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State of the Union Address discussion activities

§ January 27th, 2014 § Filed under Current Events, Elementary School, High School, Middle School, Teacher resources § No Comments

Tomorrow President Barack Obama will deliver the 2014 State of the Union Address. Students can watch the press conference on live television or on the White House live stream, which will include graphics, data, and charts to help explain the issues mentioned. Watch the State of the Union Address streaming live here.

This lesson plan from PBS includes a hand out explaining the history of the State of the Union Address. There is also a worksheet for students to take home Tuesday night. Half the questions are for before the conference is aired, and the other half is analysis questions to complete after Obama’s speech. This lesson is great for social studies, civics, current events, and government classes in grades 7-12.

Don’t forget to check out the Smart Edition this week for analysis and reactions from Boston Herald’s top political reporters. Don’t have the Smart Edition yet? Order here.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month Resources

§ January 20th, 2014 § Filed under Elementary School, High School, History, Middle School, Teacher resources § No Comments

Today we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and we will soon celebrate Black History Month in February.

Today’s Boston Herald features 3 area leaders working to honor King’s legacy: Mayor Marty Walsh, Harriette John, and Pastor William E. Dickerson II. Read the full story on Page 5 of the Smart Edition. Don’t have the Smart Edition yet? Order here.

This learning resource supplement from the NIE Institute and History Channel provides an overview of the American Civil Rights movement. It highlights the times of slavery, Jim Crow laws, the march on Washington, and the election of President Obama. Download the PDF guide here.

Try reading a Serial Story with your class!

§ January 13th, 2014 § Filed under Elementary School, English Language Arts, Middle School, Teacher resources § No Comments

“The Awesome Duo: Jimmy and Jesse and the Sixth Grade Talent Show” by J.R. Dick Fitch is available to NIE teachers as a 15 part PDF download. The packet includes a vocabulary guide and discussion questions with every chapter, and your students will love the suspense of a serial story.

Follow Mrs. Morgan’s sixth grade class as they discuss their individual talents and prepare for a school-wide talent show. As the date of the show draws nearer, the students must work hard to ensure it is a great success.

Download the full PDF here.

Holiday Activities with the Smart Edition

§ December 18th, 2013 § Filed under Current Events, Elementary School, High School, Middle School, Teacher resources § No Comments

There are 3 major holidays happening over winter break. Celebrate this week with these fun activities and the Boston Herald Smart Edition.


The most popular of Christian observances is Christmas, a festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, founder of the Christian faith. Although no one knows the exact date of Jesus’ birth, most Christians celebrate on Dec. 25. Christmas is celebrated throughout the world. In the United States it is one of the most joyous times of the year. People decorate their homes and Christmas trees. They sing Christmas carols, attend church services, send cards, feast with family and friends, and exchange gifts.

Many of the Christmas traditions observed in the United States originated in other countries. In small groups, have students find newspaper datelines for five countries that celebrate Christmas. Then have them conduct research to see if any American Christmas traditions originated in those countries. Allow a spokesperson to report each group’s findings.


Many of the traditions observed by African-Americans today have roots in African culture. The seven-day festival known as Kwanzaa is one of them. This holiday is widely celebrated by African-Americans each year and is based on the traditional African festival of the first crops. M. Ron Karenga first introduced Kwanzaa to the United States in 1966. It combines traditional African practices with African-American ideals. The holiday centers on the Nguzo Saba, seven principles of black culture developed by Karenga. Each evening during Kwanzaa, family members light one of the seven candles in a kinara (candleholder), discuss the principle for that day, and sometimes exchange small gifts. Near the end of the holiday, the community gathers for karamu — a feast of traditional African food.

Ask students to watch the Smart Edition for information about Kwanzaa activities in your community. Have them pick one they would be interested in attending.

New Year’s Day

The custom of celebrating the first day of the year goes back to ancient times when people performed rituals to do away with the past and purify themselves for the new year. In Ancient Rome, for example, people gave each other gifts of branches from sacred trees or coins with pictures of Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings and after whom the month of January was named. In early America, colonists in New England celebrated New Year’s Day by firing guns into the air and shouting, perhaps a precursor to the modern-day custom of making noise to ring in the new year. Today, we celebrate with such rituals as New Year’s Eve parties, visiting friends and relatives, attending religious services, watching football games, and making resolutions.

The New Year is fast approaching. What do you think will be historically the most important things that happened in 2013? Use the Boston Herald Smart Edition to locate stories you think will still matter in 2014 and even further into the future. Based on what you’ve found in your newspapers, what are the five items you most think deserve a spot in a 2013 time capsule? Write an essay to explain your decisions.

The NIE team wishes you you a safe and happy holiday!

Newspaper Activities for Hanukkah

§ November 27th, 2013 § Filed under Current Events, Elementary School, High School, Middle School, Teacher resources § No Comments

Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will fall on the same day tomorrow. This won’t happen again for another 70,000 years! Check out these Hanukkah newspaper activities for your class and keep checking back throughout the month of December for more holiday themed activities!

  • Jewish people observe many traditions during Hanukkah, including eating foods fried in oil, playing the dreidel game, and giving gifts or “gelt” (money) to children. Ask students to compare and contrast Hanukkah to Christmas and other winter holidays. Have them make a comparison chart illustrated with pictures and graphics cut out of the newspaper.
  •  The menorah is a special candle holder that holds nine candles; one for each of the eight days of Hanukkah and a ninth candle called the shamas. The shamas is lit every night and used to light each of the other candles, one each day. Send students on a search for menorahs in newspaper advertisements. Have them make a menorah poster with information about this important Jewish ritual.
  •  Talk with students about how the dreidel game is played. Then have them write a how-to story and discuss games we play in observance of other holidays.

Newspaper Activities for Thanksgiving

§ November 15th, 2013 § Filed under Elementary School, High School, Middle School, Teacher resources § No Comments

Check out these Thanksgiving newspaper activities for your class! And keep checking back into December for more Holiday themed newspaper fun!

  • Talk about food as symbols. For example, Indian corn is often used as decoration during the Thanksgiving season because the Native Americans taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn. The Pilgrims survived their first harsh winter in America thanks to the corn harvest. Illustrate this concept by having students research other Thanksgiving foods to see if they are symbolic. Then have them search newspaper ads for foods that are used to stand for or represent something else. Ask them to share their examples with the class.
  • Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the winter gift-giving season. In fact, the day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. Have students watch the newspaper on the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Have them chart the number of stores that have scheduled after-Thanksgiving sales and specials. Extend the activity by having each student pretend he or she is going on a shopping excursion the day after Thanksgiving. They can “shop” for a specific item(s), comparing prices in the newspaper. Or they can map out their day by pinpointing which stores they want to go to and how to get there. They can do this individually or in small groups.

Don’t have the Smart Edition yet? Order now.

Celebrate Family Literacy Month with a week of newspaper activities

§ November 8th, 2013 § Filed under Current Events, Elementary School, English Language Arts, High School, Journalism, NIE News, Teacher resources § No Comments

November is Family Literacy Month. Celebrate with a week of activities your family can enjoy with the newspaper!

Does your child have access to the Boston Herald Smart Edition? It is an exact copy of the print newspaper available online to local schools. Have their teacher order it here!


Check the Boston Herald’s business section, BizSmart, and find an article relating to technology.



Go to the sports section and read an article together about your family’s favorite local team.


Pick 5 words from the headlines and ask your child to think of a word that rhymes with each one.


Create a game in which each family member gets a point for finding certain letters or words in the paper.



Go through the movie reviews and develop your family’s own rating system for movies viewed at home or in the theater.


Search classifieds ads for a job your child might want to have someday.


Help your child write a practice letter to the editor about a topic of interest.

For Family Literacy events and activities in your area, check throughout the month!


Featured Activity: Political Cartoons

§ October 2nd, 2013 § Filed under Media criticism, Teacher resources § No Comments

Boston Herald

With your class, look at today’s editorial cartoon in the Boston Herald Smart Edition. Then discuss with your students.
  • What is the artist trying to express in this cartoon?
  • How does the artist portray the subject?
  • Do you think the cartoon was effective in expressing the artist’s opinion?
  • How would the same idea differ if it was expressed in words, rather than in pictures?


Hispanic Heritage Month Resources

§ September 18th, 2013 § Filed under Elementary School, High School, History, Middle School, Teacher resources § No Comments

This month we celebrate Hispanic Heritage month. From September 15 to October 15, we  highlight the achievements of Hispanic scientists, artists, musicians, politicians, and more.

Hispanic Heritage Month’s official website has a page devoted to teachers. It lists resources for use in the classroom from the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Art, and more.

The NIE teacher site has new curriculum guides available for download to NIE teachers, including “High Tech Heroes: Hispanic Explorers in Science” a bilingual resource and activity guide that highlights the achievements of Eloy Rodriguez, Ellen Ochoa, Mario Molina, and more. You can download the guide here.

Welcome back to school!

§ September 6th, 2013 § Filed under Computers and Technology, Current Events, Elementary School, High School, Middle School, NIE News, Teacher resources § No Comments

The NIE team hopes you had a safe and wonderful summer. Online access to the Boston Herald Smart Edition begins this Monday, September 9. If you have already received an email with your username and password, please keep in mind that you still won’t be able to log on until Monday.

If you haven’t ordered your classroom copies of the online Smart Edition, order now! If you order 10 or more copies by September 15 you will be entered for a chance to win an iPad mini for your classroom.

Kickoff the school year with Pigskin Geography! The Patriots face off against the Buffalo Bills this Sunday, September 8. NIE teachers have access to this free curriculum guide, which teaches national geography using the NFL football schedule.

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