, week of
Mar. 02, 2015
1. Smart Phone Thefts Declining
Smart phone thefts have dropped drastically since the introduction of remote-access “kill switches” that allow users to lock phones if they are lost or stolen. A study shows that the number of stolen iPhones has dropped 25 percent in New York City, 40 percent in San Francisco, California, and 50 percent in London, England. Mayors of the three cities are lobbying for local laws that would require remote-kill switches on every smart phone sold. In 2012, 1.6 million Americans reported stolen handheld devices, and in some California cities, smart phone thefts accounted for more than half of all crimes reported. The introduction of kill switches was an example of technology being used to deal with a problem. In the newspaper or online, find and read another story about technology solving a problem. Write a summary of what is being done, how it is an improvement and how it will help people or communities.
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. A Submarine in Space?
Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has large lakes of liquid ethane and methane gas, and America’s NASA space agency wants to explore them with a specially-designed submarine. Scientists believe it will be at least five years before the mission is possible on the ringed planet about 2 billion miles from Earth. Titan is similar to a very young Earth, scientists say, and is the only moon in our solar system with a significant atmosphere. It also has its own “methane cycle” similar to the Earth’s water cycle that turns water from liquid to gas and back again. Space missions still capture the imagination of people interested in space or our solar system. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about a space mission. Then write an outline for the plot of a film, video or short story based on the news story. Come up with a creative title and write the first scene.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
3. Jailed for Facebook Words
“Acts harmful to the country’s relations with a friendly nation” apparently are a crime in the Middle East nation of Jordan. That’s what led to a guilty verdict for a man named Zaki Bani Rashaid from the Jordan’s state security court, which has jurisdiction over things the country considers internal and external threats. Rashaid is deputy head in Jordan of the Muslim Brotherhood, which several countries in the Middle East want to wipe out, including the United Arab Emirates. When Rashaid used his Facebook page to criticize the Emirates, Jordan arrested him, tried him and sentenced him to 18 months in prison. Needless to say, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan condemned the verdict as “a blow to freedom of speech and the rights of citizens.” Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the United States by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In the newspaper or online, find examples of five ways that people could exercise freedom of speech. Draw five comic strips illustrating each way.
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; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.
4. Trying to Save a Butterfly
Billions of monarch butterflies once fluttered throughout the United States, but since 1990, about 970 million have vanished. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, partnering with private conservation groups, now wants to save the monarchs by growing more of their favorite food, milkweed. The butterflies’ decline is attributed to farmers and homeowners spraying herbicides on milkweed plants. Monarchs are famous for their migrations from the U.S and Canada to Mexico and back. When the butterflies fly back from their winters in Mexico, they rest and feed on the nectar of milkweed. Conservation efforts for plants and wildlife can take many forms. In the newspaper or online, closely read a story about a conservation effort. Then write a short editorial for the newspaper giving your opinion on the value of the conservation effort.
Common Core State Standards: Closely reading what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
5. Tiger on Leave
Tiger Woods was once the greatest golfer in America, but in recent years he has been struggling. Now he has announced he is taking an indefinite leave from competitive golf to work on his game. “I need a lot of work,” he said, and he has been playing the worst golf of his career. Woods had hoped to top Jack Nicklaus’s record of winning 18 major championships, but he has not had a major victory in seven years. He has won 14 championships, including four Masters tournaments. Pro athletes often go through slumps, and try lots of things to get out of them. In the newspaper or online read a story about an athlete who is struggling. Write a paragraph explaining why he/she is struggling and what is being tried to correct the problems. Write a second paragraph proposing another way you think might correct the problems.
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; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.