, week of
July 18, 2011
1. Off We Go
Two pilots flying private airplanes last week looked out their windows and saw they had company in the form of U.S. F-15 fighter jets. The jets intercepted the planes because they were flying in a no-fly zone over Camp David, where President Obama and his family often stay when not in the White House. According to an Associated Press article, the pilots most likely were unaware that they had violated the no-fly zone. The restricted airspace above Camp David normally is 12,500 feet with a radius of 3.5 miles, but that changes to 18,000 feet and a radius of 6 miles when the President is at the retreat. With family and friends, look in the newspaper for stories about military jets or activities. Write a paragraph describing what training and education you think are needed to be a jet pilot. Then do some research and find out the key things pilots need to know.
Learning Standards: Using organizational features of electronic texts and printed texts to locate information; acquiring information from written, visual and electronic sources and then organizing and analyzing it.
2. Baseball's Second Half
Major League Baseball has had its break for the All-Star Game, and now players are back with their teams for the second half of the season. With family or friends, read stories about Major League Baseball this week in the newspaper. Talk about some of the topics the newspaper writers are discussing and writing about. Then pick a player, team or issue you think will be important in the second half of the baseball season. Write a paragraph or two talking about your choice. For extra fun, rewrite your paragraph as a rhyming poem or rap, and perform it for friends!
Learning Standards: Engaging peers in constructive conversation about topics of interest or importance; locating and describing the cultures of communities; writing fluently for multiple purposes.
3. Save the Whales
An empty plastic grocery bag skips down the beach and into the ocean. What's one plastic bag in a sea covering thousands of square miles? A lot when it comes to marine life. At a recent international whaling forum, scientists said that hundreds of whales, dolphins and porpoises have been sickened or killed by marine litter, according to an article from Agence France-Presse. In 2008, two sperm whales were stranded on a California beach and one of them had 450 pounds of fish nets and plastic debris in its stomach. Cuvier's beaked whales in the northeast Atlantic "have particularly high [rates] of ingestion and death from plastic bags," said scientist Mark Simmonds. Find an article in the newspaper about litter and its impact on the environment. Or find an example online. Write a letter to the editor to start a letter-writing campaign to help raise awareness of the problem in your area, or to organize a clean-up day at a local park or beach.
Learning Standards: Describing helpful or harmful effects of humans on the environment (garbage, habitat destruction, land management, renewable and non-renewable resources); writing fluently for multiple purposes.
4. Farewell, Harry
The final battle between good and evil rages on movie screens this week in the last installment of the Harry Potter films. But before there were the movies, there were the Harry Potter books, which are some of the best-selling books of all time. The books follow the adventures of the young wizard who was orphaned as a baby and raised by his non-wizard aunt and uncle. He heads off to the magical school Hogwarts, where he meets his best friends Ron and Hermione. He runs afoul of some of the teachers, such as Severus Snape, but finds allies in teachers like Minerva McGonagall and headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Look for a story or review of the movie in the newspaper. Write about one of the characters in the books/movies and tell why you like that particular character.
Learning Standards: Identifying and describing characters' thoughts and motivations, story level themes (good vs. evil), main idea and lesson/moral (fable); developing critical standards for personal use.
5. Motor City Celebration
Happy birthday, Detroit! On July 24, 1701, the city of Detroit, Michigan, was founded by a Frenchman named Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. He established a trading post along the banks of the Detroit River, which helps link Lake Huron and Lake Erie. In the late 1800s, the son of a farmer named Henry Ford built his first motor car in the city, and Detroit would become known as the Motor City because of its car manufacturing. In the newspaper find an article or advertisement about an American automobile. Write a paragraph describing what you like best about the car. Then use what you found to design and draw your own idea for a car of the future.
Learning Standards: Demonstrating scientific concepts through various illustrations, performances, models, exhibits and activities.