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Exploring Pulitzer Prize-winning photos


Students will learn about the Pulitzer Prize, then use different Internet resources (including the Pulitzer Prize website) to research Pulitzer Prize winning photos. They will then present what they’ve learned to a small group of students and turn in a written summary of their learnings.


  • Students will be able to conduct mini research projects on topics about photojournalism, evaluate sources for their accuracy, and present what they’ve learned concisely to others.
  • Students will be able to actively listen to their peers to learn from them.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question  (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.


45 minutes


Computer/ online research access

Class set: Rubric

Lesson step-by-step

1. Building background — 5 minutes

Discuss: who is Joseph Pulitzer?  What is the Pulitzer Prize?  Explain to students that the Pulitzer Prizes were something that Joseph Pulitzer specifically requested in his will.  The Prizes are given every year.  In 2014, Pulitzers were given in 14 different categories in Journalism and 7 categories in Letters/Drama/Music.

2. Research — 25 minutes

Using a pre-made list of possible Pulitzer Prize winning photos, assign or allow students to pick a photo to research.  (Depending on the amount of available technology, students might work in pairs or small groups.)

Students should research when/where the photo/collection was taken, what the background situation is surrounding the photo/collection, and anything else that students can find out about the photo, collection, or photographer.

List of potential photos/photographers to research:

1) John Filo (1970)

2) Arnold Hardy (1947)

3) “A Mother’s Journey” by Renee C. Byer (2007)

4) Mary Chind (2010)

5) Massoud Hossani (2010)  **Photos are graphic/violent

6) Alan Diaz (2001)

7) Javier Manzano (2013) **Some photos are graphic/violent

8) Kevin Carter (1994)

9) John Robinson and Don Ultang (1952)

10) Anthony Roberts (1973)

11) Oded Balilty (2006)

12) Eddie Adams (1968)

13) Milton Brooks (1941)

14) Stanley Forman (1976)

15) Rocco Morabito (1967)

16) Jack Thornell (1966)

17) Robert Jackson (1964)

18) Thomas Kelly III (1979)

19) Slava Veder (1974)

20) Annie Wells (1997)

21) Tyler Hicks (2014) **Some photos are violent/graphic

22) Josh Haner (2014)

3. Group share — 10 minutes

Separate students into groups of 5-7 students (given the homework assignment for tonight, it may be good to group students by photographers from similar time periods).  Students should take turns sharing what they’ve learned about their photographs.  If all students in the class finish their mini-presentations with plenty of time left, the teacher can rearrange groups and have students share again. (The small groupings allow students to be more engaged in what the presenters are saying, so they learn more from the presentations.)

4. Homework — 5 Minutes

Have students write a paragraph in which they compare/contrast their assigned photographer with another photographer from the same era based on the information they learned in today’s presentations.


For students who struggle, it might be wise to help them navigate to the Pulitzer Prize website and show them how to access the information for their photos.  This gives them more time to learn about the photos, and they will spend less time struggling to locate the information in the first place.