, week of
Sep. 28, 2015
1. Who You Callin’ ‘Millennial’?
Millennials — people 18-34 years old — have a surprisingly negative view of their own generation, a Pew Research Center study has disclosed. In fact, they view themselves much more negatively than other age groups do. More than half of those who took part in the study describe their generation as “self-absorbed,” almost half say they are “wasteful” and 43 percent say they are “greedy.” Even positive traits don’t get especially marks. The highest-ranking positive traits the millennials see in themselves are “environmentally conscious” (40 percent) and “idealistic” (39 percent). As many as 60 percent say they don’t even consider themselves part of the “millennial generation.” The influence of millennials can be seen in everything from the products they buy to the music they like to the political candidates they support. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about the influence of millennials in these or other areas. Then write the word MILLENNIAL down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the word to start a sentence describing one way the influence of millennials is growing and being felt.
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.
2. Viruses Could ‘Reawaken’
Scientists plan to “wake up” a giant 30,000-year-old virus unearthed in Siberia’s frozen wastelands — but not until they verify that the huge “Frankenvirus” bug cannot cause animal or human disease. At the same time, they are warning that world climate change may awaken dangerous viruses or pathogens in situations that are uncontrolled. Reporting in the journal of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, they note that “a few viral particles … still infectious may be enough, in the presence of a vulnerable host, to revive potentially pathogenic viruses.” Arctic and sub-Arctic areas near the Earth’s North Pole are warming at more than twice the global average, and ice is rapidly melting in many areas. Without “safeguards,” the researchers warn, “we run the risk of … wakening viruses such as smallpox that we thought were eradicated” as the ice melts. Global warming and climate change are having many different effects in different parts of the world. In the newspaper or online, closely read a story about one effect. Then write a short editorial for the newspaper, detailing a way to deal with the effect, or reduce its impact.
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. Reducing Jail Time
Financed by the largest grant in its history —$50 million from the George Soros Foundation — the American Civil Liberties Union is mounting an eight-year campaign to reduce American incarceration rates. There are currently about 2.2 million prisoners in the United States. The ACLU contends tough-on-crime policies have become costly and counter-productive, with widespread drug arrests and severe mandatory sentences boosting the amount of jail time being handed out. These policies do more to damage poor communities than to prevent crime, the ACLU contends, and building more prisons is a bad investment. A better approach would be to find ways to create jobs that would keep people from getting involved in crime and reducing the number of repeat offenders, the ACLU says. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about efforts to reduce crime in your state or community. Use what you read to write an essay analyzing the success of approaches that have been tried and suggesting one approach you think should be tried or given more emphasis.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
4. Vanessa a Miss America Judge
How times change. One of the judges of this year’s Miss America pageant — the head judge, no less — was Vanessa Williams, the only Miss America ever forced to resign. Now a Grammy-nominated singer and Emmy-nominated actress (for “Ugly Betty”), Williams was the first African American ever crowned Miss America in 1983. Then she was forced to give up the crown by the pageant when nude photos from her past appeared in Penthouse magazine. The pageant obviously had a change of heart by inviting her back as a judge, acknowledging that attitudes have changed a lot since 1983. Many attitudes have changed since 1983, or even since 2003. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about issues on which attitudes have changed. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short video or film about changing attitudes. Write an outline for your film and then write the opening 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.
5. Not Driving Is Good
The physical health benefits of walking or biking to work have been well established, but researchers now have concluded there are mental health benefits, too. A new study shows that people who walk or ride a bike experience less stress and are able to concentrate better. According to data compiled over 18 years from experiences of almost 18,000 commuters, those who don’t drive have more “time to relax, read, socialize.” Dealing with stress is an important subject for people who want to live healthy, well-balanced lives. What activities help you “de-stress”? In the newspaper or online, find and read about an activity that helps you reduce stress. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper, showing this “de-stressing” approach in action. Give your strips a creative title.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.