Resources for Teachers and Students
, week of
Mar. 08, 2021
1. Goodbye, Seuss Books
Dr. Seuss has long been one of the world’s most popular and beloved writers of children’s books. But in the first half of his career, he used images to portray Black, Asian and other people in ways that would be considered “hurtful and wrong” today, according to the company that publishes Seuss books. To correct that, Dr. Seuss Enterprises has announced that six of Dr. Seuss’s books will no longer be published. The books being shelved permanently include the first book Theodor Geisel published under the name Dr. Seuss: “And to Think that I Saw it in Mulberry Street.” Others being pulled from publication are “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer,” a quiz book based on “The Cat in the Hat.” The portrayals of Asians and Blacks in the books were common at the time they were published, but are considered offensive today. In the books, Asians are portrayed with exaggerated, slanted eyes and yellow skin and Blacks with exaggerated features and bodies that resemble monkeys. The decision to pull six Dr. Seuss books from publication reflects how changing attitudes have affected the way people think about materials from the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an organization making a decision because of changing attitudes. Use what you read to write an editorial giving your view on whether the decision was a good one, or whether another approach would have been better.
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.
2. Chariot Discovery
In the ancient Roman Empire, chariots were used for battles, travel, parades, races and other competitions. Pulled by horses they could be simple in design or very elaborate. One of the more elaborate examples ever found has been discovered in the Italian city of Pompeii, where it had been buried for nearly 2,000 years under volcanic ash. Pompeii was famously destroyed in the year 79 C.E. when the volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted. The newly discovered chariot was a four-wheeled ceremonial vehicle, with iron and bronze decorations on its wooden frame. It was found in a covered portico outside a stable where the remains of three horses were previously found under the ash. Officials said the find is the first ceremonial chariot unearthed in its entirety and “an exceptional discovery.” Archaeological digs often unearth materials that offer new information about the way people lived or worked in the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such a dig. Use what you read to write a paragraph detailing how the dig was done, what it discovered and why that is important to archaeologists. Draw an illustration to go with your paragraph.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
3. What a Coat!
Sheep that live on farms usually get annual “haircuts” to keep their woolly coats in check. But what would happen if they didn’t? A merino sheep roaming wild in the southern Pacific nation of Australia recently was captured and proved how out of control their coats could get. The male ram was wearing a thick, matted coat that weighed a whopping 78 pounds — about three times what a ram would grow between shearings on a farm. When the sheep was standing, only his hooves and a small section of his lower legs were visible; when he lay down, his legs disappeared entirely. The amount of wool removed from the sheep would be enough to knit about 61 sweaters or 490 pairs of men's socks, The Guardian newspaper reported. The wool weighed about as much as a 10-year-old child. Animals often make news for unusual behavior. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one such animal. Use what you read as the starting point for a creative story about the animal and what its behavior could lead to. Give your story a title that would make students your age want to read it.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
4. Elephant-Sized Sleepover
How would you like to spend a night with an elephant? Or even more exotically, how would you like to spend a night INSIDE an elephant that stands six stories tall, and overlooks a seaside beach and the Atlantic Ocean? In the town of Margate, New Jersey, guests have had a chance to book an overnight stay on special occasions the last two years inside Lucy the Elephant, a landmark that has been charming visitors for 139 years. Last March the organization offered an opportunity to sleep inside the landmark as a fund-raising event to preserve the wooden structure built in 1881. The promotion was so successful it was repeated for Valentine’s Day this year. Future overnight opportunities have yet to be announced, but visitors can tour the 65-foot landmark on weekends. And every July Margate hosts a toenail-painting celebration for Lucy, in which the nail color is chosen by an online vote of fans. Lucy the Elephant is an unusual attraction on the New Jersey shore. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories, ads or photos of other unusual attractions in your state or elsewhere. Pick one and research how it came to be. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a documentary film telling the story of this unusual attraction. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Pick a celebrity narrator for your film and explain your choice.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
A bad haircut can ruin your day, or even several days if it’s really awful. That happened to a middle school student in Indianapolis, Indiana, and he almost got in trouble for putting a hat over it when he came to class. He was rescued by his principal. Wearing a hat in school is against the rules at Stonybrook Middle School, and when student Anthony Moore refused to remove his, he was sent to the dean’s office, CNN News reported. After about a half hour Principal Jason Smith was called in. He discovered that Anthony wouldn’t remove his hat because his parents had taken him for a haircut and he was embarrassed by the result. Both Smith and Anthony are African American, and had similar taste in hairstyles. The principal said he could understand that Anthony would want his hair to look right, and then he surprised the student. He told him he had been cutting hair since he was a teenager and offered to touch up the student’s. Anthony agreed and after getting the OK from his parents, Smith went home to get his clippers. He quickly fixed the lines of the cut that were bothering the middle schooler and Anthony went back to class — without his hat. Principals and teachers often go “above and beyond” to help students or address concerns that students have. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a principal/teacher doing this. Write a letter to the editor telling how this action improved school spirit or culture at the school for other students.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.