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Investigative Journalism Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan is a tool for helping students learn about investigative journalism. Students will learn about careers in investigative journalism and about some investigative journalists who have made a difference.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson on investigative journalism, students will be able to:

  • Define investigative journalism.
  • Describe the tools used by investigative journalists.
  • Summarize some important examples of investigative journalism.

Length

60 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

Vocabulary

  • corruption
  • expose
  • interpretive reporting
  • investigative journalism
  • leak
  • public records
  • Pulitzer Prize
  • sensitive material
  • undercover
  • watchdog

Materials

  • Copies of the quiz
  • Copies of the lesson
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Access to computer/internet/printer
  • Tape
  • Chart paper
  • Markers

Reading & Discussion

  • Activate prior knowledge by asking students to describe Lois Lane from 'Superman.' Explain that she is a fictitious investigative reporter and that this lesson will teach them more about that job.
  • Discuss the meaning of each of the vocabulary words and encourage students to look at how these words are used in the lesson.
  • Pass out copies of Investigative Journalism: Definition & Examples to the students.
  • Read the first two sections, 'A Career in Investigative Journalism' and 'What is Investigative Journalism?' with students.
    • Enlist the students' help in creating a class definition of investigative journalism and defining some goals of investigative journalists. Write this information on chart paper.
  • Read the 'Resources Investigative Journalists Use' section with students.
    • Add a list of investigative journalism tools to the chart.
  • Have students read the remainder of the article with a partner.
  • Discuss why investigative journalism is an important job and why the founding fathers decided that free press was an important Constitutional right.
  • Pass out the printable worksheet. Have students complete the questions independently, then check the answers together.

Activities

Investigative Journalism Report

Materials needed: paper, pens, copies of lesson, access to computer/internet/printer, tape

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