Many people overlook the portion of the common core standards for 8th grade that says students should be able to conduct an interview. This was created for just that reason. Using standards-based grading, this assignment focuses on development of open-ended questions, as well as reflection upon the effectiveness of an interview. I guided students through setting up and conducting an interview prior to sending them out the complete the actual assignment.
For safety reasons, I also sent out an email to all parents asking for support and assistance in selecting the participant to be interviewed. I felt that including parents in this process and asking them to sign a form signifying their approval was a solid step in maintaining the safety of the students, while still allowing them to interview someone they were genuinely interested in.