Teaching Strategy

Affirmation Interview

Community Inquiry
Grade Level


During Affirmation Interview, students practice verbal and non-verbal communication in the roles of “interviewer” and “interviewee.”


Before and after reading


Affirmation Interview helps students get acquainted, builds an inclusive classroom community, and strengthens listening, speaking and interpersonal communication.



  1. Select a central text and Identify a focus for the interview from the text.
  2. Have students read the text, either individually, in pairs or as a whole class.
  3. Introduce the class to writing effective text-dependent interview questions. Use these criteria to guide your introduction.
    Text-dependent questions:
    • Can only be answered with evidence from the text.
    • Can be literal but must also involve analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
    • Focus on word, sentence and paragraph detail as well as themes or events
    • Focus on difficult portions of text to enhance reading proficiency
    • Can be about content, meaning, connections or style.
  4. Direct students to select five interview questions from the class-generated list.
  5. Strategically pair students. Assign one student the role of the interviewer and another the role of interviewee.
  6. Instruct students to interview each other about the central text. The interviewee's responses must include textual evidence. The interviewer records the interviewee's responses.
  7. Students switch roles.
  8. Put pairs together to form groups of four. Instruct students to share their interview responses with their new group mates.
  9. Tell students that, during sharing, they are responsible for affirming each member of the group at least once. Provide examples of affirmations such as: “Thank you,” “I like how you re-stated that,” or, “That was a really thoughtful thing to say.”
  10. Bring the large group back together. Ask students to share insights from the team experience with the whole class.

English language learners

English language learners may begin class with lowered confidence because of their lack of English proficiency; a strategy that encourages positive feedback can help.  Allow lower-proficiency students to use flashcards or cheat sheets with affirmation prompts. Be sure all students are clear on the content and meaning of the affirmations so they can use them correctly while sharing in their groups.

Connection to anti-bias education

Affirmation Interview captures positive behaviors and encourages mutual support, respect, collaboration and community building. The strategy also empowers learners by turning over responsibility of communication to students.

Sample text-dependent interview questions:

Before reading interview questions:
  • What do you most want to learn about the central text?
  • What experiences have you had with…?
  • When in your life would you find it useful to…?
After reading interview questions:
  • What did you learn from the text?
  • What would you like to know more about?
  • How will you use what you have learned?
  • What did you find most interesting about the reading?
  • What did you find most difficult?
  • What did you find surprising?

Critical Literacy Text-Dependent Questions

Use these critical literacy question models to create text-dependent questions that examine the role of power and privilege in the central text. Craft questions so that students must defend and explain their response with reference to the texts being studied.

1. Textual Purposes
What is this text about? How do we know?
Who would be most likely to read this text and why?
Why are we reading this text?
What does the author of this text want us to know?
2. Textual Structures and Features
What are the structures and features of this text?
What genre does this text belong to?
What do the images suggest?
What kind of language is used in the text?
3. Construction of Characters
How are children, teenagers, young adults, and adults constructed in this text?
What does the author tell us and not tell us about these characters/subjects?
Why has the author constructed the characters in this way?
4. Power and Interest
Who benefits from this text?
How does the text depict age, gender and different cultural groups?
Who is allowed to speak? Who is quoted?
5. Gaps and Silences
Are there gaps where something is left out of this text for the reader to fill in?
Are there silences in this text that leave out certain viewpoints or voices?
What questions does the text not raise?
What effect do the gaps and silences have on the text and reader?
6. Whose View? Whose Reality?
What views of the world does the text present?
How does the text construct a version of reality?
How would the text be different if it were told in another time, place, or culture?
7. Interrogating the Author
What kind of person, and with what interests and values, authored the text?
What view of the world and values does the author assume the reader holds? How do we know?
8. Multiple Meanings
What different interpretations of the text are possible?
How else could the text have been written?
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