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Fact finding and observation


In this lesson, students will practice essential skills of a reporter: finding and researching facts, interviewing and observation. The lesson includes a school-wide scavenger hunt that requires students to use their reporting skills to uncover information while familiarizing them with the sources of information in their school.


  • Students will practice observation as a means of gathering information for writing.
  • Students will conduct research to find factual information.
  • Students will conduct short interviews to gain factual information.
  • Students will become familiar with resources for reporting within their school.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1.b Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, and presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
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.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.


About 15 minutes of one class period for introduction and explanation. Activities completed by groups in stages, one group per day until all have had a chance to complete the hunt. Observation activity and interview activity are completed outside class.


Handout: Staff scavenger hunt and fact find

Scavenger hunt plus rubric 

Lesson step-by-step

NOTE TO TEACHERS: Before this lesson, you must customize the scavenger hunt for your school and line up several cooperative teachers who will allow students to interview them. Add facts about those teachers to the scavenger hunt form where noted. You should also prepare office staff, the activities director, guidance staff, coaches and others who often are quoted for news and information to be ready to answer questions or confirm answers.

Divide the class into groups of three or four students. To minimize disruption, send groups out in stages, one or two groups per day until all have completed the activity.

1. Introduction — 10-15 minutes

With this assignment, students will learn where to find information in the school and use various reporting skills, including researching facts, observation, listening and interviewing. They will work together to become more familiar with the school and its people, while using a variety of means to collect information.

This assignment is in three parts: Group scavenger hunt, individual teacher interview and individual event observation.

Group grades will be given for accurate completion of the scavenger hunt. Individual grades will be given for teacher interviews and event observations. Students have one week from the day their group goes on the scavenger hunt to complete all three parts.

2. Activity

Distribute the scavenger hunt forms only to the groups who are going on a scavenger hunt that day. Remind students that their group grade depends not only on completion, but also on their conduct while outside your classroom and their ability to work together. Check the form to see how much is completed when the group returns.

Remind students that the assignment also requires an individual interview and observation of an event.

Interview with a teacher: Students should choose one teacher for a short interview. The idea is to find out three unusual things about that teacher, so the key is to ask good questions that elicit interesting answers. Three questions and quotes are required.

Observation notes: This activity provides students practice in gathering information via observation of an event. The objective of this activity is to incorporate what they witness into a story and to recognize the importance of observation as a news gathering technique.

Students must select an event to observe continuously for at least 15 minutes. As they observe, they are to write notes of their observation. Following the observation and note taking, students are to transcribe their observations by creating five statements that could be included in a story. Students must write two leads for the story that could result from their observation: One summary lead and one feature lead that uses observation.

Suitable options for observation include: a live sporting event at school or in the community; a meeting of any club or organization at school; a lecture class or guest speaker; a pep rally or other school wide activity; a band, drama, dance team or debate practice.


Use the “Scavenger hunt plus rubric handout to provide both group and individual grades.

This lesson can be considered a unit-ending summative assessment as it requires use of all skills taught in the Basic Reporting unit.


Students must work in groups so that less advanced students and students unfamiliar with campus can be paired with those who are more proficient. The group grade is based on conduct and completion rather than on the quality of the answers. Individual work can be modified as needed to meet individual student needs.

Teachers also have the option to make the scavenger hunt shorter by eliminating questions on the form at their discretion.