Pulitzer Center Update

Our Top Ten Global News Lessons of 2017

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Students at the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School, which is housed in a new brick-and-steel complex. In a class of ten- and eleven-year-olds, one boy asked, “Why is America trying to provoke a war with us?” Image by Max Pinckers/The New Yorker. North Korea, 2017.

Students at the Pyongyang Orphans’ Secondary School, which is housed in a new brick-and-steel complex. In a class of ten- and eleven-year-olds, one boy asked, “Why is America trying to provoke a war with us?” Image by Max Pinckers/The New Yorker. North Korea, 2017.

Throughout the year, the Pulitzer Center education team and our community of educators create K-12 and university curricula-aligned lesson plans based on our grantees’ reporting projects. Too often, the pressing stories they tell disappear in the crowded, market-driven news cycle. We partner with educators to ensure the issues that matter stay at the forefront of students’ minds, sparking discussions about international stories and how journalists report on them.

In 2017, we published 55 lesson plans, launched a newly designed lesson builder, and reached students across the United States and beyond through classroom visits, assemblies, and Skype sessions with team members and journalists.

As we draw this year to a close and plan for the one approaching, we present our top ten lesson plans of 2017, selected by our education team to encapsulate diverse subjects and geographies. Through major headlines and critical under-reported stories, these lessons explore some of the defining themes of the year that are sure to carry over into 2018.

1. Planning Like a Journalist

A boy stands in the village of al Ghayil in Yemen where U.S. Navy SEALs, attack helicopters, and drones launched an operation on January 29. Image by Iona Craig. Yemen, 2017.

A boy stands in the village of al Ghayil in Yemen where U.S. Navy SEALs, attack helicopters, and drones launched an operation on January 29. Image by Iona Craig. Yemen, 2017.

A boy stands in the village of al Ghayil in Yemen where U.S. Navy SEALs, attack helicopters, and drones launched an operation on January 29. Image by Iona Craig. Yemen, 2017.

In a year marked by distrust in and hostility toward the media, Iona Craig embodies brave, transparent journalism. Her project tells the important story of the war in Yemen while also taking us through her reporting process, showing us what a good journalist does and why it matters. In this lesson, students discuss the importance of international journalism to a U.S. audience and consider the planning and precautions that go into responsible reporting.

2. Toxic Business: Pollution, Industry, and Health in India

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A girl walks past the shells of computer monitors that have been stripped of valuable wire and metals, but which can still bring a small payment from a plastics recycler. Many residents in her village, Sangrampur, are involved in the e-waste trade. Image by Sean Gallagher. India, 2014.

A girl walks past the shells of computer monitors that have been stripped of valuable wire and metals, but which can still bring a small payment from a plastics recycler. Many residents in her village, Sangrampur, are involved in the e-waste trade. Image by Sean Gallagher. India, 2014.

From controversies over the Paris Agreement to harrowing natural disasters, 2017 was filled with difficult environmental news. This lesson challenges students to make clear local connections between the products they consume and global implications of resultant pollution.

3. Visualizing Post-Chavez Venezuela

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A National Police officer behind a riot shield is pushed backward by a crush of demonstrators during the March of the Empty Pots in Caracas in 2014, which coincided with International Women’s Day. Image by Natalie Keyssar. Venezuela, 2014.

A National Police officer behind a riot shield is pushed backward by a crush of demonstrators during the March of the Empty Pots in Caracas in 2014, which coincided with International Women’s Day. Image by Natalie Keyssar. Venezuela, 2014.

Natalie Keyssar’s stunning photojournalism provides a window into the political turmoil in Venezuela, an ongoing crisis that made headlines all year long. This lesson asks students to flex their visual literacy and writing muscles to learn more about this issue and how images can be used to tell a story.

4. Refugees: Children of No Nation

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Taimma Abazli, 24, holds her new baby Heln in their tent at the Karamalis camp in Thessaloniki. Image by Lynsey Addario for TIME. Greece, September 2016.

Taimma Abazli, 24, holds her new baby Heln in their tent at the Karamalis camp in Thessaloniki. Image by Lynsey Addario for TIME. Greece, September 2016.

Stories of migration and refugees fade in and out of the headlines. Most students know the basic outline, but for many, the experiences feel far removed. This lesson presents a series of research, writing, art, and community service activities to choose among to help bring these critical stories home for students, supported by reporting from award-winning journalists and photographers.

5. Terrorism and Tourism in the Maldives

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A resort near Male, the capital of the Maldives, where growing Islamic radicalization has highlighted security concerns at resorts. Image by Kai Schultz. Maldives, 2017.

A resort near Male, the capital of the Maldives, where growing Islamic radicalization has highlighted security concerns at resorts. Image by Kai Schultz. Maldives, 2017.

This lesson allows students to take a pragmatic approach to the heated topic of terrorism. Students explore both the consequences of and ways to combat the problem through their engagement with Kai Schultz’s reporting project on terror in paradise.

6. Visualizing Gun Violence

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A double-exposed photo shows the Rev. Jesse Jackson at a news conference about the shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton. Image by Carlos Javier Ortiz. Chicago, 2013.

A double-exposed photo shows the Rev. Jesse Jackson at a news conference about the shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton. Image by Carlos Javier Ortiz. Chicago, 2013.

With gun violence at the forefront of many students’ minds and lives, Carlos Ortiz’s gripping multimedia project offers a path into discussing this complicated issue in the classroom. Students can make immediate local-global connections between stories of young people affected by violence in Chicago and Guatemala. In this lessons, students curate photo essays and produce policy recommendations to reduce local violence.

7. The Journalist Ambassador: Reporting from North Korea

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Commuters reading the official newspaper on a Pyongyang Metro platform. Image by Max Pinckers/The New Yorker. North Korea, 2017.

Commuters reading the official newspaper on a Pyongyang Metro platform. Image by Max Pinckers/The New Yorker. North Korea, 2017.

“To go between Washington and Pyongyang at this nuclear moment is to be struck, most of all, by how little the two understand each other,” Evan Osnos writes in his New Yorker story. Amidst the heightened rhetoric and fear that surrounds news of North Korea, Osnos’ reporting provides a level-headed look at the politics and psychology of nuclear escalation.  This lesson asks students to debate the role of journalists in crises and to develop original reporting projects of their own.

8. Widowhood and Women’s Rights

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The exuberance of Holi, the holiday that includes flinging colored powders, was until recently thought inappropriate for widows. Aid groups, defying traditional prejudices against widows, now invite them to join celebrations like this Holi party in Vrindavan. Image by Amy Toensing. India, 2016.

The exuberance of Holi, the holiday that includes flinging colored powders, was until recently thought inappropriate for widows. Aid groups, defying traditional prejudices against widows, now invite them to join celebrations like this Holi party in Vrindavan. Image by Amy Toensing. India, 2016.

An under-reported story with global span, the project “A World of Widows” shines a light on a large, often overlooked population. This lesson allows students to experience, evaluate, and connect with the story through text, photography, and video.

9. The Paradise Papers: Understanding Offshore Activities

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ICIJ's global investigation that reveals the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies.

ICIJ's global investigation that reveals the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies.

The Paradise Papers became one of the year’s biggest stories and one of the largest investigative journalism projects in history, documenting how political leaders, businesspeople, and the wealthy elite around the world use offshore entities to avoid taxes and cover up wrongdoing. This lesson introduces students to the complex legal and financial structures involved in offshore dealings in a simple, highly interactive way using games, animations, and extension activities.

10. Text + Context in Blue Sky Days

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“Baseball practice in Montgomery County, Maryland. According to records obtained from the FAA, which issued 1,428 domestic drone permits between 2007 and early 2013, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Navy have applied for drone authorization in Montgomery County.” Image by Tomas van Houtryve. United States, 2014.

“Baseball practice in Montgomery County, Maryland. According to records obtained from the FAA, which issued 1,428 domestic drone permits between 2007 and early 2013, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Navy have applied for drone authorization in Montgomery County.” Image by Tomas van Houtryve. United States, 2014.

Tomas van Houtryve’s “Blue Sky Days” project uses aerial photography to examine ideas about drone strikes, surveillance, and media representation. This lesson encourages students to think both creatively and critically about van Houtryve’s photographs, the images they see in their everyday lives, and how they use those images to make judgements about the world. The lesson was written by artist-educator Diana Greene as part of a photojournalism project she facilitated with middle school students in Winston-Salem, NC in fall 2016. Greene later partnered with Pulitzer Center to create the documentary film Weaving Connections with high school students at RJ Reynolds High School as part of our NewsArts initiative.