1. No Homework!
In a school district in the state of Florida, 20,000 elementary students have gotten great news for the start of the school year. They won’t have to do nightly homework. The leader of the Marion County school district has banned homework for all elementary school students and is instead asking parents to read to their children for 20 minutes every night. School Superintendent Heidi Maier said she made the decision because new research has found that reading to a child has more positive effects than homework, and young children do better in school when given a break from the daily demand of classes. Elementary students still will have to do research projects as homework from time to time. Friends often suggest good books to read. Think of books you have liked that you would recommend to friends for reading with their parents. Write a short book column for the newspaper suggesting three books for family reading — and why you like them.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
2. Here’s Your Purse!
A woman who lost her purse at South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell got it back this month — 25 years after she lost it! April Bolt’s purse was stolen from her husband’s boat at a dock in 1992 when they went out to dinner with her parents. This summer, a local man fishing with an 11-year-old relative hooked Bolt’s purse and reeled it in. Amazingly, when Ben Meyers opened the purse, he recognized Bolt’s name on the credit cards and contacted her. Except for some lost money, everything was as it had been when she had lost the purse, including credit cards from stores that no longer exist and baby pictures of her son. Unusual or odd events from the news often can inspire creative stories for books, TV or movies. With family or friends, use the newspaper or Internet to find and read a story about an unusual event. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a story that would begin right after the event, or just before it happened. Write the opening of your story.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
3. This Hawk’s a Star
Tennis star Roger Federer set a new record this month when he won his eighth men’s championship at the Wimbledon tennis tournament in the European nation of Great Britain. But he’s not the only figure who has turned in top performances year after year. For the last 10 years, a trained hawk named Rufus has earned fame and a following for keeping pigeons off the surfaces of Wimbledon’s famous grass courts. Every morning at 5 a.m. during the tournament, Rufus is set loose to patrol the grounds and scare away pigeons, which sometimes can interrupt play by pecking at grass seed on the surfaces. “Rufus … is the chief pigeon scarer here at Wimbledon,” his handler Imogen Davis told CNN news. As a trained hawk, Rufus has many fans, including stars like Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal and 10,000 followers on Twitter. Animals and birds often can be trained to do unusual or interesting things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one. Use what you read, to draw a series of comic strips about the animal or bird, how it was trained or what it does.
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.
4. Africa’s Tallest Tower
In the African nation of Kenya, a skyscraper being built in the city of Nairobi will set a record as the tallest building on the entire African continent. The foundation stone for a building to be known as “The Pinnacle” was laid recently as part of a two-tower, $200 million project that will include a hotel, residences, businesses and leisure facilities. The Pinnacle tower will be 984 feet tall, the same height as the world famous Eiffel Tower in France. While the tower will be the tallest in Africa, it is well short of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. In New York City, for example, the One World Trade Center soars 1,776 feet and the Empire State Building is 1,250 feet high. The world’s tallest building is the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, which rises to a height of 2,717 feet in the Middle East city of Dubai. Every community has buildings that stand out. In the newspaper or online, find photos or stories about a building that stands out in your city or state. Use what you find to write a paragraph describing why the building stands out and why people in the community like it.
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.
5. Wow! A Solar Eclipse
People who follow the sun, the moon and the planets will get a special treat later this summer. On August 21, the moon will pass between the sun and the Earth, casting a shadow over much of the United States in a complete solar eclipse. The eclipse is the first in 100 years to cross the entire continental United States, making it a once-in-a-lifetime attraction for astronomers. Due to the moon’s orbit around the Earth, the eclipse shadow will first be observed in the state of Oregon in the Pacific Northwest and sweep across the country to South Carolina in the southeast corner of the country. Solar eclipses get a lot of attention because they are unusual events. With family or friends, use the newspaper or Internet to read about the solar eclipse coming on August 21. Use what you read to write a short TV news report, telling people how to watch, what to look for and things they may not know about solar eclipses.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.