Interviewing 375 people might seem like a daunting task for a group of third-graders.
At first, Jim Gilvarry’s students at Southold Elementary School wondered how it could be done in time for the town’s 375th anniversary celebration this year.
But after Mr. Gilvarry explained that math could help them figure out how to split up the work, student Katie Garms said she found the assignment quite manageable.
“Everybody in the class had to interview 15 people,” she said. “Fifteen times 25 is 375, so if all us of interviewed 15 people, we’d have 375 interviews all together.”
Mr. Gilvarry said he had his students ask 375 people to describe what they like best about living in Southold Town. They also interviewed business owners to create a local Zagat-inspired guide in honor of the town’s 375th birthday.
Students interviewed a wide range of residents — from kindergartners to great-grandparents — and separated the responses into five categories: people and community (135 responses), nature (125 responses), business (75 responses), schools (25 responses) and other (15 responses).
“Everybody likes everybody in the town,” said student Grace Zehil when asked why she believes most people’s answers favored Southold Town’s people and community.
Her classmate Tristin Healy said the most interesting story he came across during his interviews was from his father.
“My dad said he likes fishing in the rain because that’s how you usually catch more fish,” Tristin said.
After all the interviews were categorized, students created a variety of graphs — including bar, chart, circle, line and picture — to summarize their data.
“We came up with different ways of representing the information to make it easier to understand,” Mr. Gilvarry said.
Students were challenged to interview people they didn’t know and write quickly during interviews, and many said they enjoyed the experience of working as reporters.
Although student Bryan Henry acknowledged this is the only year the town can celebrate its 375th birthday, he believes the interview project will be beneficial to future third-graders and hopes Mr. Gilvarry teaches it again.
“I know what I love about the community and it was nice to find out what other people think,” he said.
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