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News gathering basics unit review and test


This lesson provides a review and a test of news gathering basics: research, writing questions, interviewing and observation. It is a classroom-based option to culminate the News Gathering Basics unit.

For a more experiential option for a culminating lesson, see Fact finding and observation.


  • Students will practice observation as a means of gathering information for writing.
  • Students will demonstrate basic knowledge of reporting skills.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of basic news gathering terms.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.


Two 50-minute class periods, one for review and one for test.

Additional class time may be used to directly teach or review vocabulary.


Slideshow: News gathering vocabulary

Interviewing vocabulary

Research vocabulary

News gathering basics test with key and rubric

Lesson step-by-step

Day One: Review and Explain Take-Home Assignment

1. Tap prior knowledge

Using the slideshow and vocabulary worksheets, review vocabulary and the skills associated with the vocabulary. For this unit, use only the Interviewing and Research vocabulary. 20 points in the unit test are matching vocabulary.

If you have not already required the vocabulary worksheets, you may provide class time to complete as part of the slideshow review, and use the completed worksheets as an exit ticket.  Or you may assign the worksheets as homework and require students to turn it in as an entrance ticket on exam day.

2. Explain take-home assignment

As part of their test, students have a two-part take-home assignment, which requires them to demonstrate skills taught in this unit. This portion is 55 percent of the unit test grade. A handout is provided at the end of the News Gathering Basics Test.

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.

If students need more practice with vocabulary, you can try some of the activities in the News vathering vocabulary lesson.

3. Closure

Allow time for questions on the take home assignment and set a deadline, which will be the test date.  Students must turn in the take-home portion as an entry ticket on test day.

Day Two – Test

Set a test date, allowing time for students to complete the vocabulary worksheets and take-home assignment, at least a few days, but no more than one week.  On test day, require the take-home assignment to be turned in before you give out the test.

Administer “News gathering basics test.”  Rubric for take-home portion and key are provided.

Assign a current event analysis (see Analyze the pros) or provide other desk work for students who finish the test early. Allow as much time as needed for students who require extra time.


The take-home section is slightly more than half the grade, and will allow students who do not test well to accomplish more. For some students, you may allow this section to count more.  The test is divided into short answer, multiple choice and matching, to give students with varying abilities to test better on segment they find easier.  One 50-minute class period should be more than adequate time for students to complete the test. Most will finish early.