1. Largest Marine Preserve
A wide stretch of ocean is being set aside for an expanded and protected marine preserve. The United States is declaring the waters off limits to oil drilling and most fishing in a bid to protect fragile underwater life in the Pacific Ocean. The area is located in the expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which covers 490,000 square miles of water around island territories controlled by the U.S. The area is roughly three times the size of California and is the world’s largest marine reserve. Millions of seabirds, turtles and marine mammals will be protected in the area, as will more than 130 underwater mountains, where rare and previously unknown species are often found. There are many benefits to protecting wildlife habitats. As a class, discuss some with regard to the new Pacific Ocean marine preserve. Use points from the discussion to draw a series of comic strips showing ways the new marine preserve will benefit wildlife, and people.
Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
2. Ancient Wheat
Ancient people in the European nation of Great Britain imported wheat from other areas for 2,000 years before they started growing it themselves, archaeological evidence suggests. Since the findings indicate the Britons knew about farming, scientists are wondering why it took 2,000 years for them to practice it. Farming began in the Middle East at least 10,500 years ago and in continental Europe a couple of thousand years later, but it did not begin in the British Isles until about 6,000 years ago. Yet researchers report in the journal Science that they have found scientific DNA evidence of wheat dating back 8,000 years at a site off the English coast. Scientists study artifacts and things from the past to learn how people and wildlife lived in earlier times. In the newspaper, find five items in stories, photos and ads that would tell future scientists something about the way we live. Write a complete sentence for each, explaining what it could teach. Then rank them in order of importance for what they could teach future scientists.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
3. A Star’s Possessions
Shirley Temple became a movie star as a young child and was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood before she was out of elementary school. In her career, she stored away dancing shoes, dresses, dolls and other items from her days as a child star, and fans will be able to buy some of those items at an auction sale this summer. Before the auction in July, items from the collection will be exhibited at museums in different parts of the country. The traveling exhibit will be titled “Love, Shirley Temple” in memory of the actress, who lived a long life and died last year at age 85. People have always loved to read about movie stars and entertainers. In the newspaper or online, find a story about a movie star or entertainer you like. Read the story closely and use what you read to write a “fan letter” to the star, explaining why you like him or her.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
4. Bug Killing Ash Trees
An insect called the emerald ash borer is expected to kill off North America’s ash trees in a few years. This will not only threaten the production of baseball bats — which are made of ash — but will affect plants, animals, water supplies and forest ecosystems. Scientists concede they are losing the battle against the insect, which came to the U.S. from the continent of Asia. Its larva eat through the bark of the ash trees and burrow into the trunk to insulate themselves from the cold. This cuts off nutrients and water that the tree needs to survive and can kill a tree in as little as two years. When a species invades a new area it is known as an “invasive” species. Invasive species are hard to battle because they have few predators in their new area. As a class, closely read a story in the newspaper or online about an invasive species. Use what you read to design a poster or public service ad, highlighting problems the species is causing and what can be done.
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; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
5. Your Own Magazine
The Nation, America’s oldest weekly magazine, is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a year of special events, including public discussions, a book release and a film documentary. It was founded by anti-slavery abolitionists in 1865, shortly after the Civil War. High point of the year-long observance will be a 200-page special issue in April, including historic and new articles by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leading figures from the past and present. If you could start your own magazine, what kind would you start? Would you like to focus on a narrow topic, or offer stories on a wide range of topics? Think of a name for your magazine. Then go through the newspaper and print or clip out stories and photos you would include in your magazine. Write a paragraph describing your magazine, why you picked the stories and photos, and to whom you think your magazine would appeal.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.