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Writing a preview story


This is a lesson on how to write a news story about an event that will take place in the future with the goal of informing readers who might want to attend or participate. Student media provide a service to readers when they go beyond reporting on events that have already happened to inform them about events that will happen in the future. Based on their understanding of the 5W’s and H and the inverted pyramid form, students will write a news story about a school or community event that will take place in the future.


  • Students will use a beat system or other news-gathering plan to identify a newsworthy event of interest to readers that will take place within the next month.
  • Students will gather information through interviewing appropriate sources and conducting research on the Internet as necessary.
  • Students will use facts and quotes they have gathered to write an inverted pyramid story that follows the example provided in the Preview Story Example handout.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
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.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.11-12.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1d 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.9-10.2 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.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.


Two class periods, one for news-gathering activities and interviews and one for the writing and editing process.


Handout: Preview story example

Information from school daily announcements, school calendar, posters around campus

Handout: News writing rubric

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1

1. Tap prior knowledge — 10-15 minutes

Ask students to brainstorm a list of reasons why people might read the local newspaper or look at a local news website rather than turning to national news sources. During the discussion students will identify a number of reasons, including the fact that people read local newspapers and news sties to find out about activities or events they might be interested in attending or participating in.

2. Present the assignment — 10-15 minutes

Provide each student with a copy of the preview story example handout. Ask students to read the handout and to explain how it follows the inverted pyramid model for news writing.

3. Interview questions and research — 25 minutes

Have students use their beat system or school announcements/calendar to identify an event or activity that will take place in the the next three to four weeks. Then have them identify possible sources to interview and work on interview questions.

4. Homework

Students should conduct interviews with the sources they identified and do any internet research about past events.

Day 2

1.  Write a first draft

Using the information gathered from interviews and internet research, students will follow the preview story example to write an inverted pyramid preview story for their event.

2. Revise the story

After finishing a first draft, have students use the AP Stylebook to edit for names, dates, times and addresses. Students can meet with editors or in peer editing groups to revise their drafts. Have students prepare final drafts for submission for publication.


Use the news writing rubric to evaluate preview stories.