1. Black Heroes Tattoo
Lonzo Ball may not yet be a star in the National Basketball Association, but he’s sure to be a star for Black History Month next February. Ball, who plays point guard for the New Orleans Pelicans, has unveiled an elaborate sleeve tattoo that pays tribute to inspiring figures in African American history. The sleeve, which covers his entire left arm, features images of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman and Barack Obama. It also includes a message that states “The Marathon Continues” — a note recognizing that the quest for civil rights and equal treatment for African Americans is still going on. Ball was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers but was traded to the Pelicans in the deal that sent superstar Anthony Davis to the Lakers. With his sleeve tattoo, Lonzo Ball has honored great African American leaders from the past. What African American leaders of today will be worthy of honors in the future? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an African American leader who could earn honors in the future. Use what you read to write an opinion column explaining why you think this leader could deserve honors in future years. Discuss with family or friends.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
2. Innovative Outreach
Throughout history, churches have been centers for community activities and connections. In recent years, however, many churches have seen a decline in both members and visitors. This summer, the second oldest cathedral in the European nation of England has embraced an unusual and innovative approach to attract visitors. Rochester Cathedral, which dates back more than 1,400 years in Southern England, has installed a miniature golf course in the central nave of the church to attract families and young people. The nine-hole course has been set up as an educational activity, telling the stories of historic bridges in the area. But not all church leaders like the idea. One called it “an embarrassing shambles,” while another said it was “a really serious mistake.” The leaders at Rochester, however, say it has had a positive impact, with the number of summer visitors up 80 percent over last year. “It’s absolutely wonderful,” said the Rev. Rachel Phillips, a spokesperson for the cathedral. “Quite a lot of people haven’t been before but they all say ‘we’ll be back.’” Churches, museums and other institutions often try new approaches to gain attention and attract visitors. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an institution in your state that would benefit from more attention or visitors. Brainstorm a new or different way this institution could attract attention. Write a proposal to convince leaders of the institution to try your idea, and explain why it would attract attention.
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.
3. Ban on Bags
Plastic pollution is a problem in nations all around the world. One of them is taking a dramatic step to reduce the problem. The Asian nation of Pakistan has announced it will ban all single-use polyethylene bags the region surrounding the capital city of Islamabad. Anyone who uses, sells or manufactures them will face a fine. The fines will be significant, especially for a nation where the average annual income is just $1,200 per year. People will face a fine of $31 for using a single bag, $63 for selling one and up to $31,000 for manufacturing them. “This is something we have to do,” a senior official at Pakistan’s Ministry of Climate Change told the Washington Post newspaper. “The health of 200 million people is at stake.” Communities around the world are taking steps to reduce the use of plastics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different things communities are trying. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short documentary film highlighting ideas you think are the most innovative and promising. Write a summary of your opening scene, including images you would use.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
4. Stuck in Kenya
Sarah Momanyi has a great talent for the game of chess, but her opportunities are limited because she can’t leave her native country of Kenya. Her problem, like many who live in the African nation, is that she was born at home and doesn’t have a birth certificate. Without a birth certificate, the talented 13-year-old cannot get a passport to travel to the many top chess tournaments to which she has been invited in other countries, the Washington Post reports. Even though she has won two straight national championships in her age group. Getting her paperwork in order has been made more difficult because her mother is an alcoholic who is not active in her life, and cannot document her birth. Her grandmother, who is Sarah’s caregiver, is looking at other options, but has limited resources. Even her coach, who works for a Christian charity group, has been at a loss to resolve her situation. Still, he is hopeful she will one day get to show her talents to a wider audience. “Sarah has quite the brain,” coach Josphat Owila said. “Nobody can beat her.” People often face obstacles in achieving their goals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person facing an obstacle in achieving a goal. Write a letter to the editor offering suggestions on how this person could overcome the obstacle. Include ways other people could help, if appropriate.
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.
5. Give ’Em the Look
When people visit beaches on summer vacation, they often face pests and annoyances. One of the biggest is the activity of seagulls, who are notorious for stealing food from children and families. A new study in the European nation of England has found there’s an easy way to stop them. Just stare at them when they look like they’re checking out your food. Researchers from the University of Exeter found that gulls took 21 seconds longer to approach a bag of chips when a human was staring at them — if they approached at all. “Of those that did approach, most took longer when they were being watched,” the lead researcher said. “Some wouldn’t even touch the food at all.” The behavior of wild animals and birds can sometimes create problems for people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people dealing with problem behavior demonstrated by wildlife. Write a summary of the situation and what steps are being taken to deal with the problem behavior. Then discuss situations in which you or your family have had to deal with problem behavior from wildlife.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.