Lesson: News 1: Exploring Web Footprints through the Press Conference News Story

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It is important to assess the prior knowledge of students before embarking on any unit.  This first lesson is designed to help the teacher uncover student conceptions (and misconceptions) about press conferences, what purpose they serve and how they are conducted.  This introduction also provides students a window into a frame of reference for their coming anchor task  It is our hope that the teachers will adjust the remaining lessons in this curriculum as necessary based upon the discussions and activity in this first lesson. 


  • Introduce key concepts of this unit:  press conference, public figure, news story
  • Introduce anchor task 



  • Activity Worksheet 1:  The Public Figure and the Press Conference  
  • Access to the Web



  1. Discuss the question:  “How do reporters get information?”
  2. Discuss the question:  “How do reporters come up with their questions?”
  3. Discuss the question:  "What is a public figure?"
  4. Introduce the idea of a press conference as one way of getting information and discuss the ways reporters might prepare for a press conference. Have students complete Activity Worksheet 1, which will required them to go online and view a press conference.
  5. Introduce the press conference/newswriting curriculum, with a brief outline of the anchor task.  Explain that it will involve inviting someone to be the speaker at the press conference, that students will conduct background on that speaker and questions based on that background, that they will ask those questions at the press conference, and that they will write a news story based on the answers to those questions.




Activity Worksheet 1 could be an in-class or homework assignment, depending on teacher preference.

Assessment Questions:

  • Does the discussion indicate whether students understand where this unit is headed?
  • Was the class able to understand what was happening in the video of the press conference?
  • Do the students understand the purpose of this unit?
  • Do the students understand the general goals of the anchor task?


Connections to Standards:

Teacher Notes:

  • This lesson builds on the Web Search curriculum from Unit 1.
  • You should familiarize yourself with the curriculum goals and anchor task before this lesson.  Much of the information that will help the discussion is in the Appendices.
  • Of particular importance: The strength of this lesson depends on the authenticity of the task.  You are going to need to invite a real person to be the subject of students’ research, questioning and writing.  For practical purposes, you should select a public figure, someone who already is accustomed to the limelight and who is in a current position of power.  Suggestions include your principal or headmaster, a school board member, or a city council member. Some of our best press conferences have been with police chiefs, so put these at the top of your list.  All of these people tend to have busy schedules, so you’re going to want to set a date in advance.
  • Make clear to the class that the upcoming advanced search and newswriting unit will involve them conducting a press conference with a real public figure from their community, and that they will be writing real news stories – that could be published – based on the experience.  (The reality of this experience is an essential part of the assignment. It’s what makes it authentic — not a standard classroom — experience.  And the publishing option at the end of the assignment is what provides authentic assessment.)
  • Some press conferences begin with lengthy comments from the speaker; our primary interest here is having students see the interchange between those asking the questions and the speaker himself/herself. You may want to encourage students to fast forward through opening comments.


Time needed to teach:

2 Weeks


Web search
Reading Activity


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