8th Graders Gain Empathy and Interview Skills Through Monologue Project
November 18, 2021
Eighth-grade English students recently completed “With Their Eyes,” a monologue project exploring personal accounts surrounding the attacks on September 11, 2001. The anchor text for the unit is a published series of “poem-monologues” originally produced by Stuyvesant High School students as a creative response to the community’s need to process their feelings in aftermath of the attacks, which took place four blocks away from the school. In the same model, Léman students interviewed a member of their community focusing on that person’s experience of 9/11. From those words, the student created a monologue that was part oral history, part journalism, and part dramatic interpretation. The monologues were performed for an audience at the end of the event.
Through the project, eighth graders practiced several skills including crafting effective interview questions, interview skills, transcribing from an audio recording, working effectively in small groups, editing to focus the monologue on a single story, utilizing the poetic form: use of line breaks, white space, enjambment, etc., oral interpretation and performance in front of an audience, and reflecting on our process in writing. Following the performances, students were asked to reflect on their experience of the interview, writing, and performance process as well as what they learned from their classmates’ performances. The result of the project was an exercise in empathy and using performance as a way into understanding another’s experience.