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Elementary students interview The Examiner

By Seth Hancock
  The definition of inquiry is “the act of asking questions in order to gather or collect information” and education is “the act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge.”
  So it may be fair to say that the mark of an educated person is the willingness to ask questions in order to constantly learn throughout life, and Lori Delk’s fifth grade class at Bartlett’s Liberty Elementary School is full of inquisitive young minds.
  The Examiner recently had the chance to visit Delk’s class and discuss how to interview people, the writing and editing process and the process of producing a newspaper.
  Delk has some students interested in being writers some day, and she has invited people from the community in the past to come and give a presentation.
  “I believe it is important for the students to see the school and community work together,” Delk said. “The students feel valued when a community member shares their time with them. It sends a positive message to the students on many levels. The students also have an opportunity to see how, in this case, writing is used in the ‘real world’ providing another perspective.”
  The “point of view” is one of the key emphases of writing during the fifth grade according to Delk, and getting a chance to learn from a wide range of perspectives is an important to developing an individual’s point of view.
  Right now Delk’s class is a part of a “walking party” following the path of National Geographic Magazine reporter Paul Salopek who is on a walking journey around the globe. On National Geographic’s website, it says Salopek is on a “21,000-mile odyssey” as a “decade-long experiment in slow journalism” as he tells the stories of varying groups of people from around the world.
  As part of the “walking party,” Delk’s class gets to interact with students from around the world.
  “This offers multiple views of this one world we share,” Delk said. “I think this broadens their understanding at a level they are not really aware of right now, but is helping them grow and develop into global thinkers. These students will face a completely different world than you and I know. We have to do our best to help them prepare to meet it.”
  Delk added: “All of these experiences I hope will lay down a foundation that will create and support curious students who look beyond the surface of their world and reach for their wonder.”
  Delk’s class was ready for The Examiner’s visit as students prepared a host of questions concerning writing and interviewing people, and students sent thank you letters for the visit. Students continued to search for knowledge by writing additional questions in their letters, and The Examiner would like to answer a few more of them.
  “Do you have any similarities to” Salopek?
  Salopek is on a unique journey bringing points of view from around the world while The Examiner is focused on the local communities it serves, but we do share one important thing in common and that’s telling the stories of people and having a desire to give all perspectives a voice. A good journalist is one who wants all voices to be heard.
  Several students inquired about dealing with people during interviews “do you ever feel excited after interviews or jittery,” “do you ever talk to any mean or rude people,” “have you ever had an interview cancelled” and “when someone doesn’t want to talk… what strategies do you use to make them loosen up and talk?
  Many time an interview can leave a reporter excited such as talking to a player who hit a game-winning shot or one who had the big hit to send their baseball team to state. Sometimes talking to “mean or rude” people can make a reporter nervous. Unfortunately “mean or rude” people exist and a reporter, like most people, sometimes has to deal with that. Although not often, people do back out of an interviews. A reporter can’t make anyone talk, but a reporter can explain why it’s important for that person to speak. If someone refuses to and there’s no way around it, the reporter needs to seek out others willing to speak or use data through research and investigation.
  One student wrote, “I want to be a writer when I am grownup,” and several said that they’d learned a lot from the visit. 
  And some advice for the students, continue to ask questions, investigate and seek answers because that’s how you learn and grow.



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