Our next video project is here! Video Your Vote was such a success, we want to use your students' enthusiasm to explore how the economic downturn is affecting your communities and lives. We hope you and your class will participate. The deadline for YouTube submissions for this project is December 31.

In the lesson plan below you'll find a few suggested topics and ideas for interviews. Please have your students brainstorm questions to ask their interview subjects. The interviews can be separate videos or edited together into a report.

Explore how the economy is affecting different industries by doing a series of short interviews with business owners, managers, employees or costumers. Try to find businesses that are different sizes and serve different needs.

You could talk to the manager of a large grocery chain store, clothing store or gas station, or the owner of a beauty shop or a small family-owned business. You could also talk to the manager of a local bank, a real estate agent in the area or someone in the construction industry. Once you have talked to some of the business owners and operators, try talking to their costumers.

Some topics to explore in your interviews:

  • How is the economy specifically affecting that business or industry?
  • Have retailers had any trouble getting products from their suppliers?
  • Are people and business taking any longer to pay their bills?
  • Is this business better or worse off than those in other industries?
  • Has the business experienced an economic slump like this before?
  • Have customer habits changed in the past year? Are they selling more
or less of certain types of goods or services?
  • What are the businesses doing to attract more costumers? If they are cutting prices, by how much?
  • What, if anything, are they doing to cut costs? Have they had to sell
parts of the business, let employees go, stop selling certain products?

Interview parents and students about how the economy is affecting their lives, spending habits and priorities.

Some topics to explore in your interviews:

-How are the economic problems trickling down to individuals in your area?
-What level of stress are people feeling about the economy?
-With the holidays coming up, how will things be different this year?
-What are some of the first things both students and adults are willing to give up to save a little money? What are some of the things they are not willing to give up?
  • Are people borrowing less?
  • How much less are people spending?

If you and your class would like to try editing a video piece together, you can create one news-style report about the economic health of your area. Interview business owners, people in the real-estate industry, local government officials, parents or students. Use any of the suggested topics or sources from the activities above. Try to pick people who talk passionately. Remind them not to look at the camera. Shoot some footage of them working, and of the most interesting sights in and around their workplace. (You will need such footage if you plan to write narration.) Try to give the story a beginning, middle and end. The viewer should know, after watching it, what the point of the story was. Above all, try to be interesting and even, if possible, entertaining.

When you are ready to upload a video for this project simply upload to YouTube and tag with PBSschool . We will be collecting your videos and posting them to our YouTube channel as well as the NewsHour Extra Web site.

Please let us know if you have any questions!

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