Create a deck of cards, with words or pictures, based on your interview/research objective. My focus was to determine what mattered most to my students. I chose to use simple pictures on the cards.
Next, I asked the student to rank the cards according to what is most important to them. I used the Card Sort as the hook to spark deeper conversations about what the student valued, and why. I began with broad questions, focusing on the who, what, when, where, why and how starters that fostered a more natural conversation and led to more personal stories.
I found the Card Sort to be an effective way to interview my students who I just met. Sometimes, students like to tell their teachers what they think we want to hear, and this was especially true for me since I did it right at the start of the year (4th day of school). Whether it's the start of the year, or smack in the middle, the Card Sort is a great option to give your students a tactile, visual exercise that may feel less daunting than "Can we sit down and talk I would like to interview you?"
As their stories were going deeper, every student kept looking back at the way they sorted their cards. Whether it was for a sense of security, a reminder of their own mental models, or just because most kids are highly visual; using the Cards was highly effective for me to conduct my interviews.
Note: It is helpful to also mix in some more abstract ideas as it can provide additional information on how our students' prioritize what matters the most to them.