Search Menu


This site is available only to JEA members. Please log in below.

Covering an event for a beat


As the primary type of coverage done on the web, students need to quickly become proficient in writing beats online. In this lesson, students will learn how to plan beat coverage and then, as a class, cover a schoolwide event.

It would be helpful for the teacher to review the “Beat System” lessons in the Newsgathering and Writing modules of JEA Curriculum.  There are also good lessons to follow this in Newsgathering on how to build relationships and pitch beat story ideas.

It is recommended that students complete this lesson before covering their first beat.

* This is most effective if done in conjunction with an all-school activity that students can attend and cover as a sample beat.


  • Students will understand how to plan for coverage
  • Students will identify what newsgathering can be done before an event
  • Students will write a sample beat based on a school event.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2.E Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.


Two or three 50-minute class periods, plus attendance at a school event


Slideshow: Covering an Event for a Beat

Handout: Covering an Event for a Beat

Handout: Beat Planning Checklist

Rubric: Beat Planning Checklist

(Optional – review the lesson News Writing Structure)

Lesson step-by-step

1. Introduction — 10 minutes
Share the story linked on slide two of the presentation (you can share via Google Classroom or print and distribute a copy). Have students review the sample story on slide two while taking notes.  (Feel free to update with your own professional example story)

2. Discussion/review (slide 3) — 10 minutes
Teacher should lead a discussion and have students share their observations about the following story elements:

  • Sensory details
  • Direct quotes
  • Background information
  • Characters in the narrative

(using a think-pair-share with equity cards is an effective way to lead these discussions).

3. Direct Instruction — 20-30 minutes
Lead the class through slides 4-16 of the presentations, pausing for discussion as indicated.

4. Activity — end of Day 1 (homework)
Distribute the “Beat Planning” handout. Have students complete this before the activity you will cover as a class (it can be effective to schedule this lesson to occur when a school assembly, speaker, or sporting event are about to occur).

Have students attend a school event and bring the checklist and their notes to class the next day.

Day 2 – Review and work time
Begin class by having students share their notes and observation of the event in small groups. Direct students to begin writing the article following the guidelines from the JEA News Writing Structure lesson.

(Optional – students can utilize this template to help guide their writing)

Students can work on this during class time and complete the article for homework.  They should submit their Beat Planning Handout as well.


Depending on students’ skill level and available technology, they can work alone or in groups to complete the writing.

Advanced students can be challenged to come up with more than one angle to cover for the writing assignment.

If needed, add a step before the writing draft is due to allow student to peer edit and revise before submission.