1. Hurricane Recovery
For the second year in a row, the states of North and South Carolina have been hammered by a September hurricane working its way up the coast of the southeastern United States. Last year, it was Hurricane Florence; this year it was Hurricane Dorian. With Florence, torrential rain caused widespread freshwater flooding. Dorian brought “destructive winds, flooding rains, and life-threatening storm surges” of ocean water, according to the National Hurricane Center. Now residents and communities are faced with the challenge of cleaning up, repairing damage and recovering. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about recovery efforts. Make a list of problems that communities face and what work needs to be done to overcome them. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor describing one problem and what needs to be done to deal with it. Finish by suggesting ways that people in your community could help affected areas deal with hurricane problems.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.
2. ‘Happiness’ Surprise
The Jonas Brothers have been drawing thousands of fans this summer to the concerts in their “Happiness Begins” tour. This month they made one fan extremely happy, even though she didn’t attend their show. Sixteen-year-old Lily Jordan would have gone if she could, but she is getting chemotherapy treatment for cancer at Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, Pennsylvania. When the band came to town to play at Hersheypark Stadium, Lily jokingly took to Instagram to invite them to visit. “I was supposed to be at your Hershey concert tomorrow but instead I’m across the street doing chemo,” Lily wrote. “If y’all wanted to pop in I'll give you my room number.” Then the power of social media took over. Friends and followers began sharing the post and tagging the Jonas Brothers. It went viral and even a local state representative reached out to the band online. The effort did not go for naught. The Jonas Brothers surprised Lily before their Hershey show by popping for a visit. “Thank you for inviting us to come see you,” Kevin Jonas told Lily in a video posted on the hospital’s Facebook page. CNN News reported that Lily later posted about the surprise visit on Instagram. “The power of social media you guys. YOU did this. YOU made my … chemo session into something incredibly special and unforgettable.” Celebrities often do kind things for others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one example. Use what you read to write a personal opinion column discussing why it is important for celebrities to reach out this way, and how it could inspire others to reach out or give back to their 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. ‘Hands-On’ Learning
It’s often said that the best way to learn something is to just do it. With such “hands-on” learning, people get to pick up the skills they need by working through real-world problems. It’s safe to say no one has ever had a hands-on learning experience like a student pilot in the southern Pacific nation of Australia. In his very first flying lesson, Max Sylvester was forced to fly the plane himself when his instructor blacked out more than 6,200 feet above the ground. With instruction from air traffic controllers at Perth’s Jandakot Airport, Sylvester carefully kept the wings level, circled the airport and descended to make an “amazing” solo landing, AFP News reported. It wasn’t pretty — the plane made some hard bumps when hitting the ground — but it got the job done. “You did it, mate!” exclaimed the air traffic controller. “Well done. That’s amazing!” There are many ways to “learn by doing” with “hands-on” learning. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone learning something in a “hands-on” way. Use what you read to write a paragraph analyzing what “hands-on” learning provides that classroom or book instruction does not. Finish by describing an activity you would like to learn in a “hands-on” way.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. No Hits for You
In 15 years in the Major Leagues, Justin Verlander has proved over and over that he is one of the best pitchers in baseball. This summer, at age 36, he has demonstrated he still can dominate opponents. Just ask the Toronto Blue Jays. On September 1, he held them without a hit to record the third no-hitter of his career. On top of that, he recorded 14 strikeouts in his milestone 2-0 victory. Verlander is just the sixth pitcher in Major League history to record at least three career no-hitters. Only Nolan Ryan (seven) and Sandy Koufax (four) have thrown more no-hitters — and they are both in baseball’s Hall of Fame. This month’s no-hitter was Verlander’s second against Toronto. His first came in 2011. He also threw a no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007. Pitching a no-hitter is an extraordinary achievement in sports. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another athlete doing something extraordinary in sports. Use what you read to write a sports column discussing what kind of skills and character it took for the athlete to perform this noteworthy feat.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
5. Green Travel
People love to travel, and these days more and more of them want to “go green” when they do it. Now supporters of green travel have gotten a boost from one of the most popular members of Britain’s Royal Family. Prince Harry has announced he will lead a worldwide initiative to promote green and sustainable travel. The plan, called Travalyst, will bring travel companies, consumers, communities and nations together to make the tourism industry more environmentally responsible. It seeks to educate people about sustainable travel, “overtourism” at sensitive sites and the importance of protecting cultural heritage as well as natural environments at travel destinations. Travalyst also will teach people ways to reduce the “carbon footprint” of travel by traveling less by plane and choosing “green” alternatives that have less impact on the environment or produce fewer greenhouse gases. Prince Harry’s Travalyst project seeks to improve the world’s environment by promoting sustainable travel. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another project seeking to improve the environment. Use what you read to write an editorial for the newspaper, detailing what this project seeks to achieve, why that could be important and what will be required to make it successful.
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.