Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan which is adaptable for grades 5-12, students use BrainPOP resources (including an online game) to practice research, reading, and writing skills within a real-world context. Through game play, students take on the role of a news magazine editor-in-chief, and must research facts through a variety of informational texts (such as press releases, email, and text massages) and then edit edit stories and coordinate social media to disseminate information to the community about a major hurricane.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Use an online game to practice and apply reading and writing skills within a real-world context.
  2. Find the main idea of a text.
  3. Summarize text.
  4. Analyze text in primary sources.
  5. Distinguish between primary and secondary sources.


  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP


This lesson plan utilizes an online game from Classroom Inc. called After the Storm. The game's action takes place the day after a major hurricane devastates the community of Port Douglas. Students take on the role of editor-in-chief of the community’s online news magazine: they must respond to organizational and editorial challenges based on information gathered during the game through informational texts such as press releases, official reports, emails, text messages, and conversations with colleagues. They will also edit stories, coordinate social media, and interview townspeople. After the Storm helps students learn about writing, editing, the importance of the main idea in a text, and balancing big-picture needs with the crucial details of putting together a news magazine.

While the full game can take up to an hour to play, a number of teaching goals can be met in considerably less time. We recommend setting aside at least 20 minutes of game play in class, and allowing students to explore the game further at home if needed.

You can prepare your students for getting the most out of the game by using some of the terrific resources from Classroom Inc.. The Mini-Lesson: What Do Your Students Know about Hurricanes? can be helpful for tapping into and building onto students' prior knowledge about hurricanes. The activity called Background: What Does an Editor-in-Chief Do? can help students understand the role they will play in the game and the responsibilities they will need to take on as an Editor-in-Chief.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Show students images of hurricane destruction to towns. You may want to select images from a Google Image search on the topic.
  2. Ask students what kind of information community members might need to know if they were living among hurricane destruction like that in the photos. What would be the most important information they would need, and how might they get that information?
  3. Tell students they will be taking on the role of the editor-in-chief of an online news magazine through game play. Their job will be to find pertinent information and relay it to the fictional townspeople in the game.
  4. Help students make connections to prior knowledge by passing out copies of the Graphic Organizer (or providing computer access so students can type directly into the form.) What kind of research would they, as the editor-in-chief, need to conduct? Have them work with a partner to write down their ideas in the graphic organizer.
  5. Ask students if they had any difficult differentiating between primary and secondary sources they might use. Why is it important to have primary sources? What value might a secondary source provide?
  6. Play the Research Movie for the class and encourage students to add to their graphic organizer during and after the movie.
  7. Tell students they will now have the opportunity to put their research game plan into action via the After the Storm game. You may want to ask some of the suggested Pre-Game Discussion Questions to further prepare students for learning through game play.
  8. Provide 20-60 minutes for students to explore the game either independently or with a partner.
  9. You may want to have students use the print feature after game play to create a portfolio of their work. Using this option, students can either print and submit their final work from the game's embedded assessments directly to you, or create a PDF version and submit a digital copy for your review.
  10. Have students share what they learned during the game. Use the Post-Game Discussion Questions to facilitate the conversations.

Extension Activities:

Check out our ideas for Extending Student Learning after game play, including two printable resources provided by Classroom Inc.

You can also visit the site of publisher Classroom, Inc. and get access to the full experience, featuring 20 hours of gameplay, teacher resources and materials.
Filed as:  6-8, 9-12, After the Storm: Day One, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.10, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.8, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.9, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.1, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.7