, week of
Aug. 18, 2014
1. Mysterious Crater
A huge, mysterious crater has appeared in Asia in a remote part of Siberia, but Russian authorities have ruled out meteorites or aliens. Still, a team of government experts was rushed to the Yamal peninsula site to investigate. Experts believe that because of global warming, a mixture of water, salt and gas formed underground due to melting permafrost. Then it ignited, causing an eruption “like the popping of a champagne cork.” When anything unusual happens in an environment, scientists pay special attention. In the newspaper or online, find a story about an unusual occurrence or trend in an environment or habitat. Read the story closely to understand the occurrence or trend. Then do additional research and design a poster highlighting key points of the occurrence and explanations for why it happened. Give your poster an eye-catching title.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
2. Free-Speech Suits
An advocacy group based in Pennsylvania is filing lawsuits against colleges and universities that it contends are restricting free speech. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has deplored the “intellectually unhealthy attitude that it is not OK … to hear opinions that might make you uncomfortable.” Promising more suits in the future, the group has sued Iowa State and Ohio University for banning T-shirts with messages, Chicago State for trying to shut down a faculty blog and Citrus College in Glendora, California, for limiting where a student can collect names for a petition. Freedom of speech is a right guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Read the other rights guaranteed in the First Amendment. Then find examples of each right in the news stories of the newspaper or Internet. Write a sentence explaining how each right applies to the news.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. No Native Dress, Please
In the Asian nation of India, people are unwelcome at some places and events if they wear the dhoti, the traditional Indian wraparound garment. A judge and two lawyers recently were turned away from a book event at an English-style cricket club in the city of Chennai because club rules require “full trousers, shirts or T-shirts with collars.” In response, protests erupted throughout India, a regional leader condemned the club’s “sartorial despotism” and activists delivered shipments of dhotis to the club. The club explained the rule by saying it was implemented to “prevent wardrobe malfunctions under the influence of alcohol.” Cultural customs, clothing and traditions are important to many people as an expression of their heritage. In the newspaper or online, find an example of people expressing heritage in this way, or being prevented from doing so. Use what you find to write a short newspaper editorial about the importance of cultural traditions and customs.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. Read to Me, Mommy
The American College of Pediatrics has urged the children’s doctors in its membership to advise parents to read aloud to their infants every day until the kids enter kindergarten. Even more, the academy urges pediatricians to give out books to children of low-income families to ensure they are exposed to reading. What do reading and literacy have to do with health? The academy says studies have shown that adults who have trouble reading are less likely to get good preventive care, do not manage chronic diseases as well and are more likely to die prematurely. A reading habit is part of a lifestyle that can cut these risks, the academy says, and it’s never too early to start. Young parents often are under a lot of stress and do not realize how important reading is to children’s development and health. When children are read to, they learn words and develop brain power by following stories and reacting to pictures. Like children’s books, the comics of the newspaper tell stories. In the newspaper, find one or two comics whose stories could be enjoyed by a young child. Clip or print the comics for a week or month. Compile them into a “book” to read to a young child. Then practice reading your book aloud, with expression. Think of questions you could ask a young child to build knowledge and word power while reading the book.
Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression on successive readings.
5. Tina Fey Goes Home
Tina Fey has not forgotten her roots. The Emmy award-winning actress, comedian, director and producer hosted a fund-raising event for the Upper Darby Summer Stage program in Pennsylvania on August 16. Fey grew up in Upper Darby, located outside Philadelphia, and attended Upper Darby High School. She acted, directed, ushered and worked in the box office at Upper Darby Summer Stage, a summer theater program for young performers. The August 16 fund-raiser featured a screening of the movie “Mean Girls,” for which she wrote the screenplay and co-starred with Lindsay Lohan. Fey also hosted a question-and-answer program with students, parents and other audience members. Community arts programs like Upper Darby Summer Stage provide many creative activities for students and adults. In the newspaper online, find an arts program in your community or state. Read up on the program, and brainstorm an idea for a TV ad showcasing what it offers. Write an outline for your ad, describing the message to be delivered and the images that will be used.
Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.