Lesson Plan: Cover Stories

Reflections (Grades 9-12)

1. Display or distribute copies of The New Yorker cover entitled, Reflections, by Ana Juan.

2. Ask students to look at the cover and write down observations about shapes, colors, and the position of objects. If viewing on individual laptops or tablets, encourage them to use the zoom function.

3. Conduct a guided inquiry using the following questions: (note: each question has a similar follow-up question designed to get students to support their responses with evidence).
  -  What do you notice on this cover? What else do you see? (Repeat the question until all observations are made.)
  -  Where do you think this cover takes place? What makes you say that?
  -  When was this cover published? What is its significance?
  -  Why do you think the artist chose not to include color?
  -  What mood does the absence of color convey? What makes you say that?

4. Summarize student observations and ask: What words come to mind when viewing this cover? (absence, reflection, memory)

5. Tell students that the cover, by artist Ana Juan, is entitled, Reflections. As a class or in small groups, brainstorm definitions of the word "reflect" and record responses. Compare their ideas to the cover's title and ask: What do you think the artist wants viewers to reflect upon?

6. Tell students that an international design competition was held in 2003 to select the design for a national memorial to remember and honor the people killed as a result of the 9/11 attacks and the February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. The name of the design selected was “Reflecting Absence.”

7. Display or distribute an image of the 9/11 Memorial. Share the following excerpt from the Memorial Jury’s statement on selecting the design: 

"Reflecting Absence" has made the voids left by the destruction the primary symbols of our loss. By allowing absence to speak for itself, the designers have made the power of these empty footprints the memorial.

8. Ask: What do the The New Yorker cover and the 9/11 Memorial design have in common? Is the concept of absence an effective tool for reflection? Why or why not?

Image courtesy of The New Yorker © Condé Nast

Additional resources on memorialization and remembrance:
Lesson Plan: Tribute in Light
Power Point: Tribute in Light
Interactive: Memorials Registry
Content: About the Memorial