If you’re a regular Times reader, you already know that the profusion of articles, essays, photojournalism, graphics, videos and podcasts we publish daily means that there is no simple answer to the question “What is the reading level of The New York Times?”
In fact, as The Times expands its reporting to include new formats like the “burst,” shown in the image above — and in these pieces about the Western droughts, how to eat less sugar and why Simone Biles is the GOAT — we think that’s more important for teachers to understand than ever.
This year, The Learning Network is committed to making the most of these new formats to welcome a broader range of learners to our site, and to The Times in general. We want to show teachers and students — who may have assumed that all Times reporting looks more like this, from 1865, than this, from 2021 — that there is something in the paper for every reader, every day.
To help, we’re starting a new feature called Accessible Activities. In each Wednesday’s edition, we’ll be rounding up five student activities that draw on highly visual reporting across Times sections. These activities will also offer additional scaffolding that invites all kinds of learners to grapple with what might be unfamiliar language or concepts. Some of these will be features that teachers across levels already love — like our What’s Going On in This Picture? exercise — and some will be new.
For instance, if you look at our first Lesson of the Day to follow this format, you can see that we have included streamlined prompts and directions; a printable PDF version of the article for students to annotate; and a new vocabulary section. We’ll be creating these kinds of lessons regularly, drawing not just on new storytelling formats like “bursts,” but also on more traditional Times reporting.
Want to take a look? We’ve already published our first edition of Accessible Activities, and we’d love to hear what you think.
As the school year continues, we expect to tweak both the roundup and the features themselves thanks to your responses, so please submit a comment here, or by emailing us at LNFeedback@nytimes.com. Then look for our next Accessible Activities roundup on Wednesday, Sept. 29, and each Wednesday after that for the rest of the school year.