Resources for Teachers and Students
, week of
Jan. 19, 2015
1. Boston Extending School Day
Public school officials and leaders of the city teachers union have agreed to add 40 minutes to each school day for Boston’s elementary and middle school students. The agreement still requires approval of the union’s full membership and the school committee of the Massachusetts city, but both the mayor and union officials are behind it. Students gain a better chance for success with more learning time, the mayor said, and the union president said the extension would benefit art, music, drama, foreign language and other “underserved” subject areas. All over the country, longer school days are being considered by communities. As a class, discuss ways that a longer school day could benefit students. What subjects would you like to study if you had more time? What subjects would you like to study in more depth? What activities would you like to have available that are not available now? Use points from the discussion to write a short editorial detailing how students could benefit “With More Time…”
Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
2. Victim’s Friend Spears Shark
An Australian teenager probably saved his own life when he thrust a spear gun down the throat of a great white shark that had just killed his friend. “The shark turned and came for me” after killing his companion, the youth says. “I pushed the spear gun down his throat and fired.” In most cases, sharks responsible for attacks can’t be identified, but an Australian Fisheries Department spokesman said that in this case that wouldn’t be so “if we find a shark with a spear in it.” The killer shark would be disposed of, the spokesman said. Shark attacks are rare, but when they occur they get great attention in the news. Other interactions between wildlife and animals also can make news. In the newspaper or online, find a story about a close encounter between wildlife and people. Read the story closely and use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing key points. Then write a second paragraph outlining safety tips for people who might have a similar encounter.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Glaciers Melting in Glacier Park
It’s called Glacier National Park, but considering how the glaciers are melting, it may have to change its name eventually. The national park in the state of Montana once boasted 150 glaciers, many of them extremely thick. But only 25 survive today — and it’s possible they’ll be history soon. A warming climate is responsible for what’s happening at the park near the Canadian border. Scientists say warming caused by human activities is playing a major role in the melting, but over the millennia, the rate of melting has alternately sped up and slowed as part of natural climate cycles. The effects of global warming are being felt in many ways around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about global warming affecting a habitat, wildlife or people. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips illustrating the effects that warming is having.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
4. Energy Boom, Rail Delays
An energy boom from oil drilling has created a sharp increase in U.S. rail freight traffic, causing major delays for Amtrak railroad passengers and holding up rail transport of vital consumer and industrial goods. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board reports that the number of rail cars filled with crude oil jumped to 415,000 in 2013 from just 9,500 in 2008. The increase in traffic has slowed down Amtrak passenger trains, which now are late 60 percent of the time, compared to 35 percent a year ago. Delays have not been serious along the Northeast Corridor, where Amtrak owns most of the track and controls passenger service. But on some long-distance lines, like the Empire Builder between Chicago and Portland, trains typically run hours behind, and revenue has dropped off. Energy needs are a major economic story in the United States. In the newspaper or online, find a story about energy production or energy use. Read the story closely and write a paragraph explaining how the issues or news in the story affect American consumers.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. Exhibitions of Warhol
About 40 exhibitions of artist Andy Warhol’s work – much of it previously unseen by the public – are scheduled for 2015. This is being stimulated by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which has distributed 52,786 Warhol works to 322 institutions, with the stipulation that they must be exhibited. Warhol exhibitions are opening soon at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, Middlebury College in Vermont and the University of Arizona in Tucson. Andy Warhol was famous for using popular culture figures and popular products as subjects for his art. In the newspaper, find a celebrity you like and a product you use. Create a drawing or painting that shows the celebrity interacting with the product in some way. Give your work a title and write a paragraph explaining the relationship between the celebrity and the product in your piece.
Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
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