1. More January 6 Hearings
Public hearings examining the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building last year will continue this week before a select committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. The hearings began last week with a nationally televised hearing focusing on who took part in the assault, what they did and how they were inspired or supported by the words of former President Trump. Trump had refused to accept that he had lost the election to current President Joe Biden and was urging supporters to prevent certification of the vote by the U.S. House and Senate as they met in joint session on January 6, 2021. Hearings taking place on Monday and Wednesday this week will further examine Trump’s actions with a combination of testimony from witnesses and multi-media presentations of evidence the select committee has gathered in its investigation. The evidence includes videos never seen before of the actions of participants in the assault inside the Capitol building. The House hearings on the January 6 assault last year are putting a new spotlight on the actions of former President Trump, his supporters and his advisors. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the hearings this week. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing what information from the hearings has been the most surprising, important or dramatic — and what long-term effect the hearings will have politically. Discuss as a class.
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.
2. Father-Son Politics
It’s often said that politics can be a family affair. Sons and daughters follow older relatives into the field, and then win election to government offices on their own. In the United States, two of the most famous political families are the Bushes and the Kennedys, who between them have produced three presidents, governors, members of Congress and more. A new chapter of family politics could be written this fall in the state of New Jersey, when voters have an opportunity to send a son to join his father in Congress in Washington, DC. And they both are named Robert Menendez! The senior Robert Menendez is a Democratic U.S. senator whose term runs through 2025. Robert Menendez Jr. has just won the Democratic primary for the U.S. House seat his father once held in new Jersey’s 8th Congressional District. The younger Menendez is a lawyer making his first run for political office at age 36 and is heavily favored to win the traditionally Democratic seat. The senior Menendez, 68, is chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. Primary elections are being held in states across the country to choose candidates for this year’s elections in November. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one significant contest. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing why this election is important to its state, or the nation.
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. ‘Ms. Marvel’
Movies and TV shows based on the characters from Marvel Comics books have been some of the most popular in history. But the new “Ms. Marvel” TV show is making history in another way. It is the first Marvel show or movie to feature a Muslim superhero — a Pakistani-American teenager named Kamala Khan, who discovers she has superhero powers when she dresses up for a Marvel comic convention. The young adult show, which started airing on the Disney+ channel last week, follows 16-year-old Kamala as she navigates her life, family and expanding powers. It is serving as an introduction to the Ms. Marvel character before she appears next year in a new movie called “The Marvels” featuring her female hero, Captain Marvel. Movie characters can sometimes be more important than players in a plot. They can also break down barriers or serve as inspiration for people or groups. As a class, discuss characters you have seen in movies that had greater significance than being part of a plot line. Then use the newspaper or Internet to read stories about a character like this. Use what you read to write a letter to a younger student telling why this character was a trailblazer, role model or inspiration.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.
4. Unusual Recycling
With landfills filling up all over the world, communities and private businesses are constantly looking for ways to recycle waste materials into useful products. In the state of Massachusetts, a company has found a way to recycle plastic bottles — and oyster shells! — into soft and warm sweaters. The Long Wharf Supply Company makes the sweaters by combining crushed oyster shells and plastic with natural lamb’s wool or cotton to make yarn for sweaters. Every sweater diverts 5 oyster shells and 8 water bottles from landfills, the company says. The sweaters aren’t cheap — starting at around $125 apiece — but through charitable partnerships, a portion of proceeds from every sweater helps to re-seed natural oyster beds in the ocean. “To date, we’ve helped re-seed more than 250,000 oysters, which can naturally filter 12.5-million gallons of seawater every day,” the company says. More and more companies and communities are looking for ways to recycle more creatively and effectively. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one such effort. Use what you read to create a poster showing this unusual recycling effort in action.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
5. Iguanas in Trouble
The British Virgin Islands are a territory in the Caribbean Sea made up of four main islands and many smaller ones. The islands are known for their beaches, coral reefs and rain forests and feature some unusual wildlife. One of the most unusual species is the Anegada rock iguana, a lizard on Anegada island that can grow up to five feet long and weigh more than 15 pounds. When the rock iguanas are full grown, they can be fierce, but when they are little, they have trouble protecting themselves from predators. Many are eaten by native snakes and birds just after hatching from eggs laid by adult females. And if they survive that, they face another deadly predator — wild cats. The cats were brought to Anegada by early settlers and have taken over the island, because they have no natural predators. The cats eat young rock iguanas and have caused a huge drop in the iguana population, the Washington Post newspaper reports. To keep the rock iguanas from becoming extinct, wildlife officials have been collecting them after they hatch and raising them in captivity until they are big enough to defend themselves from cats. “We’ve doubled the population on Anegada, and that sounds great,” said one wildlife leader. But unless the wild cats are removed “it’s not enough.” Wildlife species often need help from humans to survive in their natural habitats. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a wildlife species that needs help. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining ways people could help this species, and which you think would be the most effective.
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.