1. Holiday Season
December is here, so that means it’s time to get the holiday spirit. Three major holidays are celebrated in December — Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. And for many people, that means giving and receiving gifts. As a class, talk about favorite gifts you have given or received in the past. Then use ads in the newspaper or online to find gifts you would like to give family and friends, and gifts you would like receive. Don’t worry about prices when doing your “shopping,” but think carefully about the reasons you would like to give or receive the gifts you choose. Make a list of gifts you would choose for family or friends and write a reason for choosing each one. Then make a list of gifts you would like to receive and write a reason for each. Share lists with the class.
Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
2. Sing with the Police!
As in other cities, police in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania sometimes struggle to connect with the communities they serve. But two officers serving the West Philadelphia neighborhood have come up with an unusual way to reach out. They’re using their musical talents for a weekly “Karaoke with a Cop” program that gets people singing, laughing and dancing together on a busy and popular street corner. The idea for the Karaoke outreach came from Officers Justin Harris and Shamssadeen Nur Ali Baukman, who both grew up in the West Philly neighborhood. Baukman first got the idea when he had to break up a block party, and started singing to get the crowd’s attention. Later, at a community outreach program, he proposed making Karaoke a weekly thing. A local DJ joined the officers to drum up interest and “the rest is history,” Baukman says. The “Karaoke with a Cop” program was designed to help people get to know police officers in a positive way. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other ways people are getting to know police in a positive way. Use what you read to write a short editorial telling how such efforts help police and help the community.
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.
3. Helping Koalas
In the southern Pacific nation of Australia, dry “bush” areas are being consumed by deadly wildfires driven by high winds. That has posed a threat to people who live there, but also to wildlife. Most significantly, the fires are threatening koala bears, the symbol of Australia to people around the world. Koala habitats are in the middle of areas being threatened by “bushfires,” and wildlife experts fear hundreds of koalas could be lost. To help save the koalas, special dogs trained to smell them have been put to work finding koalas so that they can be rescued before fire strikes their areas. The dogs can pick up the scent of koala fur or koala droppings known as “scat.” They then alert human rescuers who search the treetops for threatened or stressed koalas. Koalas are now considered an endangered species by international wildlife groups. The rescue efforts for koala bears are an example of people working to help wild animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people helping wild animals in another way. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor explaining why this is important to the wild animal and how it could inspire people to help wild animals in your community. What kind of help could they provide?
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. A Marvel-ous Record
Marvel Comics have been around for 80 years and have attracted millions of fans with characters like Spider-Man, Black Panther and Captain America. This month one of those fans made history — in a very big way. The fan paid a record $1.26-million for the first Marvel comic book ever. The book, called “Marvel Comics 1,” was released in 1939 and featured Marvel characters such as Human Torch, Angel, Sub-Mariner and the Masked Raider. The comic was first bought by a mail carrier in Uniontown, Pennsylvania and is the “finest known copy” in the world. The $1.26-million selling price is the most ever paid for a Marvel comic book. The name of the buyer was not released. In comic books, superheroes often have to deal with problems and events that happen in real life. Think like a comic book writer and read a story in the newspaper or online about a real-life problem or challenge facing people. Write a paragraph explaining how a popular superhero might deal with the problem. Draw a picture of the superhero in action.
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.
Like the leaders of other countries, officials in the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia worry that their children spend too much time on the Internet. Unlike other nations, leaders of one Indonesian city have launched an unusual program to get students away from their iPhones and tablets. Under the program in the city of Bandung, students are being given chickens and plant seeds in the hope they will spend more time caring for their chicks and plants than playing games online. To start the program city officials have given away 2,000 baby chicks and 1,500 seeds for chili plants to students in 10 elementary schools and two junior highs. So far, parents have supported the effort, which they have nicknamed the “chickenization” project. The “chickenization” project seeks to reduce the time students spend online by giving them other activities to do raising chickens and plants. With a partner, find and closely read stories about activities kids could do to reduce the time they spend online. Pick activities that involve being outdoors, learning about nature or being active. Brainstorm an idea for a TV ad to get students to want to try these activities. Write an outline for your ad, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene. Share with the class and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.