Students in two lines facing and talking to each other.
Teaching Strategy

Two-Minute Interview

Students interview classmates to gather evidence and ideas about a topic as they practice being active listeners.

Published:

At a Glance

Teaching Strategy

Language

English — US

Subject

  • Advisory
  • Civics & Citizenship
  • English & Language Arts
  • History
  • Social Studies

Grade

6–12

Overview

About This Teaching Strategy

In an activity using the Two-Minute Interview strategy, students gather evidence and ideas by asking questions to a rotating partner. Use this strategy to stimulate students’ thinking as they investigate an essential question or search for evidence in response to an essay prompt. By requiring students to practice active listening and reading, this strategy helps students develop essential skills for learning new information. You can also use this strategy as a way to have students share their work with peers.

 

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Lesson Plans

Steps for Implementation

Ask students to create a list of questions they have about the historical case study the class is investigating or the evidence they have collected. Alternatively, you can ask students to respond to a question such as “Do you agree that laws are the most important factor in overcoming discrimination? Why or why not?”

  • Divide the class in half randomly. Place chairs in two long rows so that students will sit facing each other.
  • Tell students that they will have two minutes to interview each other. One row of students will ask the questions, listen carefully, and take notes. The other row will answer.
  • After two minutes, have one row of students move down so that everyone has a new partner to share evidence or ideas with. Continue this activity until you feel that students have gathered enough evidence or shared enough ideas to generate a full-class discussion.

As the students share their ideas, take notes. Pay particular attention to the following:

  • Patterns of insight, understanding, or strong historical reasoning
  • Patterns of confusion, historical inaccuracies, facile connections, or thinking that indicates students are making overly simplified comparisons between past and present

The goal is for students to share text-based evidence effectively and accurately. The following categories can guide you, the teacher, as you listen to your students’ discussion. Listen for:

  • Factual and interpretive accuracy: offering evidence that is correct and interpretations that are plausible
  • Persuasiveness of evidence: including evidence that is relevant and strong in terms of helping to prove the claim
  • Sourcing of evidence: noting what the source is and its credibility and/or bias 

  • Corroboration of evidence: recognizing how different documents work together to support a claim
  • Contextualization of evidence: placing the evidence into its appropriate historical context

As students debrief, weave in feedback. Affirm their insights. Highlight strong historical reasoning and text-based arguments. Choose one or two misconceptions about the content to address. Point out areas where students may want to reevaluate the ways they are connecting past and present.

After this strategy, you will want to debrief in a class discussion and/or a journal reflection. Prompts for journal writing include:

  • How might you respond to the prompt or essential question now?
  • What did you learn today? How does this information relate to the prompt or essential question?
  • What else do you want to know?

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Facing History and Ourselves is designed for educators who want to help students explore identity, think critically, grow emotionally, act ethically, and participate in civic life. It’s hard work, so we’ve developed some go-to professional learning opportunities to help you along the way.

Using the strategies from Facing History is almost like an awakening.
— Claudia Bautista, Santa Monica, Calif