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Question and answer


This lesson covers how to effectively perform a one-on-one interview in Q-and-A format. The lesson will show the various types of coverage that can be provided with a Q-and-A, how to prepare for the interview, and how to conduct this style of coverage.


  • Students will understand the difference between a Q&A and other interview formats.
  • Students will comprehend, analyze, and evaluate professionally published Q&A interviews.
  • Students will comprehend the difference between hard news and soft news.
  • Students will effectively conduct both a hard news and soft news Q&A.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.
 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.
 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.9-10.2b Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.


One 50-minute class

Portions of two other class periods

*Note: This assignment spans two weeks.


Slideshow: Q&A

Handout: Possible topics for Q&A

Student examples: Q&A interviews

Rubric: Q&A interview

Access to published Q and A interviews from professional publications

Lesson step-by-step


1. Introduction — 5 minutes

Using the guided questions on Slide 2 of the Q-and-A slideshow, discuss what makes a good Q-and-A.

2. Slideshow — 15 minutes

Use the Q-and-A slideshow to teach students about the different types of Q-and-As and how to plan, research and write one.

3. Activity — 15-30 minutes

(Two activity options are provided, one for beginners and one for advanced or experienced staff or honors students. Beginners may move on to the advanced assignment on a subsequent day.)

Beginners: Continue the slideshow to Slides 13-14 to make the assignment. Ask students to use computers, tablets or phones to find three different Q-and-As from professional news sources, including broadcast sites. Suggest CNN, NPR and morning news programs as well as online magazine sites. Have students read and/or listen, analyze and evaluate the Q-and-As they find.

Assignment: Use Slide 14. Ask students to copy the questions and answer them for each of the Q-and-As they found.

1. List the publication or network that produced the Q-and-A, name of interviewer, name of subject/source, topic of the interview.

2. Compare and contrast live interviews (audio and video) and a printed interview.

3. Evaluate one of the interviews. Is there an effective exchange of questions and answers? Does the interviewer succeed in gathering news of interest and importance?


Closure — 5 minutes: Ask students for feedback on what they found. What worked? What didn’t? Did they receive good information? Assign the questions for homework if it is not completed in class.

Assess based on completion: Three interviews with all questions answered.

Advanced students: Explain to students that they will conduct two Q-and-A interviews: one focusing on a hard news element and the other on soft news, as discussed in the slideshow.

Pass out the handout: Possible topics for Q-and-As.

Pair/share: Ask students to work in pairs or threes and spend a few minutes brainstorming topics that are relevant for their student population. They may use an idea from the handout or one of their own. Circulate and ask each pair to quickly share ideas.

Once students have ideas, instruct them to map out a plan that includes their sources, questions and deadlines for conducting the interview, transcribing the interview and writing the story. Allow use of computers, tablets and phones for research.

Assessment: Ask students to write down their two Q-and-A ideas on an index card and turn it in as an exit card.

Allow up to two weeks to finish this assignment.


Check in – 15 minutes. Schedule this for the following week for advanced assignment or the next class period for beginner assignment.

Beginners: Collect the Q-and-A evaluations. Continue to the advanced assignment at teacher option, perhaps modifying to require only one Q-and-A to be completed. If necessary for reinforcement or reteaching, use the handout Student examples: Q-and-A interview.

Another option would be to ask students to use online resources like and sites hosted by School Newspapers Online or their classroom exchange materials of publications from other schools to find student examples of Q-and-A stories.

Advanced: Check in with students to see how their Q-and-A interviews are progressing and answer any questions. Student editors and the teacher should circulate and check the questions to be sure that students are asking open-ended questions that reflect research.

DAY 3 – Deadline day for advanced assignment only.

Student editors should check to see that all Q-and-As are turned in on deadline.

Use the Q-and-A rubric to assess the interviews.


This lesson is divided into activities for beginners and advanced students. The number and frequency of interview assignments can vary according to experience and ability.