, week of
Aug. 18, 2014
1. Turtles Tie Up Air Traffic
At John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, flights have been delayed several times this summer — by turtles! Specifically, by diamondback terrapins slowly marching across a runway. Nobody’s exactly sure why, but once in a while, something compels turtles from the nearby Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to cross Runway 4L. The New York Port Authority has hired a senior wildlife biologist to determine what’s attracting the turtles and to find a way to re-route them. Workers erected a plastic barrier along the airport’s border, which stopped many turtles, but once in a while a turtle still gets through. When wildlife and humans interact, there sometimes can be problems. In the newspaper, find a species of wildlife in photos, stories or ads. With family or friends, discuss what problems could result if too many of the species came into contact with people or human activities. Write a paragraph describing one possible problem and a solution to it.
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.
2. Save an Ocean Liner
Its paint is peeling, and the SS United States has been sitting idle for nearly 20 years at a pier next to a shopping mall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s the last American ocean liner left, and now a final effort has been launched to save it from the scrap yard. A group called the SS United States Conservancy has been negotiating with three developers about converting the 900-foot-long passenger ship into a hotel, museum, shopping and entertainment mall, educational facility or a combination of different uses. Once operated as a luxury ship, the liner crossed back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean from 1952 to 1969, but just keeping it tied up on Philadelphia’s Delaware River costs the cash-strapped conservancy at least $60,000 a month. If a deal is reached, the liner could end up in New York City. Preserving historic ships, sites or buildings is an issue in many communities. With family or friends, talk about historic places or things you think should be preserved in your community. Then write a letter to the editor of the newspaper, describing one place or thing that should be preserved — and why.
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.
3. Bear Cub in a Cookie Jar
A bear cub going through trash in the state of New Jersey found a cookie jar it liked. But when it tried to get to the bottom of it, the cub got its head stuck. That required some extreme rescue measures by wildlife leaders in the town of Ringwood. When the cub was approached by workers from the state Department of Environmental Protection, the 28-pound animal got spooked and shinnied up a tree — only to get stuck in branches about 40 feet up. A biologist tranquilized the 6-month-old cub and brought it down to local firefighters, who cut the jar off its head. Just in case, however, a safety net had been set up under the tree. In every state, wildlife and environmental officials must deal with a wide variety of issues. In the newspaper or online, find a story about wildlife or the environment. Read it closely and write out three issues that wildlife or environmental officials might have to deal with — and how.
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.
4. My Town, USA
People think of towns as public things, but a small town in California has just been sold to private buyers. The new owners say they hope to restore the one-block, 2.5-acre town of Harmony, located on the Pacific Coast Highway between the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. One of the buyers said the goal is to “re-create the special feeling of time gone by.” He is even hoping that Harmony’s post office, opened in 1914 and closed in 2008, will be re-opened. Owning property is important to many people and families. In the newspaper read the real estate ads for homes for sale in your community. Pick one you or your family would like. Write the words “My Home” down the side of a sheet of paper. Then write a poem or paragraph explaining why you would like to own the home. Start each line or sentence with a letter of the words “My Home.”
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.
5. Pizza for Fliers
Summer storms recently forced a plane headed to Denver, Colorado to land in Cheyenne, Wyoming, stranding passengers for several hours in the Wyoming state capital. That could have been uncomfortable for the travelers, but the Frontier Airlines pilot came to the rescue by ordering pizza to feed them. He put in a call at 10 p.m. to a Domino’s Pizza and ordered pizzas for 160 people. To fill the order, the Domino’s manager called back the employees he was about to send home, and they made 35 pizzas in about 30 minutes (usually it takes an hour). Then they delivered them to the airport and handed them over to flight attendants. People who do special things to help others often are in the news. In the newspaper or online, find a story about someone who has done this. Read the story and write a paragraph detailing a way others could thank this person for his/her actions.
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.