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.


60 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


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


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.


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


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


  • 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.


Investigative Journalism Report

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

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