Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Families: A Jr. High School Youth Program that Explores the Diversity, Commonality, and Meaning of Families

Activity 2: Learning Through Inquiry

Part of Families

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint and markers
  • Paper and pens or pencils

Description of Activity

Remind participants that the photo-documentary project involves narrative in addition to photographs. One way to generate narrative is by interviewing families. During the second Family Event (or independently, if a second Family Event is not possible), youth will have the opportunity to interview the families they photographed. When interviewing families, it is best to use as many open-ended questions as possible. Use the following prompts and list ideas on newsprint.
  • What are some examples of closed-ended questions? Some examples might include:
    • Who is in your family?
    • Where do you live and how long have you lived there?
    • How long have you been part of this congregation?
    • How often is your family together for meals?
  • What are some examples of open-ended questions? These might include:
    • Tell me a story about your family.
    • What are a few of your family traditions?
    • What things do you like most about your family?
    • What is hard about being part of your family?
    • What can you not tell about your family from this photograph?
    • If you could choose a slogan for your family, what would it be?
  • What is the difference between the answers to closed-ended questions versus the answers to open-ended questions?

Now invite participants to work in pairs to try out different types of questions. Provide paper and pens. Remind youth that the person who is doing the inquiry needs to take notes. This is a challenge of recording narratives, and it is critical. After five minutes (or sooner, if you observe participants winding down), have the pairs switch roles.

Gather the group together. Ask them to reflect on the following questions: What prompts yielded the best information? What challenges arose during this process? How can this experience inform our work?

While recording ideas on newsprint, help participants decide on six good questions that they might use when they interview families. Encourage them to draw on their experiences in this exercise. After the group has generated the questions, suggest that all participants copy the questions so they have them during interviews.

Including All Participants

If your group includes youth who are extremely shy or who have difficulty in social interactions, suggest using the list of questions as a survey. The survey questions could be preprinted and handed to families to fill out. If participants are comfortable doing so, they can review the answers with the families upon return of the survey.