Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Learning Network: A Wonderful Source of Nonfiction Teaching Ideas and Materials

Are you interested in getting something for nothing? Read on. In my last post, I featured, an excellent source of teaching ideas and materials that incorporate primary sources. Today's post features another great website with enough high quality free material to make a your heart sing. Both websites will help you incorporate Common Core standards in your teaching.

Today's website is The Learning Network: Teaching and Learning with The New York Times. You can find it at To get an overview of this site, begin by reading "Twelve Ways to Use The Learning Network Blog This School Year" at Here you will find a link to a short video that provides an overview of the entire website, an invitation to sign up for a weekly e-mail newsletter, and a description of twelve features you can use, with links to each one. Are you interested in Common Core-aligned lesson plans? Ideas for teaching vocabulary? A place to get you and your students published?
Poems paired with New York Times articles? Activities to use with the daily newspaper? These things are all a click away. Wow!

In this post I highlight Common Core Practice, a weekly feature found at this site at Although this feature is designed for high school students, many of the ideas can be adapted for younger students. Each week three different writing tasks are provided--narrative, argumentative, and expository--all connected to CC standards. Each task is based on material from The New York Times, which you can freely access. In addition, there is a three-part lesson addressed to students:
1. Your Task: A clearly written, engaging challenge for student writing
2. Before You Do This Task, You Might...: Helpful prewriting activities
3. Extension Activities: Ways to further investigate the topic and the task
Not only are students reading The New York Times, they are applying current information in their writing. This is challenging and meaningful.

There are also a number of CCSS-related activities for younger students. A good place to begin is with "Great Ways to Teach Any Day's Times" at's-times. Here you can access a collection graphic organizers, games and fun, discussion starters, word play activities, and a collection of maps to fill in.

Common Core State Standards provide us with rigorous goals, but it's up to us to design the curriculum for meeting these goals. The good news is that there are sources like The Learning Network that can assist us in this process.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for writing about the Learning Network and our Common Core Prompts. We're so glad you liked the prompts; it means a great deal to us. I love your site, btw, great resource! Glad to see others appreciate the need for quality nonfiction in education. Very refreshing!
    Jonathan Olsen