Lesson Plan: Cover Stories

Local Heroes (Grades 3-5)

1. Display or distribute copies of The New Yorker cover titled Local Heroes. Do not share the title with students.

2. Ask students to look at the cover. If possible, zoom in to focus on specific sections.

3. Lead a guided inquiry by asking the following questions (note: each question has the same follow-up question designed to get students to support their responses with their observations). Record their observations on a smartboard or chart paper by category.  
-  What people do you see on the cover? Who else do you see?
-  What time of year does this place? What makes you say that?
-  What are the kids doing? What makes you say that?
-  Where does this take place? What makes you say that?

4. Recap the recorded responses from students. Tell students this cover is connected to 9/11 – shorthand for the date September 11, 2001 – and that you are going to work together to discover how based on their observations.

5. Who can tell me what happened on 9/11?

6. Incorporate the background information about 9/11 with students as they share their responses.

On Sept. 11, 2001, four airplanes were hijacked, or taken over, by 19 terrorists and flown into important buildings. Two planes were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. As people rushed out of the towers, many rushed in to help, including members of the New York City's Fire Department, who saved thousands of lives. Almost 3,000 people were killed, including 343 active-duty members of the FDNY, and 441 first responders in total.

Ask: What is a first responder?

7. Direct students to look at the cover again. Who are the children dressed up as for Halloween? Why do you they decided to dress up as first responders for Halloween in October 2001?

8. Conclude by revealing the actual title, Local Heroes, given by the artist, Peter de Sève. Ask:

-  What is a hero? What does the word hero mean?
-  Who is a hero in your community?

Image courtesy of the artist

Additional resources for young learners:
Lesson Plan: Brave Individuals
Lesson Plan: Firemen? No Firefighters!
Lesson Plan: What is a Hero?
Teaching Guide: 9/11 Fact Sheet For Early Childhood Students
Teaching Guide: Tips for Talking Children About 9/11