Photojournalists have played a huge role showing the devastating effects the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had on family life. More than 4.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country and more than 90 percent of them are women and children. In fact, nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have now been forced from their homes since the fighting began, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund known as UNICEF. They have been forced to leave everything behind: schools, clothing, pets and even family members, since men have been asked or required to stay and defend their homeland. They “have been hurt in the very places where they should be safest … emergency shelters, even hospitals,” a UNICEF spokesman said. They have been attacked as they have tried to flee, as when Russian rockets hit a train station last week. And relief agencies fear more violence is yet to come. Written on the side of one Russian rocket that hit the train station were the words “For the Children.” In the newspaper or online, find photos taken by photojournalists that show the effects of the Ukraine war on families and children. Choose one or two and study them closely. Write a paragraph for each, detailing how the photo tells the story of the war’s effects on families/children in ways that words alone cannot.
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.
2. No-Fly Performance
Performance art is created by the actions or movements of artists to engage an audience. Performance art has often been used as a way to comment on social issues, and in New York City this spring it was used to call for action in the war in Ukraine. A group of artists climbed to the top of the rotunda of the world-famous Guggenheim art museum and launched a squadron of 350 paper airplanes to demonstrate support for establishing a no-fly-zone over Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been asking the United States and the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to establish the no-fly-zone over his European nation to stop jets from neighboring Russia from bombing Ukrainian cities and civilians from the skies. The U.S. and NATO nations have resisted Zelensky’s request for fear of expanding the war started by Russia’s invasion. The war in Ukraine is being waged on the ground, in the air and even on the sea. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about developments involving each of these types of warfare. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing why each development is important to the course of the war.
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. One Valuable Drawing
Michelangelo was one of the greatest artists in all of human history. Born in Italy in 1475, he did incredibly lifelike paintings, sculptures and drawings and even wrote poetry as well. His work is highly valued by art collectors and museums and commands extraordinary prices on the rare occasions it comes up for public sale. Just how extraordinary will be demonstrated again next month when a rare Michelangelo drawing will be offered at an auction sale in Paris, France. The drawing, called “A Nude Young Man (After Masaccio),” is believed to be one of the artist's early works, from around the end of the 15th century, and it is expected to fetch a whopping $33-million sale price at the auction by the Christie’s organization. The pen-and-ink drawing offers Michelangelo’s interpretation of a shivering man seen earlier in a fresco called “Baptism of the Neophytes,” by Masaccio, an early Italian master painter. The 13-by-8-inch drawing is one of the few works of Michelangelo that is owned privately. Michelangelo (pronounced MICK-el-AN-jell-o) was famous for creating lifelike paintings, sculptures and drawings. In the newspaper or online, find and study photos of lifelike works by artists of today. Use what you find to write an essay or short paper detailing the most important qualities that lifelike artworks have.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. ‘Sarah, Plain and Tall’
“Sarah, Plain and Tall” is a book that has touched the lives of millions of students since it first came out in 1985. It tells the story of a pioneer woman and the challenges her family faces in the American West in the 1800s. The young adult novel has been assigned reading in thousands of middle and elementary schools and touches on themes important to students, including loneliness, family issues, fear of abandonment and coping with change. The author of the book, Patricia MacLachlan, grew up in the western states of Wyoming and Minnesota and drew on her family’s history and experiences when writing the popular story. MacLachlan, who died last week at the age of 84, said she wrote the story as a gift to her mother, “who had met the real Sarah” and knew what frontier life was like. The first “Sarah” book inspired four additional volumes and a TV movie and won the prestigious Newbery Medal — the top honor for children’s literature. Author Patricia MacLachlan wrote books that dealt with issues and emotions felt by families and children. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an issue important to families today. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a creative story based on this issue. Write a summary of your story and give it a title that would attract students your age. Then write the opening paragraph or scene.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.
5. Nice Guy for a Change
Gordon Ramsay is a celebrity chef who has earned a wide reputation for food competition TV shows on which he teaches others to cook and critiques their efforts. He is known for being blunt and even mean-spirited in his assessments, ridiculing and making fun of bad efforts. In the European nation of England this month, Ramsay unexpectedly played the nice guy when a school chef reached out for help. Chef Tina Clark was in a bind at Edward Peake Middle School outside the city of London when two of her assistant chefs called in sick. So she called Ramsay, who was appearing on a radio show, to ask for help. She didn’t expect to get a response, so she was surprised when a message from Ramsay popped up on her phone. “Your chef will be with you in an hour,” Ramsay wrote. Ramsay sent a chef by taxi from his Lucky Cat restaurant, and Clarke immediately put him to work, NPR Radio reported. And what did he make? Not quite restaurant fare but a cauliflower cheese dish popular with students. Celebrities often do things to help others in their lives. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a celebrity helping a person or group of people. Use what you read to write a thank-you letter to the celebrity as if you were the person helped. Be sure to detail why the help was important.
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.