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Beginner’s In-Class Story Assignment

Penny Schulte
Culver City High School
Culver City, CA

Title: Beginner's In-Class Story Assignment

Overview and Rationale

This lesson can serve as a first story assignment for beginning reporters after they have learned the structure of a basic news story (inverted pyramid) and how to prepare and conduct an interview. Veteran staffers play roles of people involved in a campus incident. Beginning reporters are given the basic story idea and told whom to interview. They must prepare questions for each source, interview each source, and write the story before the end of the period.

Goals for Understanding

The goal for this lesson is for beginning reports to “get their feet wet” by starting to use the tools they have learned thus far. They must understand how to write open-ended questions that will elicit detailed answers. They must listen for quotable material and they must gather all the information need to write a news story in a limited amount of time.

Essential Questions

  • How do you conduct an interview?
  • How do you write a news story?

Critical Engagement Questions

  • What are the elements of a hard news story?
  • How do you obtain these elements for the story?
  • What is an inverted pyramid lead?
  • How are open-ended questions written?

Overviews and Timeline

Beginning reporters are given the assignment at the beginning of the period. Editors playing roles are told in advance and given the information they need to answer the reporter’s questions. Reporters begin by writing questions for their sources. They conduct their interviews. See interview sheet attached. Then they go to the computer to write the story. See attachments.


The student will receive a score for the interview and for the story. See rubrics attached.

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