1. Healthy Economy
In judging the health of a nation, an important measure is always how many people are working. With that in mind, the United States is quite healthy indeed, according to the latest statistics. The U.S. Labor Department has just reported that employers added 263,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, the lowest level since December 1969. April was the 103rd straight month that the economy has added jobs and the 31st straight month that the unemployment rate has remained below 5%. In addition, the average hourly wage was up 3.2% compared to a year ago, the Labor Department reported. A healthy economy helps communities in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories discussing how the nation’s healthy economy is having an effect in your state or community. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper analyzing the benefits so far and areas where benefits have not yet been felt. Finish by predicting what you think could happen over the next 12 months.
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.
2. New Words
Scrabble is one of the most popular word games in the world. And it is changing with the times. Recognizing that new words become popular every year, Scrabble has added nearly 3,000 of them to its dictionary. That raises the number of words acceptable for playing the game to 279,000, Scrabble officials said. The new words come from all aspects of life — slang, technology, politics and gender identity. “Instagram,” “bingeable” and “mansplaining” are among new words added to the dictionary. So are “bae,” “wordie” and “antivaxxer.” Even so, a short word may be getting the biggest reaction among Scrabble fans. “OK,” short for “okay,” is now acceptable, after years of being banned from the Scrabble dictionary. Newspapers and the Internet are great places to find new words and build vocabulary. In the newspaper or online, find words that are new or unfamiliar to you. Use what you find to create a poster showcasing five or six of these words. Look up the definitions and include them on your poster. Pick a photo or illustration to go with each word. Give your poster an eye-catching title.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
3. Restaurants Fight Warming
All over the world, scientists and businesses are looking for ways to reduce global warming and slow down climate change. In the state of California, a new program seeks to involve the state’s restaurants to reduce greenhouse gases that warm the atmosphere. Restaurants that participate in the Restore California Renewable Restaurant program will do that by adding a 1% fee to every diner’s check to support farmers whose practices reduce the gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, CNN News reports. The money would go into a public fund to support farmers using “green” farming practices, and help them stay competitive with large agricultural operations that do not practice “green” farming. People all over the world are trying new things to address global warming and slow down climate change. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different approaches. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a documentary film about different approaches people are trying. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use and what you would feature in the opening scene. Choose an actor or public figure you would like to be the narrator of your film.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
4. Ancient Evidence
Researchers seeking to understand ancient species have long looked to fossils for clues about what they were like. A discovery in the European nation of Russia is providing a dramatic new kind of evidence. Russian researchers have found liquid blood and urine inside the frozen carcass of a baby horse that died about 42,000 years ago. The animal’s body fluids were extracted and tested in the hope they could be used to clone the extinct species, but it is uncertain if that can be done. The remains of the horse foal were found embedded in the permafrost of the Batagaika crater in Russia’s province of Siberia. They were discovered by hunters seeking tusks from ancient mammoths, which were ancestors of today’s elephants. Scientists are constantly making new discoveries that change what people know about different topics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a discovery like this. Use what you read to write a science column for the newspaper, assessing the importance of the discovery.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. No to Styrofoam
Food containers create a huge amount of trash pollution in the United States and around the world. Some states have tried to reduce this pollution by banning plastic bags and straws, and now the state of Maine has taken a step no other state has tried. The state in the northeast corner of the nation has become the first to ban food containers made of Styrofoam. The ban will take effect on January 1, 2021 under a new law signed by Governor Janet Mills this month. The law will prohibit businesses from distributing foods in containers made of Styrofoam, which is also known as polystyrene. Mills said she signed the bill because Styrofoam cannot be recycled in many states and breaks down into tiny “microplastics” that can pollute oceans and endanger wildlife. Styrofoam containers are among the top 10 most commonly littered items in the United States. States often pass laws to address problems in new ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a state passing such a law to address a problem. Use what you read to write a short editorial, analyzing what the law seeks to achieve and whether you think it is a sound approach. If not, suggest an alternative approach you think would be 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.