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Use the Pulitzer Center Lesson Builder to find and create lesson plans on this country.  
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    Invisible Children is now on the frontline of a covert war against the Lord’s Resistance Army in eastern and central Africa. New York-based writer David Gauvey Herbert investigates.

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    The following are lesson plans that have been written using the reporting by journalists that presented as part of the U Chicago Summer Teacher Institute:


    Kathryn CarlsonWidowhood and Women's Rights


    Steve ElfersWorld Water Day
                            The Impact of Disappearing Groundwater in Four Countries
                            Vanishing Groundwater


    Zach FanninCold War Fault Lines
                            Reporting Violence in Kenya and in My Community


    Gary MarcuseReligion and the Environment in China
                               Searching for Sacred Mountain: Religion and Environment in China


    Renaud BrothersWhy They Flee: Understanding the Migration of Minors


    Katherine ZoepfWomen Learning and Practicing Law in Saudi Arabia


    You can print and share lessons using the buttons on the top right of the lesson plan. If you want to look for more lessons, you can use the advanced lesson search.

    Good luck with your lessons!

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    Students will evaluate three interactive journalism projects on the ability to effectively communicate complicated issues in science using data visualization. Using datasets of their choice, they will use the mapping platform CartoDB to design data visualizations that communicate an issue in biostatistics.   

    Warm-up Questions:

    These are intended to have students start thinking about how they receive and disseminate information, what makes learning a stastical science easy, and what makes it difficult.

    Have students think about these questions and discuss in small groups, and have each group share their answers with the class for a larger discussion. On the board, create a chart of key words from their answers to the "why" questions to help visualize major ideas about what works, and what doesn't, in academic writing and presentation. Save the chart. 

    1. What is the most interesting part of biostatistics? Why? What makes it interesting?
    2. What is the most boring part? Why? What makes it boring?
    3. What is your favorite public health issue? Do you think other people care about it? Why or why not?

    Introducing the Lesson:

    Data visualization is a method of displaying data in a way that shows us what the data means instead of telling us. Data visualizations are invaluable tools for conveying scientific data to audiences that may not have a background in science. 

    There are many ways to visualize data, but each has the same objective: to tell a story. 

    The brain scan below uses color to tell us about levels of neural activity. 









    Image of a healthy brain scan. This method of data visualization tells us about levels of neural activity using color. Red areas indicate high levels of neural activity. Blue and purple areas indicate lower levels.
    Healthy brain scan. 



    Data visualization is a research skill that can improve how we communicate complicated issues in science. Data visualizations can be as simple as a graphic, like the one shown above, or as complex as an interactive map, like the one shown here. (Don't spend too much time showing this map, as it will be used in the first activity.)

    The brain scan above quickly relays a complicated concept in biostatistics that makes sense to both scientific and lay audiences.

    This lesson explores various types of data visualizations, how they are built, what stories they tell, and why they are effective at telling them. It also provides a short tutorial showing how to use the software CartoDB and your own biostatistical data to tell a public health story using a map. 

    To warm up, students can view an exclusive interview with Information Designer Dan McCarey, who designed the Cholera Map, one of the three data visualizations profiled in this lesson. 


    I. Questions to Frame Resources

    Begin by playing this video, "Land of Tobacco: China's deadly addiction" from grantee Joanne Silberner's Pulitzer Center-supported project, "Cancer in the Developing World: The Economics of a Disease." The video was produced by grantee Sean Gallagher for PRI's The World. 

    After watching the video, have students answer the following questions.

    1. What do you think is the primary aim of this video? What story is this journalist trying to tell?
    2. What does the journalist use to tell the story?
    3. After watching this video, are you more or less interested in cancer rates in China than you were before class today?

    II. Cancer's Global Footprint

    1. Open the interactive resource for Joanne's reporting: the Global Cancer Map. This map accompanies Joanne's reporting project, mentioned above. Students will be able to familiarize themselves with the map using the questions attached for Resource 1.

    2. Refer to the questions attached for Resource 1. Once you've moved through these, move on to Resource 2.

    III. Roads Kill Map

    1. Begin by opening the Roads Kill Map, part of the collaborative Pulitzer Center-supported project, "Roads Kill."

    2. Refer to the questions attached for Resource 2.

    IV. Mapping Cholera

    1. Begin by opening Mapping Cholera, part of grantee Sonia Shah's Pulitzer Center-supported project, "Cholera: A Tale of Two Cities." 

    2. Walk through the Cholera interactive using the arrows on the screen. 

    3. Refer to the questions attached for Resource 3. 

    Creating Your Own Data Visualization:

    CartoDB is an extremely user-friendly mapping tool. They have multiple tutorials that explain how to use the site's varying functions to produce interactive maps and to adapt functions for the stories students want to tell. 

    Students will either choose their own datasets, or use datasets from the CartoDB library, to design their own interactive map that communicates a public health issue of their choice. 

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    For LGBTQ Ugandans, the infamous 'Kill The Gays' bill brought not only unexpected benefits in the form of foreign funding and support, but also a violent backlash among the general public.

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    This week: The U.S.'s troublesome alliances with African dictators, Pulitzer tackles homophobia through NewsArts, and the true meaning of the Iraqi Kurdish referendum.

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    Epstein's new book exposes how the West—and especially the United States—has contributed to the creation of repressive dictatorships and notorious terrorist groups in Africa.

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    Scientists use algorithms in effort to forecast ground zero for next animal to human disease crisis.

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    Event date: 
    Monday, December 4, 2017 - 17:30

    Journalist Helen Epstein discusses her book on President Yoweri Museveni's greedy involvement with the deadliest conflicts in Central Africa.

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    Three years after courts struck down a “Kill the Gays” law, LGBTQ Ugandans weigh the cost of participating in a society that hasn’t always accepted their right to live.

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    Event date: 
    Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 13:30

    Nicholas Kristof talk on his latest book connects with Boston University Campus Consortium panel on the consequences of malnutrition and efforts to give children a better head start.

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    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Mark Johnson and photojournalist Mark Hoffman traveled to Brazil, Kenya, and Uganda to report on the threat of zoonotic diseases long associated with poverty.


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    “As an activist in Uganda, you wake up everyday and you say, ‘I have not had an attack.’ That is a blessing.”

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  • 12/19/17--11:24: Outrage and Inspire
  • Roger Thurow shares stories of hunger across the world in a new podcast produced in collaboration with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

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    A look at how the Ugandan LGBTQ community—made refugees in their own countries because of their sexuality—build lives of beauty and resilience.

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    This International Women’s Day, this Women’s History Month, and all the year beyond, let’s use our classrooms to highlight and elevate the power of women. Here are five lesson plans that engage with reporting on issues affecting women around the world and celebrate the ways in which they are solving problems, fighting back, and taking charge.

    1. Widowhood and Women’s Rights


    Betty Nanozi poses for a portrait in her fields. Betty, a widow for over a decade, first experienced property grabbing the moment she became a widow when her step children came into her home the night her husband died and took everything. Image by Amy Toensing and Kathryn Carlson. Uganda, 2016.

    Betty Nanozi poses for a portrait in her fields. Betty, a widow for over a decade, first experienced property grabbing the moment she became a widow when her step children came into her home the night her husband died and took everything. Image by Amy Toensing and Kathryn Carlson. Uganda, 2016.

    In a stunning multimedia series for National Geographic, writers, photojournalists, and videographers tell the transcontinental story of women’s fight for basic rights in the wake of their husbands’ deaths. Zeroing in on India, Uganda, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, students can explore not only the under-reported story of the poverty, violence, and dehumanization many widows face across the globe, but also the story of the women bravely fighting for change.

    2. Women Learning and Practicing Law in Saudi Arabia

    Eiko Ojala illustration

    The guardianship system gives a woman a legal status resembling that of a minor. Illustration by Eiko Ojala/The New Yorker.

    The guardianship system gives a woman a legal status resembling that of a minor. Illustration by Eiko Ojala/The New Yorker.

    For the New Yorker, journalist Katherine Zoepf tells a story of women interrupting their country’s narrative through education and civic engagement. In the reporting, students meet Saudi Arabia’s first practicing female lawyers, permitted by the Saudi justice ministry to appear in court for the first time in 2013, and explore the ways their presence is sparking new awareness of women’s rights and a willingness to fight for them. This lesson plan asks students to examine the evolution of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and to compare the experience of these women with that of female lawyers in their own communities.

    3. Addressing Taboos Through Afghan Poetry

    Seamus Murphy photo

    Image by Seamus Murphy, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation.

    Image by Seamus Murphy, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation.

    Poet and journalist Eliza Griswold traveled to Afghanistan with photographer Seamus Murphy to speak with the people behind the landai poetry movement, wherein Pashtun women are risking death to share anonymous, orally performed poems for political and personal expression deemed taboo in their conservative communities. Through this lesson, students use their exploration of writing, photography, video, and poetry translated by Griswold to discuss the subversive power of self-expression and craft poems about taboos in their own lives.

    4. Seeking Asylum: Women and Children Migrating Across Borders

    Taimaa and Heln

    Image by Lynsey Addario. Estonia, 2017.

    Image by Lynsey Addario. Estonia, 2017.

    This award-winning project for TIME follows a year in the life of four Syrian refugees who become new mothers shortly after arriving in Greece. Through multimedia interactives, photography, video, and written stories, students can immerse themselves in the conditions of Europe’s refugee camps, the anxiety of awaiting news about asylum, and the challenges of integrating into a foreign country. After delving into the reporting, this lesson asks students to debate solutions to the refugee crisis.

    5. Proposing a Win for Women Worldwide

    Contraception culture wars

    Supporters celebrate passage of the reproductive health bill in the Philippines' House of Representatives in December. Image by Jay Directo / AFP/Getty Images. Philippines, 2012.

    Supporters celebrate passage of the reproductive health bill in the Philippines' House of Representatives in December. Image by Jay Directo / AFP/Getty Images. Philippines, 2012.

    What realities exist for women nationally and globally? How are people combating gender-based violence and discrimination, and what can we do to strengthen the movement? These essential questions guide students as they integrate information from multiple news sources in order to evaluate responses to gender inequality in the Philippines, Nepal, and India. Finally, this lesson challenges them to propose the best course of action for addressing these inequalities.

    Educator Notes: 

    To Skype with a journalist associated with these projects, email

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    Activity Prep for Educators:

    This dynamic activity is a perfect warm-up for any lesson on visual literacy! Before class, print out the "Photos for Puzzle Activity" PDF below (we suggest using cardstock) and cut the photos into puzzle piece shapes (just like this). Every student should start out with one puzzle piece, and the remaining pieces that make up their photo should be distributed among other students/around the room. Additionally, print out the "Captions for Photo Puzzles" PDF, or plan to project it during class.

    Activity Instructions for Students:

    1. On your own, examine the puzzle piece in front of you. Take three minutes to write down:

    • What do you see on your puzzle piece?
    • What story do you think this photo is telling?
    • What would you predict the rest of this photograph might look like?

    Share your observations and predictions with the class.

    2. You are holding one piece of a photograph from a news story. The other pieces that make up that photo are in your classmates' hands, or scattered around the room! Take two minutes to work with your classmates to put your photo puzzle together.

    3. Now that you see the full picture, discuss in your small group:

    • What story do you think this photo is telling now?
    • How well do your predictions match up with reality?
    • What would you predict the news story this photo is from might be about?

    4. Find the headline and caption that match your photo. Discuss as a class:

    • What new information did you learn by reading?
    • Why is it important to seek out the whole story instead of settling for partial information?
    • How can we seek out the full story/get more information about things we see in the news, on social media, and in our everyday lives?
    Educator Notes: 

    This lesson was developed in partnership with Carolyn Kouri, visual arts educator at Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, DC.