Lesson plans that teach and engage, no matter which story a student reads
You can use these lesson plans over and over again without being repetitive, because we post new stories, questions and quizzes every day. The lessons may be the same, but the answers will be different because the answers reflect the updated content - it's like getting a new textbook every day!
Each lesson plan includes links to the Common Core standards that apply. These lesson plans are also aligned with Texas STAAR and Virginia SOL. Please note that the number in the Common Core designation does not reflect the grade level. For instance, Common Core R1 applies to all grades (K-12). It is not merely for Grade 1. Common Core standards for specific grades contain two numbers separated by two dots, such as Common Core W.5.1
Seek and ye shall find: "Search" is one of the most important online skills. Meaningful search terms produce high-quality results. Non-specific or general terms produce lots of results that are often useless. For instance, if you are looking for a story about a cat named Bob-bob, you will get better results searching for "Bob-Bob" rather than "cat" because there are fewer stories containing the word "Bob-bob." Using the search box on this site, search for "Bob-bob," then search for "cat" and compare the results. Then ask students to search for specific terms from other recent stories, such as bobsleds built by BMW, a new movie about Abraham Lincoln and man with a bionic leg. Students should report the search terms they used and give examples of search results that were both helpful as well as results that were not pertinent.
Common Core: W6
Take today's quiz: 3 questions on vocabulary, comprehension & critical thinking with automatic scoring.
Comprehension: Read this story: [ insert URL of teacher's choice here ]. Then post an answer to this question: [insert teacher's question here].
Critical thinking: Answer the Critical Thinking Challenge question on this story: [insert URL of teacher's choice here].
Vocabulary: Define the words listed at the bottom of this story: [insert URL of teacher's choice here].
Be a journalist: Find a story that interests you, then answer these five questions about the story: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? Use the following list format for your answers. You do not need to answer in complete sentences:
Prove your point: In one complete sentence, describe the main idea of the story. Then provide three facts that support the main idea you identified.
Calling all pundits, predictors and prognosticators! Find a story that describes an event, phenomenon or trend. Then use your critical thinking and problem-solving skills to make a prediction about what will happen next. Begin your comment with Based on what happened, I predict that…
Online etiquette: Here's a typical headline, followed by an inappropriate response: HEADLINE: Video Games May Ruin Kids' Minds RESPONSE: That's just stupid. What idiot wrote this article? I play video games and I'm just fine thank you very much. Only really dumb, twisted jerks who live in a bubble would think this. JERKS! Explain what makes this response inappropriate, then rewrite to it make it appropriate.
Explaining the 21st century: The world has changed a lot since the 20th century ended in the year 2000. Your are the first generation of the 21st century. Find a story that could not have happened before the year 2000, and explain why it could have only happened in the 21st century - your century. Answer in the form of complete sentences with correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
The impact of technology: Find a story about a new technology, describe the limitations of the previous technology, then explain why the new technology is an improvement. Answer in the form of complete sentences with correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
How stories relates to me: Your experience is a big part of who you are. Find a story that relates to a personal experience in your life, then describe the connection between the story and your personal experience. Answer in the form of complete sentences with correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
What is "news?" Pick a news story that interests you. To be "newsworthy," a story must describe an event that is unique, unusual or unexpected. Explain what makes the story you selected a "news" story. Answer in the form of complete sentences with correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
Use context to build vocabulary: Find a word in a story that you don't know, then try to figure out the meaning from the words around it or use a dictionary. Then explain how you determined the meaning of the word, whether you used context clues or the dictionary. If you had to use the dictionary, explain why you couldn't figure out the meaning from surrounding words. Answer in the form of complete sentences with correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
Civil discourse and its place in our democracy: Sometimes people disagree. But it's OK to disagree as long as we disagree with respect. Find a story that you disagree with, or a story in which something happens that you disagree with. Identify the thing you disagree with and explain why you disagree. For instance, maybe you think it wasn't fair. Answer in the form of complete sentences with correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
Creating meaningful conversation: Everyone should post a comment on this story [ insert URL here ]. Say whether you agree or disagree with what happened in the story and explain why you agree or disagree. Then we'll have a discussion about your comments and opinion.
Be a TV newswriter! Prepare the script of a "newscast" by summarizing three or more stories. Try to choose stories that are related in some way, to create smooth transitions in your script from one story to another – just like newscasters do on TV! Your script should include "cues" to indicate which words should be said with the most meaning and emphasis, and describe the emotion to be expressed by these key words.
Be a tutor: Pretend you are helping another student who is having trouble with reading and vocabulary. Find a story that interests you, then explain it to another student or your entire class. Or rewrite the story using easier words and shorter sentences. Identify the most difficult words in the story, then use other, easier-to-understand words as clues to help your "student" understand the meaning of the more difficult words. Begin the story with a single sentence that conveys the key point of the story. Keep the introductory sentence as simple as possible, even if you need to leave out some detail that appears elsewhere in the story. Use complete sentences with correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
Be a crusader: News stories should be objective and only present facts. But persuasive writing, such as a newspaper editorial, is different. Editorials take a position, and use facts to support the position. Like objective news stories, editorials depend upon facts but then draw conclusions based on the authors belief. Practice persuasive writing by finding a story your care about, then use the facts contained within the story to make a case for your opinion about the facts. Use complete sentences with correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
Be an orator: News stories are meant to be read, but reading is only one way to communicate. Before alphabets were invented or words were written, stories were told orally through conversation or speeches. Telling a story out loud requires different skills and strategies than writing a story on paper or a computer. Find a story that interests you, then rewrite it in the form of a speech that you can deliver to your class. A speech provides opportunites to change the volume and tone of your voice to add emphasis to key points. When you write your speech, use annotations (notes to yourself) to show where to change your expression.
Be a media analyst: Some stories inform. Other stories persuade or entertain. To find the meaning of any text, it's important to understand these differences and determine the intent of the author. Pick a story, then determine the author's goal and intent. You should also identify the intended audience for the story and predict the impact of this story on the intended audience as well as other audiences who may agree or disagree with the author's point of view.
© 2010 Common Core State Standards, published by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, Washington D.C.