unfortunate Accident 

Essential Question:  What makes effective speech delivery?  What makes a speech memorable?

Purpose: to entertain, to tell a story

 Learning Targets:

  • Tell the story explaining the origin of a “scar” (broken bone, chipped tooth, etc.) that you own, you witnessed, or you’re blamed for
  • Organize brainstorming information into a coherent outline of main points and supporting details
  • Paraphrase information from outline onto a notecard to serve as key points for speech delivery
  • Utilize strong public speaking techniques to deliver a speech about personal experiences


  • Speeches should be between 3-4 minutes.
  • Typed outline turned in at the end of the hour on Monday, October 2.
  • 3 Note cards with 25-30 words each turned in after speech is given.
  • Practice Ticket (5+ practices, 3+ partners)


  • Be creative. Showcase who you are as a character in your story.
  • When choosing a “scar”, focus more on the story than the scar or injury itself.
  • Consider brainstorming as follows: selecting multiple scars, generating the story behind it, select the one with strongest story, elaborate and write your speech.
  • Relax and have as much fun as possible with this first speech, as it will help set the tone for the rest of the semester.

Outlines are due for all students on Monday, October 2; speeches will be delivered in class October 2-6.

Click the link to a simple model of a sample outline for the Unfortunate Accident.

Allegory of the Instagram

  1. Read Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave
  2. Watch <inset “cave” YouTube videos here> Claymation
  3. Read 29 Instagram Hacks and one choice article
  4. Watch I Tried to Get Instagram Famous and one choice video
  5. Consider possible connections between definitions of “truth” and “identity” in Cave and the culture of identity and truth that exist in online platforms like Instagram
  6. Choose a piece of content with a high volume of “likes” (either your own or that of a celebrity, either traditional or in a 21st Century social media definition) and complete the grid below:
  1. Synthesize the information from the grid into an essay-quality paragraph, making an argument about the effectiveness of the piece of content in terms of contributions to the outward identity of the speaker.
  2. Present observations and findings to the class using Google Slides (one slide per element), and one final slide of synthesis summary.

Spirit Animal (Mini) Speech

The concept of the Spirit Animal is rooted in the Native American tradition that one’s spirit takes on the characteristics of a sacred totem in animal form. The cunning of the fox, the wisdom of the owl, the ferocious nature of the wolf, and more serve as representations of one’s inner spirit and exterior persona.

The Atlantic discusses how the Spirit Animal has gone viral. Modern internet culture, inspired by the traditional totem ideals, has created memes, quizzes, and more with Samuel L. Jackson, Grumpy Cat, and even Sharknado as a different form of “spirit animals”.

This speech forms the skills of content and delivery of narrative story-telling that will be assessed in the Scar Story speech next week. The goal of the Spirit Animal speech is to speak for 60-90 seconds naming your spirit animal, three character traits that you share with that animal, and a story from your life experiences that illustrates a time where you harnessed the power of your spirit animal.


You don’t choose your Spirit Animal, the Spirit Animal chooses you…but if that’s not working, google “spirit animal quiz” for a little inspiration!

The Best Meal I Ever Had…

I love food.

Of all the meals I’ve ever had, there are meals that just stand out from the rest. Maybe it was the restaurant or a trip. Maybe it was the company. Maybe it was a perfect homemade feast. Maybe it was a new experience, something never before tasted. Maybe it was a combination of all of those things.

Whatever the case, these meals, everything on and around the plate, come together to create a story.

Tell that story.

Creatively draft a narrative story revolving around this meal with a clear beginning, middle, and end, including dialogue and detail about the setting and characters.

For American Literature, aim for a full page (hand-written).

For Speech, aim for a 60-90 second window with an emphasis on the delivery skill of voice (volume, speed, variety, clarity, tone) and the content skill of introductions.