Establish TAP: Topic, Audience,
FACTS: Who, What, When, Where, Why,
1. Choose a topic on which to
2. What do you need to know to understand the
3. What do you already know about the topic?
Reporter Trick: On another sheet of paper,
start to write your report. As you write, on another sheet of paper,
write questions that come to mind: things you do not know or
understand about the topic. You will need to know: Who, what, when,
where, why, how.
4. Think of people who know something about
the topic. List names of people you could interview.
5. What do you think the people you will
interview already know?
6. What do you need to know? Make an ordered
list of your questions and include your introduction to the person.
Your introduction should include: what your topic is; why you are
wondering about it; asking them to help you.
REMEMBER TO ASK PRECISE, CLEAR QUESTIONS THAT
CANNOT BE ANSWERED WITH A YES OR NO &emdash;&emdash;questions you
think your interviewee can answer that will help you complete your
7. These sections in your Write Source 2000
will help you:
- 402-404 (listening)
- 273-4 (take notes)
- 171-177(news story)
- 159-162 (character sketch)
- 310 (thinking moves)
- 178-179 (editorial)
- Look up other information as you need.
- Think of questions about your
topic. Put each one on a note card (273).
- Make sure the questions cannot
be answered with "yes" or "no."
- Contact the person at school,
in person, or via a note:
"Hello. I am __________. I am writing a
story (or report) about ___________. Could you help me by answering a
few questions? Some of my questions are ...(say questions if talking
by phone or provide a list). When would be a good day for you, _____
or _________ ? About what time, ____ or ____?
(If they have already stated a time, use
Thank you. I will see you on _______ at
- Practice your questions.
- Practice taking notes.
- Practice with a tape-recorder,
if you are using one.
- If you are going with a
partner, decide who will interview, and who will take notes.
Remember to look for:
- dialogue, facts, good detail
and descriptions in interviewee's answer
- descriptions of the
interviewee--how will you describe him/her/them?
- Introduce yourself and thank
- Take notes or tape-record the
interview (ask permission).
- Ask your questions--good
questions get good answers.
- LISTEN to the answers
carefully--you may think of other questions; good questions mean
your interviewee will do most of the talking, which is what you
- Silently encourage your
interviewee (nod head, say "um-hmm", "yes", "oh",
- Let the person talk; do not
interrupt unless you must.
- If you wonder about spelling,
circle the word and go back later to ask for correct spelling.
- If you think of another
question, put a ? in the margin and ask it later.
- If you don't get all the facts,
draw a circle for missing info and ask later.
- Before you leave, go over your
notes to make sure you understand everything (see above
- Thank your interviewee and
offer to show the person a copy of your finished work at a later
DO IT RIGHT AWAY
BEFORE YOU FORGET---IT WILL SLIP
- Double-check any facts of
information with the interviewee to make sure you have the correct
- Be ready by
Revising (TAP: Topic, Audience, Purpose)
- Write an interesting story from
your notes so others will completely understand the
issue/topic/history about which you are writing.
- Capture the excitement.
- Keep things in order.
- Add, cut, rearrange.
- Revise for powerful
descriptions. Remember to use vivid verbs and precise
- Whisper is stronger than
- Tip-toe is stronger than
walks carefully and quietly.
- Poodle is stronger than
- Keep to the FACTS: who, what,
where, when, why, how
(Write Source 2000 #159)
Bring the person to life by describing the
person both physically and personally. Physical descriptions tell
about the person's appearance, their surroundings, the background
--the room, the noise, the people.(Write Source 2000 #160)
Personality descriptions tell your
observations about the person's beliefs, feelings, attitudes. You
must describe the person so the reader can visualize the person
(Write Source 2000 #161).
Another aspect of a character sketch is how
other people feel--and how you feel about the person (Write Source