Common Core Lessons and Books –
Cross Curricular Connections
from Antigone to Shakespeare
to the Harlem Renaissance

NEXUS Connects



CONNECT LEARNING to LIFE and ALL SUBJECTS to a COMMON CORE. Our Common Core aligned, interdisciplinary books teach and inspire students to link, think and achieve.


the curriculum by building interdisciplinary units around great works of literature that reflect widely studied epochs from Ancient Greece to the Harlem Renaissance and the Great Depression.


MEANS CONNECTION, LINKING and THINKING. NEXUS provides the linking that motivates students to think for themselves.


“All NEXUS volumes emphasize the critical skills and analogical thinking that are crucial for success on the SAT.”

GENE MAEROFF, Founder of the Hechinger Institute on Education and Media, Teachers College, Columbia University

“NEXUS is a remarkable publication, one of the best of its kind for promoting interdisciplinary work by students. Each volume reflects careful research and is filled with information that both engages students and advances their understanding of how the disciplines complement each other.” – Gene Maeroff is the former Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and former New York Times” national education correspondent.


“It is just an excellent compilation of materials. I think these books are absolute treasures, just remarkable. For a single teacher especially, it pulls everything together. The magazine can take the place of a team of teachers.” – Susan Neun, English Chair


“Kids who are harder to engage enjoy the visuals and the real-world applications. Overall each volume provides research that any teacher would love to do, but doesn’t have the time to do, and the fact that NEXUS does it for us is very valuable.” – Marti Koller, English teacher

TEMPO, Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented

“With an impressive group of contributors and consultants, Publisher/Editor Jesse Bryant Wilder has put together a stunning set of challenging materials that will provide outstanding learning experiences for secondary students.”


“NEXUS is a visually exciting, reader friendly magazine with chapters contributed by nationally known experts in their fields. Crisp scholarship, challenging activities, and teacher supplements make learning entertaining and challenging. NEXUS brings the past to life by using a lively writing style and colorful or intriguing anecdotes, and by highlighting the ‘story’ in history.”


is a nonprofit foundation that produces NEXUS Interdisciplinary Books and online lessons. Our mission is to provide educators with outstanding interdisciplinary curriculum units that captivate and motivate their students to link, think, and excel while immersing them in the culture of key periods.

Among the reasons the NEXUS approach is so effective is because it not only connects disciplines and links learning to real life, it also connects the subject matter to students’ emotional and experiential brain networks (see The Harlem Renaissance text samples in green, the Julius Caesar text sample under “Lesson on Shakespeare’s Language and the Writings of Julius Caesar,” Antigone text samples:  “Antigone’s Challenge: Democracy or Dictatorship” and “A Recipe for Tragedy: Aristotle and Oedipus Rex,” and the Macbeth sample text under “Lesson on Macbeth Themes: Fatal Passion and the War Within.”)

Teacher Resources that Save You Time and Energy

CCSS and Cross-Curricular Lesson Plans: A Student Resource That’s a Teacher Resource Too!

All NEXUS chapters, as well as the activities, projects and lessons in the NEXUS Guidelines, are aligned to Common Core Standards. The Books’ pages of our website list the standards that each chapter satisfies.

Finding free time for interdisciplinary research and to write cross-curricular lesson plans is among the greatest challenges of integrating the curriculum. Our research teams and university specialists save you hundreds of hours by linking the curriculum for you.

Overall each volume provides research that any teacher would love to do, but doesn’t have the time to do, and the fact that NEXUS does it for us is very valuable. — Marti Koller, English teacher, Baldwin-Woodville High School, Baldwin, WI

FREE and FEE Common Core Aligned Lesson Plans with Each Volume of NEXUS


FREE and FEE lesson plans in the LESSON PLANS menu. Each volume of NEXUS also includes outstanding SUPPLEMENTS, for example, Antigone and the Greek World includes “The Three Kings of Drama,” “Keats’s Greek Odes” (Ode on a Grecian Urn and Ode to Psyche) – includes close examinations of and 15 questions for each poem, “Aristotle Meets The Wizard of Oz,” and “Athens Hubris, the Turning Point of the War.”
Romeo and Juliet and the Renaissance includes “Mercutio versus Mr. Manners” and “English Theater.” The Grapes of Wrath and the American Dream includes “Federal Arts Projects” (WPA), “The History of Visual Art in the New Deal Era,” “Writing Character Sketches à la Steinbeck,” and “Repetition in Literature (especially Steinbeck’s use of repetition in the intercalary chapters of The Grapes of Wrath and Music.” The supplements include exercises and activities.

Downloadable Lessons (see Lessons drop-down menu).

EXAMPLES. For Romeo and Juliet & the Renaissance: two writing-your-own-scene lessons: “Girl Talk – Juliet Meets Rosaline” (students create a scene by imagining an encounter between Romeo’s two loves the morning after the Capulet party) and “Guy Talk – Romeo Meets Paris” (students imagine an encounter between Romeo and Paris the morning after the Capulet party); a rigorous lesson on how to write metaphors, antitheses, and puns (bonus: this lesson helps students grapple with and appreciate the figurative language in Romeo and Juliet); “Love is Blind” lesson; two anti-bullying lessons tied to the play, and “The Red-Light/Green-Light Game.” The latter facilitates a close reading of Romeo and Juliet and an understanding of the tragedy’s structure. External and internal forces drive many of the characters to act precipitously in the play, propelling the action toward its tragic conclusion. But there are opposing forces that recommend a cautious approach: “they stumble that run fast,” “let two years ripen in their prime/ere we think her ripe to be a bride,” etc. In the exhilarating Romeo and Juliet “Red Light Green Light Game” students track both types of forces and their interaction throughout the play as well as the evolution of characters who are driven by these forces. The Red Light-Green Light game involves the entire class, with students serving as Drivers and a Traffic Cop, and the teacher acting as the Traffic Court Judge.


Student Resources that Not Only Engage, but Inspire

NEXUS Connects to Students’ Lives

These College-Board recommended resources provide highly engaging and interactive learning experiences, inspiring students to soar academically.

NEXUS booklets are the exciting alternative to the dry, bulky textbook. A dry presentation guarantees a dry reception and poor absorption of the learning material. Preview our inspiring texts: Romeo and Juliet and the Renaissance, Macbeth and the Dark Ages, Julius Caesar and Ancient Rome, from Republic to Empire, Antigone and the Greek World, The Harlem Renaissance, The Grapes of Wrath and the American Dream, and The Lion in Winter and the Middle Ages. FIND more details about each volume under the SUBJECTS menu in Literature , History, and Art and Music.

When inspired to learn, students work harder and retain more. “Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.” – LEONARDO DA VINCI

NEXUS engages students with anecdotes and stirring stories gleaned from primary sources and by linking learning to real life and all subjects to one another.  NEXUS exercises cross-curriculum thinking skills like analogical thinking (including metaphor and contrast) and pattern recognition and emphasizes caring over competition. NEXUS is helping to transform American schools into safe, stimulating environments where authentic learning flourishes.

“All NEXUS volumes emphasize the critical skills and analogical thinking that are crucial for success on the SAT.” – THE COLLEGE BOARD

Shakespeare Study Hall – Tackling the Figurative Language in Shakespeare’s Plays

In the online SHAKESPEARE STUDY HALL (Coming in the Fall of 2024) students explicate Shakespeare’s figurative language using graphic tools that help them to identify antithesis, parallelism, oxymoron, etc. The language is made clear and entertaining with illustrations that SHOW what Shakespeare SAYS.

The SSH will be divided into three rooms – brain workout rooms: 1) the Romeo and Juliet Room; 2) the Macbeth Room; and 3) the Julius Caesar Room. Each year students’ facility with Shakespeare’s figurative language will greatly improve as they advance to the higher numbered rooms and tackle increasingly challenging exercises – or mental aerobics. As students acquire mastery over Shakespeare’s language, their reading and critical thinking skills will dramatically improve in literature and all other subjects.

NEXUS links a great work of literature to the history, art, music, and science of the period it reflects. Each subject reinforces the others, enabling students to gain a comprehensive understanding of the period while exercising analogous critical thinking skills across the curriculum.