1. Big Time Debt
Americans aren't the only ones in debt. Entire countries are finding themselves overwhelmed with debt and facing economic meltdowns. According to a report from CNBC, "external debt is a measure of a nation's foreign liabilities, capital plus interest that the government and institutions within a nation's borders must eventually pay. This number not only includes government debt, but also debt owed by corporations and individuals to entities outside their home country." This month U.S. lawmakers have been searching for ways to either cut spending or raise the amount of debt allowed. Other countries like Greece, Hungary, Australia, Italy, and Germany are in the same situation. Search the newspaper for stories on national debt in the United States or another country. Using the articles, discuss with your family if you agree or disagree with the solutions suggested in the stories. Then write a list of your own solutions.
Learning Standard: Addressing a public issue by suggesting alternative solutions or courses of action and propose an action to address the issue or resolve the problem.
2. Bugs that Really Bug You
The summer season is bringing mosquitoes to many parts of the United States. While the pests are mostly known for causing itchy bites, they can also transmit serious diseases, such as West Nile Virus. Look through today's newspaper for other diseases that can be transmitted by insects or animals, or find examples on the Internet. Create a public service newspaper advertisement for your peers that explains the causes, symptoms and effects of one disease.
Learning Standards: Describing technology used in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases; representing creatively.
3. Civil Rights
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal rights and equal protection of the law for all citizens. It was certified as an amendment to the Constitution on July 28, 1868. However, it took many years for African Americans and women to gain full rights in day to day to life. Now members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community are fighting for their rights to be treated equally. Several states, including New York, have legalized gay marriages, and California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a bill "making California the first state in the nation to add lessons about gays and lesbians in social studies classes in public schools," according to an Associated Press report. Find a newspaper article about a group of people fighting for their rights in the United States or another country. Discuss the story with family or friends and talk about what role individuals and the public can play in making laws and policies regarding civil rights.
Learning Standard: Evaluating the actual influence of public opinion on public policies; engaging peers in constructive conversations about topics of interest or importance.
4. Reaching Out
The next time you come home from school and tell your mom you're starving, think of the children in African country of Somalia. Currently, Somalia is facing a drought that could result in "a fully-fledged humanitarian catastrophe," according to an Agence France-Presse article. Thousands of Somalis are fleeing their country to neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya, searching for food and water. Many are dying along the way. Aid workers say they aren't able to meet all the needs of the victims of the drought. Search the newspaper for news articles about the drought in Africa and the famine in Somalia. Or find examples online. Give copies of the article to several of your friends to educate them on the situation. Then come up with a service project to help the starving children.
Learning Standards: Acquiring information from a variety of written, electronic and visual texts; participating in a service-learning project, reflecting upon the experience and evaluating the value of the experience to the American ideal of participation.
5. In My Opinion
There are many types of articles in newspapers. There are hard news stories of local, national and international importance, as well as stories that focus on human interest, arts, sports and business. But one or two pages in the paper are set aside for editorials. Unlike news stories, which reflect the thoughts of others, the opinion pages reflect just that: opinions about news. Search the opinion pages in your newspaper. Read several editorials or opinion columns. Then, find a news story you feel strongly about. Using the editorials as a guide, write your own editorial about issues in the news story.
Learning Standard: Identifying the characteristics of an editorial versus a news article; using the persuasive power of text to express opinions.