Resources for Teachers and Students
, week of
July 22, 2019
1. Race Turmoil
President Trump has sparked a lot of controversy with his online posts on Twitter, but this month his actions had farther-reaching consequences than ever before. When he “tweeted” that four Democratic minority members of the House of Representatives should “go back” to the countries “from which they came,” he set off a debate about racism that ended with his actions being condemned as “racist” by a vote of the Democratically controlled House. Just four Republicans supported the House resolution, which declared that the President’s “racist comments … have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” The President responded by asserting “I don’t have a racist bone in my body!” and fellow Republicans argued that the resolution represented “harassment” of the President. Three of the four House members were born in the United States and the fourth is a naturalized citizen. President Trump’s controversial tweets about the minority House members continue to generate debate across America. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the latest opinions being expressed on the issue. Use what you read to write a political column for the newspaper, analyzing the controversy and how it might affect the 2020 presidential election. Discuss with family or friends.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
2. Statue in Spotlight
All over the nation communities are taking a new look at statues erected in the past to honor local or national leaders. The latest to get scrutiny is a statue of former President Theodore Roosevelt that has stood for years in front of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Roosevelt was a great supporter of the environment and a backer of the museum. But the statue has drawn criticism in recent years for the way portrays the former president. The statue features Roosevelt sitting high on a horse, flanked by a Native American man and an African man standing below him. Critics say the statue disrespects Native Americans and African Americans by portraying them as lesser figures than the white president. Others say it recalls early American colonialism, which exploited Native and African peoples. To address the controversy, the museum has taken an unusual approach. It has created a special exhibit titled “Addressing the Statue,” which examines the controversy and seeks to put the statue into historical context. Many communities are taking new looks at statues erected in the past, and the effort has generated much debate and discussion. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one effort and what people are saying in response. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, giving your view on whether statues from the past should be re-examined in light of the attitudes and values of today.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
3. What a Wedding!
Weddings are always days to remember, but few newlyweds get memories like those of a couple in the state of Massachusetts. In the middle of Rebecca and Louis Alexander’s wedding reception, a fire broke out at the Lake Pearl Ballroom in the town of Wrentham outside Boston and the entire celebration had to be moved outside. That didn’t faze the bride and groom, however. They moved the DJ and his music outdoors and continued with the party. “Some of our guests were like, the party’s so lit, it’s literally on fire!” Rebecca told WBZ-TV the day after the reception. No one was hurt in the fire, and the newlyweds got a great wedding gift from the Lake Pearl Ballroom – a full refund for their reception and free brunch there for life. At first the new bride said she “was really embarrassed that it didn’t go perfectly, but little did I know, it really did go perfectly.” Milestone events like weddings often become more memorable when unexpected things happen. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a milestone becoming more memorable in this way. Use what you read to create a song commemorating the event. Take the tune of a song you like and re-write the words to fit the event. Then share it with family or friends.
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.
4. Paying for College
Going to college is growing more and more expensive for students across America. But for this coming year at least, families who sign up for federal student loans will get a little relief. The U.S. Treasury Department has announced that for the 2019-2020 academic year, undergraduate students will pay 4.53 percent in interest on new loans, down from 5.05 percent. Interest for graduate students will drop from 6.6 percent to 6.08 percent for new loans. And parents who take out federal loans to help their children attend college will pay 7.08 percent instead of 7.60 percent. In addition to lower interest rates, families that borrow will also benefit from lower loan origination fees for the 2019-2020 school year. Paying for college is a challenge for many families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ways families are dealing with college costs. Use what you read to write a consumer column for the newspaper, offering tips on ways to handle the costs of college.
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.
5. Online Bullying Rises
Bullying is an ongoing problem for students in high school, middle school and even elementary school. And the Internet, cell phones and social media have made electronic bullying a bigger problem than bullying that happens face to face. A new report from federal education officials confirms how widespread online bullying has become. According to the report, 20 percent of students between the ages of 12 and 18 reported being bullied during the 2016-2017 school year (the most recent year for which statistics are available). Among bullied students, there was a 3.5 percent increase in online bullying in just two years, the report found. The researchers did not speculate on why online bullying has spiked, but education experts note that people like to bully online because they can bully anonymously, avoid the emotional consequences and steer clear of physical reactions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the rise in online bullying and how schools and communities are dealing with it. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short video or documentary film examining the problem and possible solutions. Write an outline for your video, including images you would use. 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.
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