How to Use The Learning Network – The New York Times

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Since 1998, The Learning Network has been helping people teach and learn with The New York Times. Here’s how to use our features.
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Welcome to The Learning Network. Here are four quick facts about our site:
The Learning Network publishes hundreds of teaching resources each school year, including lesson plans, writing prompts, quizzes, films and contests. These resources all use content from The New York Times — articles, essays, images, videos, graphics and podcasts — as teaching tools across subject areas.
Our regular daily and weekly features run from September through May, with special resources published throughout the summer.
Our intended audience is middle and high school teachers and students (age 13 and up). That said, we know that our content is also used in elementary schools and colleges, and much of it is appropriate for both.
All of our resources are free — and everything we link to in The Times is free as well. You do not need a Times subscription to use our site.
We’d love to hear more about you and how you use our site. If you want to join our community of educators and keep up with what’s new, bookmark our home page, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or get our free weekly newsletter. Any questions, concerns or suggestions? Please write to us at or post a comment.
Lesson Plans (Several each week)
Each week we create fresh lesson plans based on Times journalism and covering topics taken from across sections like Sports, Science, the Arts, Technology, Food, Politics and both the National and International reports.
Our lessons begin with a warm-up activity to engage students, then generally segue into questions for reading and discussion based on a featured article. Finally, we offer “going further” projects that encourage students to think more deeply about the subject.
We hope these lesson plans offer an easy way to bring current events into the classroom; spur discussion on important news topics; expand students’ worldviews; address media and news literacy; and offer opportunities for critical thinking about the issues and ideas of the day.
Teaching Ideas
In addition to our lesson plans — intended to be used over one or two class periods — we regularly publish special teaching resources that invite deeper inquiry. These include collections focused on complex issues in the news such as race and racism, voting rights and democracy, the war in Ukraine, the role of the Supreme Court and more. They also include our popular mentor text lessons that encourage students to emulate the excellent writing of both Times journalists and the teenage winners of our contests. Also in this section you’ll find ideas from classroom teachers across subject areas who use The Times in imaginative and effective ways. If you teach with The Times, we invite you to submit yours!
Student Opinion Questions (Daily)
Every school day we post a fresh question that draws from a Times article we think teenagers will be interested in discussing. Teachers tell us it is a good opportunity to help their students practice writing for an authentic audience since our comments section is open to young people around the world. We try to publish a lively mix of topics: If we ask students about a serious topic like gun violence or mental health one day, we may post a piece about TikTok trends or a favorite item of clothing the next. All our questions are open to comment indefinitely, and all comments are moderated by our staff.
Picture Prompts (Tuesday-Friday)
These short, accessible, image-driven prompts include both photographs and illustrations, and invite a variety of kinds of writing. Each prompt links to a related Times article, but the only things students need to start writing are the image and the short questions we use to introduce it.
Current Events Conversation (Weekly on Thursdays)
Each week we publish a roundup of our favorite student comments on our writing prompts, and we hear from teachers across the country and around the world about how excited their students are to see their names and writing celebrated in The New York Times.
Word of the Day (Daily)
Each day we define a new vocabulary word, show how it was used in a recent Times article, and invite students to write a sentence using the word and post it in the comments.
Student News Quizzes (Monthly)
We publish 10 news quizzes each school year: eight monthly quizzes, plus our special summer and end-of-year current events quizzes. These interactive features test students about the biggest news stories of the month and year, give additional context about each event, include questions about news literacy, and show how students stack up against other participants.
Vocabulary Quizzes (Monthly)
Students can test their vocabulary and reading comprehension via our monthly quizzes that are based on student-friendly Times articles about topics like animals, social media trends and pop culture.
Geography Quizzes (Monthly)
Our special country quizzes, all based on Times reporting, photos and videos, test students’ geography skills and encourage them to explore the culture, economy, history and environment of regions around the world.
What’s Going On in This Picture? (Weekly on Mondays)
Every Sunday night we post an intriguing photograph without its caption and ask students to think critically about what they see. On Mondays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time, we host a live, moderated student discussion with our partner organization, Visual Thinking Strategies. Students continue to comment all week, and on Thursday afternoons we reveal the “back story” about the photo and what it depicts.
Film Club (Weekly on Tuesdays)
Each week we feature a short documentary film from The Times — most are under 10 minutes — and ask students to think about themes like race and gender identity, technology and society, civil rights, criminal justice, ethics, and artistic and scientific exploration. We think these films will inspire powerful conversation, and we invite students to begin those conversations on our site.
What’s Going On in This Graph? (Weekly on Wednesdays)
This feature invites students to wonder about a Times graph, map or chart. With our partners at the American Statistical Association, we host a live, moderated discussion on Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time, and publish additional background about these graphs on Thursday afternoons — about the same time we publish a new graph for the coming week.
Contests (Monthly year-round)
Our contests invite students to take the skills they learn in school and use them to create for an authentic audience. For each contest we provide teachers and students with supporting materials, such as lesson plans and past winning submissions. So far we’ve announced four contests for the 2022-23 fall semester:
100-Word Narrative Writing Contest
Coming of Age in 2022: An Image Contest for Teenagers
Review Contest
One-Pager Challenge
We’ll announce our spring lineup later this year. Visit our contest calendar for details, deadlines and eligibility requirements.
Accessible Activities (Several each week)
Looking for accessible multimedia and text to get students thinking critically about the world while practicing their reading and writing skills? Each week we highlight several activities from all of the resources listed above that we think are particularly accessible for emerging readers. Use them as warm-ups or main activities — or access our growing library to find the activities that best connect to your curriculum.


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