, week of
Dec. 16, 2013
1. Teens Build Spacecraft
High school students in the state of Virginia have developed a satellite that actually has gone into space. The TJCubeSat, which took off on the back of a Minotaur rocket from NASA’s Wallops Island facility, took seven years to build and involved more than 50 students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in the city of Alexandria. The satellite will receive messages the students send to it in space and rebroadcast them around the globe on ham radio. Equipped with a voice synthesizer that is able to interpret words phonetically, it may be able to distribute messages in any language. Milestones in science or space exploration often are in the news. In the newspaper or online, find a story about one. Read the story closely to gain understanding of the milestone. Then write a paragraph or short essay explaining its significance.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
2. Ancient Wine Cellar
Archaeologists in the Middle East nation of Israel have unearthed a wine cellar in the ruins of a 3,700-year-old Canaanite palace — a storage room holding the remains of 40 three-foot-tall ceramic jars. A chemical analysis of the jars detected traces of acids that are popular in winemaking, as well as honey, mint, cinnamon bark, juniper berries and resins used as preservatives. The room, which held the equivalent of about 3,000 bottles, was adjacent to the banquet hall in the palace, which was destroyed about 3,600 years ago, perhaps in an earthquake. Archaeologists study artifacts from the past to determine how ancient people lived. Scan the ads in the newspaper today and make a list of 10 items that would tell future archaeologists how people live today. Use what you find to write a short, creative story about life in your community today.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.
3. Authors vs. Google
Google has won a legal victory that could pave the way for the Internet search company to continue its quest to scan the world’s books. A New York federal judge has dismissed a class-action lawsuit against Google from a group representing book authors. The Authors Guild had charged that Google’s online library violates “fair use” of copyrighted works by providing snippets of works. It was seeking $750 for each copyrighted work made digital, a huge sum, considering that Google has scanned more than 20 million books. The judge’s decision is expected to be appealed. Copyright protections were established in U.S. Constitution to protect the rights of inventors, authors, artists and other creators of “useful arts.” As a class, discuss why copyrights are important for creators of products or other works. Use the discussion to draw an editorial cartoon for the newspaper offering your view on the Google court decision.
Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
4. Annie the Superstar
Annie Oakley was a sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and America’s first female superstar. Her life was the inspiration for the movie and Broadway show called “Annie Get Your Gun,” and now she’s back in the news. Her 16-gauge Parker Bros. Hammer shotgun has been sold for $293,000 to an anonymous buyer at an auction in Dallas, Texas. The weapon — and a charm bracelet purchased by a different buyer for $245,000 — were sold by the grandniece of the legendary sharpshooter, who died in 1926. Movies, plays and TV shows are often based on the real lives of people. In the newspaper, find a person (famous or not) whose life would make a good movie. Write a film “treatment” for the movie, summarizing the beginning, middle and ending of the life story. Give your treatment a title that would attract attention.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.
5. Wanted: Young Teachers
A public service campaign is under way to recruit a new generation of classroom teachers. The campaign, called “Teach,” has been undertaken by the U.S. Department of Education, the Advertising Council, Microsoft, State Farm Insurance, teachers unions and the Teach for America group. Through video spots and radio ads, the campaign seeks to attract high-achieving college graduates to replace the estimated one million teachers retiring in the next four to six years. The goal is to encourage teaching as a career-long commitment. As a class, talk about the talents and qualities that make good teachers and how schools can attract people with those talents and qualities. Write a short editorial for the newspaper urging talented young people to join the teaching profession. Give specific reasons to support your argument.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; 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.