1. Good News at Last
The coronavirus continues to spread, but last week Americans got some good news. Two drug companies — Pfizer and Moderna — have developed and tested vaccine drugs and have applied to health and government officials for approval to distribute them. On top of that, an advisory panel for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that health care workers and the residents and workers at long-term nursing homes should get the vaccines first because they are at “exceptionally high risk” for getting the virus. Next in line should be “essential workers” who cannot work at home, including teachers, emergency responders, police officers, grocery workers, corrections officers, public transit workers and others. Deciding who should get vaccines first is an extremely important question for the country, since there will not be enough doses available this month to cover all the people who need it most. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about distribution of the vaccines and how soon Americans can expect them to be available. Use what you read to write an analysis of the challenges still to be met for wide distribution. Discuss with family, friends and classmates.
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. Holiday Ads
Next to the Super Bowl, the December holiday season is the biggest and most creative time for TV advertising. Companies and stores roll out their most elaborate and clever ads in an effort to encourage shoppers to buy their products. With family, friends or classmates, discuss TV holiday ads you have seen this year that stick in your mind. Discuss what makes them eye-catching or memorable. Then pick a memorable TV ad you have seen, or watch TV to find one. Think like an advertising expert and write a paragraph analyzing what makes it clever, effective or memorable.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. That Special Teacher
Teachers often have great impact on students. But it’s not often a teacher gets a thank you 40 years later. Unless you are Pat Harkleroad, a retired first grade teacher from Louisville, Kentucky. Forty years ago, Harkleroad had a first grader named Ana Reyes who arrived in her class as an immigrant and could not speak or read a word of English. Harkleroad took it upon herself to come in early every day to teach English to young Ana so that she wouldn’t fall behind. Reyes, who was born in the South American nation of Uruguay, went on to become a top student and a lawyer who graduated from world famous Harvard Law School. This fall, while watching a friend’s first grade daughter read, she realized her career would not have been possible without her first grade teacher, the Washington Post newspaper reported. She wanted to thank her but couldn’t remember her name. With the help of friends, Facebook and the Kentucky Department of Education, she found that Harkleroad was her teacher and that she still lived in Louisville. They arranged to meet, and it was emotional on both sides. “I often wonder whether [my] career would have been possible if I had not had someone spend her extra time to help me,” said Reyes, who is now 46. “These are moments that should be celebrated and shared,” said Harkleroad, 77. “… You have no idea how good this made me feel.” Teachers often “go the extra mile” to help their students succeed. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a teacher who has done this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor publicly thanking this teacher and detailing how his/her actions could inspire other teachers or the 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.
4. Lego Colosseum
For more than 70 years, Lego brick sets have been hugely popular with kids and adults all over the world. More than 600-BILLION pieces have been sold in different combinations, and this year Lego rolled out its largest set ever. It’s a model of the Colosseum amphitheater from ancient Rome, and it has more than 9,000 pieces! When completed, the model stands 10.5 inches high, 20.5 inches wide and 23.5 inches deep. At a cost of $549.99, the model has incredible detail, showing the Colosseum’s famous arches and columns, plus an interior that reveals the “vast mysterious structure that runs underneath the entire arena,” Lego said when announcing the set. The actual Colosseum is an amphitheater in the center of Rome, Italy that opened in the year 80 C.E. It was the site of chariot races, gladiator fights and other entertainments. Lego chose to make a model of the Colosseum because it was an important and popular building in ancient Rome. With family, friends or classmates, discuss some important buildings in your community or state. Or find examples in the newspaper or online. Pick one and use what you read to write an art column, telling why the building is important and how its shape or style makes it significant or memorable in the community.
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.
5. Tracking the White Giraffe
In an effort to protect it from poachers and other hazards, the world’s only known white giraffe has been fitted with a tracking device in the African nation of Kenya. Wildlife officials are especially concerned about the fate of this rare male, after a white female and her calf were killed by poachers in March. The GPS tracking device was attached to one of the white male’s horns and will provide hourly updates of his location in the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Wildlife Conservancy. The male giraffe has a rare genetic trait called leucism, which results in the partial loss of pigmentation, CNN News reported. Giraffes are the world’s tallest land animal but have lost 40 percent of their population in the last 30 years, according to the African Wildlife Foundation. The continent of Africa is home to some of the rarest and most exotic animals in the world. It also faces challenges protecting those animals from poachers, disease or loss of habitat. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about efforts to protect endangered or threatened species in Africa. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining why such efforts are important and ways people in the United States could raise awareness or money to support them.
Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.