A few days ago I posted about a great New York Times interactive called “The Year on Page 1.”

I had written a lesson plan about it for my monthly NY Times post, but there just wasn’t room to include it there.

So they gave me permission to publish it here. I hope you find it useful — I’ll be trying it out next week:

Reviewing Last Year

Show students The Times’ interactive feature The Year On Page 1.  The front pages from forty-two  particularly memorable days during 2012 are shown, and readers are invited to share one or more words demonstrating how each one makes them feel now, or how it made them felt on the original day.

Tell students that you are going to briefly display each (or a selection) of the front pages on the classroom’s computer projector.  Ask students to pick three that they will react to in writing.  In addition to sharing a word or two about how it makes them feel, students are to also give a reason why they chose those word(s) and to make a connection with a personal  experience, another text, or other knowledge.

The teacher could give them this example (and could make it even more simple for Beginning English Language Learners):

Reading about Neil Armstrong’s death made me feel sad, but also excited at what he accomplished.  It reminds me about NASA sending the Curiosity Rover to Mars.  If Neil Armstrong hadn’t lived, maybe we wouldn’t be exploring Mars now.

Students can share what they wrote with a partner, and the teacher can invite a few students to share with the entire class.  Afterwards, students could be shown what other Times readers wrote about some of the pages.  If students has access to individual computers, they can also add their own words to the interactive feature itself.

Afterwards, teachers could “localize” or “internationalize” it further by doing the same activity with front pages from different areas found at The Newseum.

In addition, the teacher can add another higher-ordering thinking activity to the lesson by using categorization.   The interactive feature lets readers classify the front pages into nine categories.  Teachers can show select front pages to the entire class as well as the list of categories, and then ask students to write down what it’s appropriate category is and why (in the best of all worlds, teachers would have enough small whiteboards for each student or ones they should share in pairs).