1. Labor Day
Monday is Labor Day, a holiday set up to honor and recognize the contributions of workers to the growth and development of the United States. It had its origins in the 1800s when the American labor movement gained recognition for working and bargaining for rights and better wages for workers through labor unions. Today, Labor Day still honors workers, but it is also considered the traditional end of summer, and a time for family gatherings and fun before returning to schools and jobs. Labor Day is always celebrated on the first Monday of September as the last day of the Labor Day weekend. It is both a federal and state holiday. Workers continue to make news as they seek better wages and working conditions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a group of workers seeking to do these things. Use what you read to write a short editorial assessing the merit of the workers’ goals and whether their employer should agree to them.
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. Hero Dogs
Next Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington DC. All over the nation communities will be remembering the attacks, commemorating those who died and honoring the search and rescue teams that looked for survivors. In New York City, two museum exhibits will showcase the search and rescue dogs that sniffed through the Trade Center rubble in search of survivors. At the American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog, an exhibit titled “9/11 Remembered: Search & Rescue Dogs” recognizes dogs that worked at the Trade Center and also at other disasters in the United States and elsewhere in the world. At the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, an exhibit “K-9 Courage” features photographer Charlotte Dumas’s portraits of 15 of the dogs who aided in recovery efforts at ground zero of the Trade Center attack. To remember the September 11 attacks, communities will hold special ceremonies and events this week and next weekend. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about commemorations planned for New York City, Washington, DC or other communities. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor suggesting a way for your community to commemorate and remember the September 11 attacks.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.
3. Little League History
Every summer, the Little League World Series showcases some of the best youth baseball players in the nation. At this year’s tournament in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, history was made at both the beginning and at the end. At the beginning, two of only 20 girls to ever perform in the Series joined together to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Mo’ne Davis of Pennsylvania, who set World Series records by both earning a win and pitching a shutout in the 2014 World Series, threw the pitch to catcher Ella Bruning of Texas, the only girl in this year’s tournament. At the end of the tournament, Michigan's Taylor North team defeated Ohio's Hamilton West Side 5-2 to win the 2021 championship and give the state of Michigan its first title in 62 years. The title game between Michigan and Ohio marked the first time in World Series history that two teams in the same region played each other for the championship. Both are from the Great Lakes Region. Young athletes often make news with unusual or exceptional experiences. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a young athlete doing this. Use what you read to write an outline for a one-minute TV news report about the athlete’s achievement, including images you would show. Then write the report. Read it aloud and time it to make sure it does not go over one minute.
Common Core State Standards: reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. Full Flock Tribute
Around the world, travel has been restricted due to concerns about spreading the coronavirus. In the southern Pacific nation of Australia, travel restrictions made it impossible for farmer Ben Jackson to attend the funeral of a favorite aunt. But then he got creative to pay tribute to Debra Cowdery, who was known to Jackson as “Aunty Deb” and died of cancer at age 63. Because Aunty Deb “had one of the biggest hearts known to me,” he artfully placed grain in a green field and trained a flock of his sheep to gather in the shape of a giant heart. He filmed the gathering from a drone aircraft and set it to the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel. He sent the video to Aunty Deb’s closest family, and it was played at the funeral he could not attend. Then it went viral online. “I think one of the reasons that it has resonated is the fact that we all need to give each other a sort of a virtual hug,” he told The Washington Post newspaper. “We need to share the love a bit, because we were missing out on … milestones [like] … saying goodbye to our loved ones.” To view Ben Jackson’s Aunty Deb tribute, click here. More and more, people use social media to connect with others in positive or uplifting ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such an effort; or find one online yourself. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling about this special connection and explaining why it engages people emotionally.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. Robot Artist
Robots are doing more and more things that only could be done by people in the past. They can assemble and take apart machines, defuse dangerous bombs, fight fires, rescue people and even dance to music when it’s played. Now a robot in the European nation of England is painting pictures. The robot called Ai-Da even has had a museum exhibit of self-portraits she has painted of herself. Ai-Da is powered by artificial intelligence (AI), which is computer programming designed to mimic the intelligence of humans. She is designed to look and act like a human woman with a female voice. Her head and torso look like a mannequin figure from a store window and she wears a variety of dresses and wigs, the Live Science website reports. Her self-portraits are more abstract than realistic, and some have even called them “creepy.” The shape of her head and body are recognizable in the portraits, but the details are expressed in unusual colors and patterns. Self-portraits give artists an opportunity to express how they feel about themselves through style and colors. In the newspaper or online, find and view images of self-portraits created by artists. Make notes on how you think each artist feels about himself/herself based on the portrait. Then use a mirror and draw a self-portrait of yourself expressing how you see yourself or how you would like to be seen. Your artworks can be realistic or abstract. Discuss with family or friends.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.