Pulitzer Center Lesson Builder

The Pulitzer Center Lesson Builder is a digital tool and a supporting community of educators. They provide free lesson plans for teachers and educators, focused on current events and world issues in the news today. View some of the most popular lessons here!

Sample Lesson Plan Themes

All Grades

An empty desk where Baldemar Lucas García Alonzo once sat sits against the wall at the primary school in Bulej, Guatemala. Baldemar left with his father the previous week for the U.S. Image by Simone Dalmasso/The Arizona Daily Star. Guatemala, 2019.

Students will learn about how debt and tougher border enforcement in the U.S. are both contributing to migration, and what the effects are on the community left behind.


Students will be able to evaluate audio and print reporting on the long-term causes and effects of family migration from rural Guatemala in order to research or write about the history and implications of migration to the U.S.

Abdullah Abed al-Abdeli, age 12, whose father died in an airstrike in Northern Yemen. Image by Tyler Hicks/The New York Times. Yemen. 2018.

Students explore reporting on the Yemeni war and consider: What forms can war take, and how does it affect civilians directly and indirectly? How can journalists report on a conflict well?


Students will be able to…

  • define different types of wars and how they apply to the Yemeni conflict
  • identify war’s direct and indirect effects on civilians
  • analyze the purpose and efficacy of narrative and investigative journalism
  • evaluate how the order of a story affects its meaning

At left, 31-year-old Melia attended her first Afropunk event last year in Paris. “It’s nice to meet people from everywhere. It’s another way to look at Africa.” At right, South Africa had its own festival to close out 2017. Image by Melissa Bunni Elian. South Africa, 2017.

Students explore Afropunk as a global social catalyst and consider art and fashion’s relationship to identity, culture, and social movements.


Students will be able to…

  • explain the Afropunk music festival and its role as a social catalyst
  • identify art and fashion’s relationship to identity, culture, and social movements

Documenting Stories of Resilience: Ballet in Brazil’s Favelas  Middle School, High School

A group of young ballerinas from one of the most violent favelas in Rio de Janeiro use dance to strive for a brighter future. Image by Frederick Bernas and Rayan Hindi. Brazil, 2018.Frederick Bernas and Rayan Hindi.

This lesson explores how film is used to tell the stories of young ballerinas in Brazil’s favelas, resulting in art and/or research projects examining resilience.

This lesson examines how film is used to explore the stories of dancers who live in Brazil’s favelas, which are highly populated neighborhoods in the country’s capital city of Rio de Janeiro. The stories were captured as part of a short documentary film by Frederick Bernas and Rayan Hindi for VICE News.

“With an average 20 incidents of weapons fired every day in Rio, last year saw more than 100 police deaths – as well as hundreds more civilians, many of whom are caught in the crossfire of confrontations in their local areas,” write Bernas and Hindi in an article accompanying their film.


  • What do you think is causing violence in the favelas?
  • How could violence in these neighborhood impact the children who live there?
  • How do you think the children will respond to the violence? What actions might they take that demonstrate resilience?


Video Discussion: Exploring Democracy with Formerly Incarcerated People   Middle School, High School, College

Lifeline for Success member Will raises questions about the electoral college. Lifeline is a re-entry program for formerly incarcerated men and women in Memphis, Tennessee. Most members of the community are disenfranchised. Video still by Lorraine A. Ustaris for Andrea Bruce’s Our Democracy project.Lorraine A. Ustaris

Engage students in a dialogue about democracy with photojournalist Andrea Bruce and members of a re-entry program in Memphis, Tennessee.

Through Our Democracy, documentary photographer Andrea Bruce aims to engage audiences in an open study of democracy while also democratizing journalism itself. She hopes to empower individuals who represent today’s biggest changes or challenges to democracy to tell their own stories.

She invites Americans across the country to document democracy’s effects in their own lives and communities and contribute to the project’s Instagram feed @ourdemocracy. She also endeavors to create a multimedia map that showcases this community reportage alongside her own photography over the next two years.

Her project moves to a new location each month. The first city she visited was Memphis, Tennessee, where she spent time with Lifeline for Success, a community of formerly incarcerated men and women.

The following lesson offers ideas for utilizing video documentation of Andrea’s discussion about democracy with Lifeline community members as a means to begin a classroom conversation about incarceration, the American voting system, and the relationship between community and democracy.

Teachers who are interested in challenging students to produce their own journalistic work for Our Democracy can explore this project-based unit: Teaching Journalism through Our Democracy.


Image from the Threshold Podcast.Threshold Podcast

Students will consider the relationship between humans and the natural world through evaluating a podcast, exploring photography, discussion, and writing.


An older miner and a younger boy are chin deep in frigid water 150-meters below the surface as they work a gold mine near Syndicate on the island of Masbate. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.Larry C. Price. Philippines

Independently and collaboratively, students piece together photo puzzles and investigate the stories behind them, all the while considering: Why is it important to seek out the full story?

Image by Sam Eaton from PBS NewsHour. Brazil, 2018.Sam Eaton

Students evaluate two broadcast stories on the battle for land in the Brazilian Amazon in order to craft arguments about how they think land in the Amazon should be used.

Image by Diana Greene and students at The Arts Based School in Winston-Salem, NC. United States, 2018.

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to evaluate how photojournalist Daniella Zalcman communicates interviews with blended photography in order to create their own blended portraits that communicate how their identities are impacted by significant memories.

photographs by Daniella Zalcman

Previous Contests & Workshops

Fighting Words: Poetry in Response to Current Events (Contest & Workshop)  Elementary, Middle School, High School

Jordan Roth