There are many ways to approach an interview activity, depending on what you want students to practice. I prefer to use every student's name as the row headings, and usually three to six columns of options or question points. Alternatively, you could have students write in the names of ten students for the row headings. I prefer having students' names already on the sheet because they love to see their name pre-printed; it seems to make them feel special, like you took the effort to bother with typing their names in there. That is well worth the few minutes it takes to make a personalized interview template! Also, I like having grids with more areas to complete because it gives the opportunity for faster-paced students to visit a lot of people without accomplishing the whole task before the rest of the class is done. It gives each student an opportunity to work at his or her own pace, without feeling as if he or she is too slow or way ahead of everyone else. Since the objective is not necessarily to "finish" the grid, I don't grade off for students not finishing. If a student is not fully participating, I work to re-engage that student; if that proves unsuccessful, I warn them that their grade will be affected. Then I make a note and let the student know that they have been marked down, but that exceptional participation for the remaining x number of minutes could earn that point back. That way the student has the most chances possible to succeed and self-correct.
When students participate in an interview activity, I instruct them to ask each student one question before asking the same student a second question, so that someone doesn't ask every question of only a few people. The goal is interaction with the whole class, or as many different students as possible. I also ask students to vary the column category question they are asking, so that a variety of question points are being practiced rather than the same question asked 26 times in a row, exactly the same way. As I walk around, I encourage students to rephrase questions in different ways when appropriate, for the same reason.
At different points in the unit, you can choose different interview focuses, starting with more simple constructions and functions to the more complex. In the beginning, you might choose five different menu items for the columns headers, and students can ask each other if they like each item, filling in only oui or non at the basic level. As students progress (in that same activity or as a new variation), they could write phrases or sentences, speaking as the other person or about the other person. So, students could move (again, in the same activity, and/or over several different variations of an activity) from the following interview grid responses: oui/non to aime/n'aime pas, to aime un peu/aime beaucoup, to adore/déteste, to recording each partner's responses as quotes with J'aime>>/Je n'aime pas>>, to Il/Elle aime/n'aime pas, to X,Y,et Z, ils/elles aiment/n'aiment pas. (6) With each alternative activity, you will want to tweak the questions students are asking, demonstrating when different phrasing can produce the same or synonymous responses and when little tweaks lead one to a specific answer. You want to give students enough practice so that they are able to demonstrate comfort and familiarity with the phrases without overdoing it so much that the fun and intrigue is gone. Changing the question possibilities offers the faster-paced learner the opportunity to continue practicing and acquiring new skills, at no cost to the slower-paced learner. More advanced options for questioning would be to ask if someone thinks that X is healthy, etc. (Est-ce que tu crois que X est sain/e, etc.) For this language level, I would provide the end of the sentence that combines the item with the adjective, so students start to see the adjective agreement but are not yet responsible for producing it.
There are countless ways in which the interview grid can be used in these lessons. I will highlight some as they fit in the sections below, but be creative! The interview grid can be pared down for more concentrated paired practice by replacing the row headings with a number of items and/or question stems, and by replacing the column headings with two to four blanks, in which students write down a partner's name. In that way, students get the opportunity to share more information with fewer people.
Once students have completed the interview grids, they can be used for class-wide question and answer, as in Est-ce qu'Étudiant X aime Y? (Does Student X like Y?) and Qui aime X? (Who likes X?) Not only does this keep kids accountable and engaged, but it also gives them practice outside of the you- and me-centric world of middle school language-learning by using third-person singular and plural forms of verbs.