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Oklahoma Lesson Plan Ideas

You read the newspaper to find out the news of the day. But there’s much more you can do with The Oklahoman print replica and archives in your classroom, especially with new digital-only features such as translating stories into Spanish and other languages. Browse through the following subjects to find ideas on how to use stories in the main section, box scores in the sports section, and even the comic strips in these lesson plans to help boost your students’ literacy and skills!

Ideas Welcomed

Please help us keep the lists growing by sending in your newspaper-related lesson plan. Email us your ideas.

The *asterisk* indicates interdisciplinary lessons that appear under more than one subject.


Track a politician over time and create a portfolio about the person. After a month, give a presentation about the person and what they have done recently in office by acting the part. Or, work in groups to perform skits about how classmates’ characters might interact together, integrating actions the politicians have taken recently. Alternatively, research a famous Oklahoman’s current and/or recent actions and analyze his or her contributions to civic society, sports, the arts, or other area of society the person is known for. Identify the person’s home city or country, and mark on a map the other cities or countries by the selected person’s actions.


Choose a country in another region of the world. Follow the news there for a week. Now imagine you were just elected the president, prime minister or other leader of the area. What action would you take first? Write an essay describing what you would do and why.


Map out five of the countries mentioned in the World pages of The Oklahoman. Look up the capital cities of all the countries. Then figure out the shortest and longest travel routes to travel through every capital city. Use average speeds of travel for air travel – for cities separated by water – and speeds of a car for cities connected by land to figure out how quickly you can travel the shortest route.


Read an editorial about politics or social issues in today’s paper. Write an editorial with an opposing point of view, whether or not you agree.


Select an editorial cartoon. Write a detailed description of what the cartoon is about, background about the issue, and how the cartoonist conveyed his or her point of view artistically. Using the archives, how does this cartoon compare to editorial cartoons from earlier decades?


Look at the “Tuning in” box in the Sports section about game times. It will say something like, “4 p.m. USC vs. Penn State.” But USC and Penn State are in different time zones from each other and from Oklahoma. Find what time zones the teams are from. Then figure out what time the game will begin and, based on the average time a game lasts, what time it will end in each of the teams’ time zones.


Using a marker and individual maps of the U.S., or pushpins and a large wall map of the U.S., mark the hometowns of the teams that played a national sport yesterday. Then answer some of the following questions: Which team traveled the farthest to play its most recent game? Which team is located farthest north? How far would the first-place team have to travel if it played the fourth-place team in its league? In what direction did the last-place team travel for its previous game? How would the teams appear when listed in alphabetical order? Then come up with your own questions about the information in groups, and have student groups answer each other’s questions. You could do a similar activity using datelines of news stories.


Read a story in which a famous figure from Oklahoma is mentioned or quoted. Then use The Oklahoman archives to find out what they were like before they were famous. Find at least five interesting, little-known facts about the person. Write a short report about the findings. Then create a references page with citations from the news stories that were used.


History doesn’t always go back hundreds of years. Use The Oklahoman archives to look up the newspaper on the day of your birth, and every year on that day since you were born. Use descriptive language to compare and contrast everyday items, and develop an overall conclusion about how history has changed since you were born. Create a poster, art project or other presentation to share with the class.


Read classified ads and identify effective and non effective ones. As a class, list characteristics of a good classified ad. Then, individually, rewrite the ones identified as bad classifieds, using no more than the number of words already used in each ad. To expand, write a classified ad that could have been written by a historical figure or a figure in a literary book you are reading.


Use both the print replica and the archives to find stories related to water: where water resources are located in Oklahoma, what disputes exist over them, what legislation affects them, etc. What can you glean from these about the importance and scarcity of water? How is your community affected by the availability of water? How does this change in a period of drought?


Choose a region of the world. Use the archives to trace the region’s history. How has the region changed over the time? What do you think will happen in the region in the future?


Look for stories about politics. What politicians are mentioned? What branches of government do they serve in? Make a chart about how the politicians and their respective branches of government interact.


Choose one or more trial subjects such as Nuremberg or O.J. Simpson and, using the archives, identify each step of the democratic legal process.


Research a favorite sports team to find where the team’s current players are from. Then research where the team’s players were from a decade ago, two decades ago, etc. How have the demographics of teams changed over the years? Why? How else could you identify this type of demographic shift?


Use the archives to visualize how geographic boundaries have changed over time. Limit searches to “pictures,” and include words such as “boundary” as a search term in order to generate search results of maps from years past.


Research your hometown or current place of residence in the archives. What major events happened there when your parents were your age? Your grandparents? What did a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread cost then? How have these events and changes shaped your community now?


Sunshine Week was launched nationally in 2005 and is held every March over the week that includes the date March 15. Sunshine Week promotes dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information (learn more at www.sunshineweek.org). In March, follow stories in The Oklahoman marked with a special icon for sunshine week. Use the archives to read past newspapers from Sunshine Week (browse by date each year back through 2005). Are you surprised by what stories might not be able to be reported if not for open government and freedom of information laws? What open meetings and information available from freedom of information laws exist in your community?

Cars burn a significant amount of fossil fuels every year, which contribute to the greenhouse effect. Car manufacturers are now producing cars that use fuel more wisely as a result. Look at advertisements for car sales and make a list of all the words and phrases used to describe cars’ energy efficiency. Write a persuasive essay convincing people to buy fuel-efficient cars. This should include background information about the greenhouse effect. Use The Oklahoman archives to help research that information by reading older news stories about the environment.


Skim the newspaper for a science-related story. Then write down at least three science facts from the story. Finally, write the first paragraph for a science fiction story based on those facts. A good way to think in that way is to ask a “what if” question based on the facts.


Choose a country in another region of the world. Follow the news there for a week. Now imagine you were just elected the president, prime minister or other leader of the area. What action would you take first? Write an essay describing what you would do and why.


Read an editorial about politics or social issues in today’s paper. Write an editorial with an opposing point of view, whether or not you agree.


Read a story in which a famous figure from Oklahoma is mentioned or quoted. Then use The Oklahoman archives to find out what they were like before they were famous. Find at least five interesting, little-known facts about the person. Write a short report about the findings. Then create a references page with citations from the news stories that were used.


History doesn’t always go back hundreds of years. Use The Oklahoman archives to look up the newspaper on the day of your birth, and every year on that day since you were born. Use descriptive language to compare and contrast everyday items, and develop an overall conclusion about how history has changed since you were born. Create a poster, art project or other presentation to share with the class.


Read classified ads and identify effective and non effective ones. As a class, list characteristics of a good classified ad. Then, individually, rewrite the ones identified as bad classifieds, using no more than the number of words already used in each ad. To expand, write a classified ad that could have been written by a historical figure or a figure in a literary book you are reading.


If you have seen a movie recently, think about how your review would differ from the one that was in the newspaper. Write your own movie review.


Read the comics. Use a dictionary to look up any words you don’t know. Using the oldest archives, can you find words that are not even used anymore?


Read any story. Then write a summary about the main idea and characters.


Create a chart with four columns. In the left column, list the following in separate rows: news story, editorial, opinion column, advertisement, comic strip, and cutline (photo caption). Across the top of the other three columns, list “fact,” “opinion,” and “whose opinion.” Then fill in the chart using the newspaper.


Read a few news stories, and then choose a story that talked about a problem. Identify the cause of that problem. Then write your own story that uses a cause and effect relationship. Is a cause-and-effect relationship always clear?


Identify 10 headlines in today’s paper. Rewrite them so they are complete sentences. To expand, identify the parts of speech in each sentence.


Rewrite a news article from the perspective of the story’s victim or accuser.


Reinforce basic phonics with younger students by conducting searches in the electronic edition for phrases such as “f?n” to find instances of fin, fan and fun, or such as “?ad” to find bad, dad, had, and more.


Read a story. Identify the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” of the story. Discuss as a class why it is important for news stories to include all this information, and why those reasons also make the 5 W’s and the H important to include in all writings.


Find the front page of the March 4, 2008, newspaper of The Oklahoman in the archives and read the story “Hat Act.” “Hat Act” is a news story that, because of its association with Read Across America, was written with the cadence of a Dr. Seuss story. Using this story as an example, have students take a story from today’s newspaper and rewrite it in a poetic or other creative format.

Graph the high and low temperatures in both Celsius and Fahrenheit for a week. Calculate the mean, median, mode and range for each, and the average difference. Discuss what weather changes caused the temperature variances. How do the predictions for future days compare with what actually occurred?


Try graphing less obvious comparables than the temperatures in the weather map. Create a bar graph of the price of cars featured in advertisements, or of homes featured for sale or rent. What other kinds of graphs can you put this information into? What would those graphs tell you that a bar graph cannot?


Map out five of the countries mentioned in the World pages of The Oklahoman. Look up the capital cities of all the countries. Then figure out the shortest and longest travel routes to travel through every capital city. Use average speeds of travel for air travel – for cities separated by water – and speeds of a car for cities connected by land to figure out how quickly you can travel the shortest route.


Look at the “Tuning in” box in the Sports section about game times. It will say something like, “4 p.m. USC vs. Penn State.” But USC and Penn State are in different time zones from each other and from Oklahoma. Find what time zones the teams are from. Then figure out what time the game will begin and, based on the average time a game lasts, what time it will end in each of the teams’ time zones.


Using a marker and individual maps of the U.S., or pushpins and a large wall map of the U.S., mark the hometowns of the teams that played a national sport yesterday. Then answer some of the following questions: Which team traveled the farthest to play its most recent game? Which team is located farthest north? How far would the first-place team have to travel if it played the fourth-place team in its league? In what direction did the last-place team travel for its previous game? How would the teams appear when listed in alphabetical order? Then come up with your own questions about the information in groups, and have student groups answer each other’s questions. You could do a similar activity using datelines of news stories.


Look at advertisements that give original prices and discount values – such as $25 off a $54.95 tune-up, or 30% off a $24 sweater. Calculate the cost of the product or service after the discount. Then, imagine you have $300 or another set amount to spend. Use advertisements to figure out how many things you could buy, and how much more you would have to spend without the discounts. Use The Oklahoman archives to research how much the items cost 5, 10 or 20 years ago. How do the prices and discounts compare to today?


Select a stock listed on the Money & Markets page of the Business section. Follow it for at least a week. Create a graph of its fluctuations, and figure its mean, median, mode and range. Compare your stock’s performance with your classmates’. Which stock did best? Which stock did worse? Track them over a longer period of time, such as a whole semester, and see if the first week remained an accurate reflection of each stock’s long-term performance. Use imaginary money to actually buy and trade stocks over time. Use the archives to compare stocks in each decade.


Locate box scores in the Sports section. Sum the statistics of the games listed to find, as an example, the total number of passing yards completed in all football games the previous day. Graph them. As another example, figure out how far each player ran in a baseball game based on the total number of base hits. Convert this number to meters. The conversion can also be used for rushing yards in football.


Find a recipe in the paper. How much of each ingredient would you need if you doubled the recipe? If you tripled it? How much would you need if you cut the recipe in half?


When a team announces the signing of a player and his or her salary, figure out how much that player makes per game. Then, using the average length of time of a game for that sport, figure out how much does the player will make per hour, per minute and per second.


Calculate how much gas prices fluctuate daily. Graph the results. Use charts to compare how consumer gas prices relate to the price of a gallon of oil.

Graph the high and low temperatures in both Celsius and Fahrenheit for a week. Calculate the mean, median, mode and range for each, and the average difference. Discuss what weather changes caused the temperature variances. How do the predictions for future days compare with what actually occurred?


Read a health story. Draw a picture of the human body and identify the parts the story talks about. What did you learn about how they work?


Look for stories in the Sports section about player injuries. Draw a diagram of the body and indicate what part was injured. Write a summary describing the injury and how it will be treated, according to the story.


Cars burn a significant amount of fossil fuels every year, which contribute to the greenhouse effect. Car manufacturers are now producing cars that use fuel more wisely as a result. Look at advertisements for car sales and make a list of all the words and phrases used to describe cars’ energy efficiency. Write a persuasive essay convincing people to buy fuel-efficient cars. This should include background information about the greenhouse effect. Use The Oklahoman archives to help research that information by reading older news stories about the environment.


Skim the newspaper for a science-related story. Then write down at least three science facts from the story. Finally, write the first paragraph for a science fiction story based on those facts. A good way to think in that way is to ask a “what if” question based on the facts.


Find the section about the sun and moon on the Weather page. Graph the times of the sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset every day for a month. Research or discuss the changes over a month and how you would expect them to change over the course of each of the four seasons.


Use the weather map as a way of teaching how to back into and recreate a project. Enter data daily or weekly into a spreadsheet, and eventually use that data to try to predict the follow day’s or week’s weather information.


Use the conversion of newspapers from print to electronic to discuss environmental impacts of items consumed daily. For newspapers, begin by reading this article for background. Then design a study to compare the environmental impact of different types of news delivery. Then refer to the article at this link, which was accepted for publication in the Environmental Impact Assessment Review Journal as of July 2, 2009, for an actual comparison, which includes less apparent factors such as the impact of the lifetime of the electronic devices used to access electronic editions. After assessing how well you did designing this study, write an outline for a study that could be conducted comparing the environmental impact of other daily consumables.


Use both the print replica and the archives to find stories related to water: where water resources are located in Oklahoma, what disputes exist over them, what legislation affects them, etc. What can you glean from these about the importance and scarcity of water? How is your community affected b the availability of water? How does this change in a period of drought?

Read an editorial about politics or social issues in today’s paper. Write an editorial with an opposing point of view, but write it in a language other than English.


Track a politician over time and create a portfolio about the person. After a month, give a presentation in another language about the person and what they have done recently in office by acting the part. Or, work in groups to perform skits in another language about how classmates’ characters might interact together, integrating actions the politicians have taken recently.


Cars burn a significant amount of fossil fuels every year, which contribute to the greenhouse effect. Car manufacturers are now producing cars that use fuel more wisely as a result. Look at advertisements for car sales and make a list of all the words and phrases used to describe cars’ energy efficiency. How would you say those words and phrases in another language? Write a persuasive essay in that language convincing people to buy fuel-efficient cars. This should include background information about the greenhouse effect. Use The Oklahoman archives to help research that information by reading older news stories about the environment.


Read the comics. Use a dictionary to look up any words you don’t know in English or that you don’t know how to say in another language. Using the oldest archives, can you find words that are not even used anymore?


Read some of the comics in English. Then draw your own comic strip – enough strips to run for a week in a newspaper – narrated in another language.


Translate headlines and/or entire stories into another language. Check the translation against the automatic translation function provided by The Oklahoman’s print replica. Analyze the differences – were they student errors, or errors caused by the automated nature of the online translation? Native speakers can translate stories from their first language – from the translated print replica stories or from http://vivaoklahoma.newsok.com for Spanish-speakers – into English.

Read a health story. Draw a picture of the human body and identify the parts the story talks about. What did you learn about how they work?


Look for stories in the Sports section about player injuries. Draw a diagram of the body and indicate what part was injured. Write a summary describing the injury and how it will be treated, according to the story.


Track a politician over time and create a portfolio about the person. After a month, give a presentation about the person and what they have done recently in office by acting the part. Or, work in groups to perform skits about how classmates’ characters might interact together, integrating actions the politicians have taken recently. Alternatively, research a famous Oklahoman’s current and/or recent actions and analyze his or her contributions to civic society, sports, the arts, or other area of society the person is known for. Identify the person’s home city or country, and mark on a map the other cities or countries by the selected person’s actions.


Select an editorial cartoon. Write a detailed description of what the cartoon is about, background about the issue, and how the cartoonist conveyed his or her point of view artistically. Using the archives, how does this cartoon compare to editorial cartoons from earlier decades?


If you have seen a movie recently, think about how your review would differ from the one that was in the newspaper. Write your own movie review.


Read a comic with multiple panels. Write another panel that would make sense affixed at the end.


Look for pictures of food in the newspaper. List where they belong in the federal government’s recommended food pyramid.


Look through the Features section for stories about art exhibits. Research more about the artist or the genre of art. Create your own art project to convey what you learned.

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