, week of
Apr 21, 2014
1. Wrongly Jailed 25 years
Jonathan Fleming has been freed after 25 years behind bars, and cleared of a murder that took place while he was at Disney World, 1,100 miles from the murder scene in Brooklyn, N.Y. A key witness has recanted in his case, and a hotel receipt turned up that puts Fleming, now 51, in Florida hours before the killing. He was convicted earlier, despite plane tickets, videos and postcards entered by the defense as evidence he was in Orlando at the time of the 1989 killing of a friend. Criminal cases often are in the news, and how lawyers defend accused people is a key part of the story. Find a story about a criminal case or trial in the newspaper or online. Closely read the story and write a summary of the defense lawyer’s strategy and how effective you think it will be.
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.
2. To Be or Not To Be
William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564. His plays, such as “Romeo and Juliet” and “Hamlet,” proved so enduring that they are still read and taught today and have even been made into modern movies. Shakespeare didn’t come up with all the ideas for his plays on his own. Many of his famous works were based on real events. In teams or pairs, pick an article in the newspaper and write a short play based on the people, events or location in the article. Or just write the opening scene.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.
3. Wrong Hancock
“On the Cover of the Rolling Stone” was a popular song years ago, but it’s back in the news because Julia Louis-Dreyfus has caused controversy for being on the front page of the magazine. It’s not because the actress appears nude (which she does), but because of a faux tattoo on her naked back. It’s supposed to be part of the U.S. Constitution, with John Hancock’s famous signature at the bottom. Except that Hancock didn’t sign the Constitution; he signed the Declaration of Independence. On the TV series “Veep,” Dreyfus plays a bumbling vice president (fully clothed), and Rolling Stone was trying to call attention to the show. The Constitution sets up the U.S. government and in the first 10 amendments outlines some of Americans’ most important rights. As a class, discuss the rights in the first 10 amendments. Then find examples of the rights in the news stories of the newspaper. Pick one and write how the amendment affects daily life.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
4. ‘The Good Grammar Bandit’
A man who has been robbing banks in Denver, Colorado, has been dubbed “The Good Grammar Bandit” by the FBI. The spelling and punctuation in his written demand notes have been perfect. The robber is described as a tall, slender black man, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, hat and sunglasses. He is believed to have robbed three banks this month, fleeing on foot. The FBI will not disclose how much money he has stolen — but his nouns and verbs agree. Knowing correct grammar will help you throughout life, in job applications, consumer communications or any career that requires writing. Practice by writing a letter to apply for a job you find in the Help Wanted section of the newspaper classified ads. Include a summary of your qualifications, skills and goals. Exchange with a classmate and check each other’s grammar and spelling.
Common Core State Standards: Identifying multiple language conventions and using them; recognizing nouns, verbs and modifiers; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task;
5. What a Turnaround
Talk about doing double duty! Not long ago, opera singer Kristine Opolais was awakened by a phone call on a Saturday morning at 7:30, just a few hours after she had sung the title role in “Madama Butterfly” for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Could she return that afternoon to do the lead role of Mimi in “La Boheme?” The scheduled soprano was sick. The lead roles in “Butterfly” and “Boheme” are two of the most tiring and difficult in opera. But without rehearsal, Opolais took the stage before the Met’s 3,800 matinee attendees and a radio and movie-theater audience of 300,000 and played Mimi, a role she had done elsewhere, but not at the Met. Performers often give audiences “something extra” when they perform. In the newspaper, find a performer you like who is known for “extra” effort. Write a review of this performer, detailing why you like him or her.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task 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.