Lesson Plans from The Learning Network: NY Times

Year-End Roundup, 2015-16 | All Our Lesson Plans, All in One Place


Kathryn Rosnau, a member of this year’s <a href="http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/05/05/introducing-the-final-projects-from-our-teenage-student-council/">Student Council</a>, reads The Times as a regular part of her homeschooling, and <a href="http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/20/reader-idea-a-home-schooled-teenager-on-learning-with-the-times/">wrote about it</a> for the blog.
Kathryn Rosnau, a member of this year’s Student Council, reads The Times as a regular part of her homeschooling, and wrote about it for the blog.Credit Kathryn Rosnau
Lesson Plans - The Learning NetworkLesson Plans - The Learning Network


Teaching ideas based on New York Times content.

At the end of every academic year, we collect all the lesson plans we’ve published and list them in a kind of directory for teachers.

Below, you’ll find our 2015-16 offerings, but to scroll through all our roundup posts since 2010, just click here.

This year, we also featured a number of experimental educational features beyond our traditional lesson plans. Though they are not included in the lists below, you can find them here:

Happy summer, and let us know what topics you’d like us to take on in academic year 2016-17.

English Language Arts

Literature and Poetry


Harper Lee, 1926- 2016

Harper Lee, whose first novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” about racial injustice in a small Alabama town, sold more than 40 million copies, died at the age of 89.

By JOHN WOO, NEIL COLLIER and MONA EL-NAGGAR on Publish DateFebruary 19, 2016. Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images.

Teaching ‘Mockingbird,’ ‘Watchman’ and Harper Lee With The New York Times

Text to Text | ‘Antigone’ and Noche Flamenca’s ‘Antigona’

Text to Text | ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’ and ‘On the Reservation and Off, Schools See a Changing Tide’

Reader Idea | Reading ‘Macbeth’ Through the Lens of Ferguson

What’s Going On in This Poem? | ‘Taking It Home to Jerome’

What’s Going On in This Poem? Exploring Poetry Through Open-Ended Questions

I Remember: Teaching About the Role of Memory Across the Curriculum

Literacy Skills and Strategies


What can you infer from this photo?
What can you infer from this photo?Credit Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Skills and Strategies | Making Inferences

Skills and Strategies | Annotating to Engage, Analyze, Connect and Create

Skills and Strategies | Fake News vs. Real News: Determining the Reliability of Sources

Skills and Strategies | Understanding Plagiarism in a Digital Age

Skills and Strategies | Doodling, Sketching and ‘Mind Mapping’ as Learning Tools

Skills and Strategies | Exit Slips

Before, During and After: Strategies From Our News Q’s Feature for Reading Nonfiction

Skills and Strategies | The Four-Corners Exercise to Inspire Writing and Discussion

8 Compelling Mini-Documentaries to Teach Close Reading and Critical Thinking Skills

Reader Idea | An Argument-Writing Unit: Crafting Student Editorials

Thinking Critically: Reading and Writing Culture Reviews




Free DVD #with Malala


Students Stand DVD Giveaway Program


Teachers, inspire your students to become activists.

Thanks to our generous funders, the Students Stand #withMalala program is expanding to provide teachers across the United States with free He Named Me Malala DVDs.

If you are a teacher in the United States and want to bring Malala’s story into your classroom, please sign up below to receive your free He Named Me MalalaDVD and education license, and check out the many ways you can get involved with the Students Stand #withMalala campaign using the links below!



NY Times: Vocabulary Contest Winners

A Way With Words: Winners of Our 2016 Vocabulary Video Contest

link: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/a-way-with-words-winners-of-our-2016-vocabulary-video-contest/?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ln_20160317&nl=learning-network&nl_art=0&nlid=72940163&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

One of the Top 10 videos sent in for our contest, this one, by Erika Kluge, defines killjoy.

Nearly 800 witty entries from around the world made judging this year’s Vocabulary Video Contest harder than ever. We and ourVocabulary.com colleagues struggled mightily to choose from among the many creative killjoys, curmudgeons and comeuppancesto crown just 10.

Below you’ll find our top choices, as well as a long list of runners-up and honorable mentions. As always, we chose based chiefly on how well or originally each video showed an understanding of the word and its use in a specific context, and, as always, we were sticklers for the rules. (However, this year, as you’ll see, we’ve also created a special category because two videos missed winning only by failing to follow every rule to the letter.)

Thank you to everyone who participated, and, especially, to the teachers who devoted class time to the project. If you’re interested in writing for our Reader Idea column about how you wove the contest into your curriculum, please fill out this form.

Enjoy. We certainly did.

Top 10 Winners

Killjoy by Erika

Curmudgeon by Reese Dekker and Ellie Sullivan

Finesse by Eric, Jose and Parker

Monotony by Masa Kawasaki

Equinox by Caroline Knight

Comeuppance by Cassie and Jason

Guffaw by Meghan O.

Pry by Mark C.

Disheartened by Ella Stack, Henry Stack, Josie Robins and George Stack (dog)

Iridescent by Hanna and Millie


Hallucination by David WARNING: has inappropriate content

Coincidence by Anna

Quack by Kyle

Buffoonery by Emily Willett, Serahn Berman, Hana Dolan and Diya Mehta (Kelly)

Mimicry by Priya and Ananya

Braggadocio by Jeremiah Taylor

Ominous by Janelle Mendoza

Disembark by Jessica

Disembark by Madeline Conger, Abby Hughes, Madison Carr, Brittany Banner, Mckenzie Fretwell and Emily Menesses

Tessellation by Vasista Vovveti

Dapper by Ty Kennedy

Pugnacity by Campfield Heinrich

Honorable Mentions

Crescendo by Taylor W.

Narcissist by Jennifer Mula and Katie Shell

Waffle by Kellsie Giras

Wanderlust by Jordan

Killjoy by Adelaide Tornyenu

Sloth by Riley, Gretchen and Barbara

Unison by Nicole Lough

Corrosive by Nathan Campbell

Touchy by Ariel

Dismember by Cayla and Melinda

Strut by Charlotte Smith

Dislodge by Sarah S., Henry S.

Clamor by Alexis, Ashley, and Lilly

Ominous by Katie Williams

Knell by Shelby, Anna, Tatum and McKenna

And Two We Loved That Would Have Won if Only They Had Obeyed Our Rule to Pronounce the Word…

Elixir by Emma

Tessellate by Eliza Robinso



‘The Giver’ Director Admits Color In First Trailer Was ‘An Error’

When the first trailer for “The Giver” arrived in March, fans of Lois Lowry’s 1993 young-adult dystopian novel were confounded by its lack of black and white. In the book, members of the Community — a sanitized society that doesn’t experience emotions or pain — see no color. But the trailer came with every hue you’d expect from today’s dystopian-happy movie landscape.

“That first teaser trailer was put out by the publicity department without real consultation with us,” director Phillip Noyce (“Patriot Games,” “Salt”) told HuffPost Entertainment. “Even if they had consulted with us, without thinking as a filmmaker, I might have said, ‘Oh, that’s in color, okay. I guess that’s the best way to sell the movie, even though it’s not entirely in color.’ It was an error. It doesn’t reflect our interpretation of the novel. It doesn’t reflect the movie.”

As Noyce’s comments indicate, fans’ fears have been allayed. The second trailer, which premiered earlier this month, featured the black and white that was previously missing. Those few months in between, however, were patchy for “Giver” purists, who cried out in anguish at the thought of the middle-school staple not satisfying their recollections.

“It was an oversight,” Noyce said. “I don’t think anyone realized quite how protective fans of the book might be to that concept of restricted perception. I was amused by all the controversy in a way because I knew that wasn’t how the film was shot or how it would be released. So it didn’t really worry me, I suppose, on the basis that I knew eventually the right trailer would come out. And I guess all publicity, to a certain extent, is good publicity. It quick-started a lot of chatter. In [the studio’s] defense, they were thinking, ‘Oh, well, if the movie’s coming out in summer, then if the expectation is that it’s in black and white, there will be all sort of pre-judgments about what kind of movie it is.”

“The Giver” stars Australian actor Brenton Thwaites as Jonas, who is selected as the sole recipient of knowledge the rest of the Community isn’t privy to. The Giver, played by Jeff Bridges, is who feeds him such information. The movie fits squarely with the abundance of dystopian flicks to hit theaters in recent years. “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” have led the YA charge, all three basking in monstrous box-office grosses. On the more adult-oriented front, everything from “Cloud Atlas” and “Elysium” to “Never Let Me Go” and even this month’s “The Rover” are just some of the titles that have embraced the end of civilization as we know it.

Noyce says the onslaught of alternative-society stories owes a debt of gratitude to Lowry, who offered a more philosophical approach to similar tales now being told on the big screen. Regardless, he wasn’t fixated on avoiding any particular tropes that have emerged among the genre’s staples.

“We were following a book which is very much an encyclopedia of ideas,” Noyce said. “In sticking to the book but also in consulting Lois Lowry in all stages of scripting, planning, designing and even editing — even in post-production, Lois has been a couple of times to see the film and give her comments — we felt that we had as the basis for our movie something that everyone else copied, but they could never get to the essence of what Lois was doing … It will provide a different sort of entertainment for people who have already seen all those that copied her.”

It’ll also provide entertainment for anyone anxious to see Taylor Swift. The 24-year-old singer, who appeared in 2010’s “Valentine’s Day” and voiced Audrey in 2012’s “The Lorax,” portrays Rosemary, The Giver’s daughter. Longstanding “Giver” fans may recall that Rosemary does not actually appear in the book (instead, The Giver talks about her during Jonas’ training), so the exact nature of Swift’s casting has been enigmatic. She popped up in the first trailer, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot, and received her own character poster alongside stars Thwaites, Bridges and Meryl Streep, but that’s essentially all we’ve known of her role.

“The book where Rosemary is talked about and the film are pretty much the same,” Noyce explained. “It’s just that we flash back to what [The Giver is] talking about. She doesn’t have a part in the present-day story. The Giver takes us back to his relationship and what happened to her through a short flashback scene, so Rosemary is not an ongoing character in the film. But she has an ongoing presence because the road that she went down is the road we hope our new Receiver doesn’t follow, where pain became too great and what she was being exposed to led to her demise. She was one of the people that The Giver lost because of the way he trained her, so now he has a new Receiver he’s training. Will he take him down the same path? She’s constantly being referred to and is a constant presence throughout the movie, but as in the novel, it’s from the past.”

“The Giver” opens Aug. 15.