K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Developing online resources for beginning teachers is not easy. What new teachers need most of all is a mentor — an experienced, thoughtful, successful teacher who can take the time to guide them through their first year. They need someone to steer them...
By David Walbert.
Defining tyranny
Students will focus on gathering support for and elaborating on ideas for an essay of definition on tyranny. Students will use examples from history and from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9–10 English Language Arts)
By Bethany Hill.
The Johnstown Flood: Cause and effect
In Where English and history meet: A collaboration guide, page 3
This lesson plan combines work with the Johnstown Flood, one of the most significant news events of the late nineteenth century, and the development of cause and effect argument.
By Karen Cobb Carroll, Ph.D., NBCT.
Defining risk: A search for theme in Fahrenheit 451
Students explore their understanding of the notion of risk in relation to their own experiences and in response to a variety of quotes. This exercise serves as a springboard to themes in the novel Fahrenheit 451.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9 English Language Arts)
By Leatha Fields-Carey.
The First Year
Essays on the author's experiences in her first year of teaching: the mistakes she made, what she learned from them, and how she used them to become a better teacher — and how other first-year teachers can, too.
Format: book (multiple pages)
Raleigh: A Capital City
An itinerary for a tour of the capital of the Old North State. The site provides information and photographs for Raleigh's historic districts, architecture, parks and recreational areas, and more.
Format: article/field trip opportunity
Hamilton and Burr: Compare and contrast
In Where English and history meet: A collaboration guide, page 2
This lesson plan compares Alexander Hamilton, the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, and Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President. The lesson plan uses the duel between the two (at which Hamilton was fatally wounded) as an opportunity to contrast two early political leaders that have stark similarities as well as definite differences.
Format: article
By Karen Cobb Carroll, Ph.D., NBCT.
Students will observe decomposition in a pile of grass clippings and in a compost heap over time.
Format: lesson plan (grade 5 Science)
By Monica Dubbs.
Interracial "harmony" and the Great Awakening
The students will be introduced to two episodes in 19th-century American history, around the time of the Great Awakening, that show glimpses of some positive and negative consequences of interracial interaction in a religious context. The students will examine primary sources from the Documenting the American South collection to then be able to write a "sermon" from the perspective of a southern itinerant preacher during the Great Awakening arguing for or against religion as a cure for the social ill of racism and slavery.
Format: lesson plan (grade 11–12 English Language Arts and Social Studies)
By Jamie Lathan.
Alternative assessment
Alternative assessments measure performance in forms other than traditional paper-and-pencil, short answer tests. This article provides an extended explanation of alternative assessments, including a variety of examples.
Format: article
By Jennifer Job.
Caucusing in the middle school classroom
In Arts of persuasion, page 1
Caucusing enables students to practice the elements of responsible citizenship, including persuasive writing and speaking.
By Pamela Myrick and Sharon Pearson.
Improving student essay writing
English II teachers are constantly searching for strategies to improve students' analytical responses to literature. This lesson is designed for all types of learners, offering various activities for all learning styles. Individual, small group, and whole class activities on essay writing culminate with the student writing his or her own formal response to literature.

This generic writing activity may be used with any literary unit and at any point in your students' development of the writing process.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9–10 English Language Arts)
By Shawn Parker.
Helping students understand text structures: Informational problem/solution
This exercise teaches students to understand the organizational structure of problem/solution essays by having them write "what it says" and "what it does" statements about a text. Asking students to write these statements about a text will enable students to read the text closely and will ensure that they understand the structure of a problem/solution text.
Format: lesson plan (grade 10 English Language Arts)
By Margaret Ryan.
Writing exemplars (high school)
Samples of varying levels of performance on different types of writing assignments by high school students, with comments based on the five Features of Effective Writing: focus, organization, support and elaboration, style, and conventions.
Format: tutorial
The Changing Face of Mexico
Essays and activities exploring Mexican culture, past and present. Includes historical perspectives, classroom activities, and recipes.
Format: book (multiple pages)
Interdisciplinary Integrated Unit on DNA/Genetics Part C: Language Arts
The third lesson of an interdisciplinary integrated unit on DNA and genetics, focusing on language arts. The first two lessons in the unit focus on science and math.
Format: lesson plan (grade 7 English Language Arts and Information Skills)
By Jane Lentz, Jimmy White, Marlene Smith, and Tori Goldrick.
Posing a scenario and "looping" to provide focus in a cause/effect essay
Most of us are familiar with the idea that in narratives a writer chooses a “hot spot” or critical incident to serve as the focus of the work. Teachers of expository writing also must assist students in finding the “hot spot” or focus of their essays. Use this exercise to help student focus on one aspect of the essay.
Format: lesson plan (grade 9–10 English Language Arts)
By Margaret Ryan.
New Teacher Support
Ok, so it's not all fun and games. Now what? When you decided to become a teacher, what did you think about? If you're like most people, you thought about making a difference in children's lives, about helping them learn, making them think, "touching...
Format: article/help
Issues, we've all got them: Language arts/visual arts integration
Students will learn how to deal positively with social issues important in their lives through personal investigation of social issues addressed in literature and art.
Format: lesson plan (grade 7 Visual Arts Education, English Language Arts, and English Language Development)
By Runell Carpenter.
Durham's "Black Wall Street"
In North Carolina in the early 20th century, page 5.6
In the early twentieth century, Parrish Street in Durham, North Carolina, known as "Black Walll Street," was the hub of African American business activity.
Format: article