1. History in the Air
More than 100 years ago, American Bessie Coleman was a pioneer among airplane pilots. In 1921 she became the first Black woman in the world to earn a pilot’s license, even though she had to go to the European nation of France because there were no flying opportunities for Black women in America. She was famous for saying “I refuse to take no for an answer” when it came to flying. Last month, an American Airlines flight from Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas to Phoenix, Arizona honored Coleman in an unusual and first-of-its-kind way. Every member of the flight’s 36-member crew — from the pilot to flight attendants to the cargo team — was a Black woman who had pursued an aviation career in part because of Coleman’s achievements. “We’ve come a long way since Bessie Coleman,” said Gigi Coleman, 64, Bessie Coleman’s great-niece, who took part in the flight as a passenger. “I think my great-aunt would have been so proud of these beautiful, talented, courageous women of color. They were soaring through the blue skies, just like she did, and telling the world that we can accomplish anything in life by working together.” Bessie Coleman inspired others with her achievements as an African American woman. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another woman who is inspiring others. Use what you read to write a short editorial giving your opinion on why this woman is inspiring. Talk about your editorial with friends or family members.
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.
2. Young and Old Together
As world leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has made special efforts to reach out to young people and children. At the Pope’s weekly audience with visitors on August 17, a very young person reached out to the Pope — and couldn’t have done it at a more timely moment. As the 85-year-old Pope spoke about the need for an “alliance between the elderly and children,” a 5-year-old year old boy came out of the audience to join the Pope onstage. The child brought a big smile to the church’s Holy Father. “How are you?” the Pope asked in Italian, patting the boy’s head. “What is your name? Do you like being here? Make yourself comfortable.” The little boy did just that, watching attentively as Pope Francis finished his message. The message was perfect for the moment. “The alliance between the elderly and children will save the human family,” Pope Francis said. “Where the children, the young, learn from the elderly there is a future. If there is not this dialogue between the old and young, the future is not clear.” Children and young people learn from elderly adults in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an older or elderly person. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend or family member telling what someone your age could learn from this older person. Share it with an older adult you know.
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. Dinos on the Run
Tyrannosaurus Rex was one of the fastest ancient dinosaurs, achieving speeds of up to 20 miles per hour running on its powerful hind legs. In the modern world, T-rex isn’t quite so fast, judging from a special “dinosaur race” held at a horse racing track in the state of Washington. About 150 runners took part in the race at Emerald Downs, in which every contestant had to dress in an inflatable T-rex dinosaur suit. The costumes made the running slow and awkward, with the competitors covering a 1/16-mile course in 17 seconds or more — sometimes much more. That calculates to a little more than half the speed of real T-rexes, but speed wasn’t the goal. Giving people a reason to laugh was the real purpose, and in that the dinosaur race was a great success (click here). Groups, individuals and communities often schedule events that make people laugh and have fun. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story or photo of such an event. Use what you read write a rhyming, humorous poem describing the event. Read the poem aloud, with good humor. Use the Internet to look up limericks or rhyming couplets to see how humorous poems are written, if you like.
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; reading prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression on successive readings.
4. Record Pumpkin Journey
This is the season for giant pumpkins — a time when farmers try to set new records for growing the popular orange gourds. In the state of Nebraska, one farmer set a new record with a pumpkin he grew, but not for size or weight. Vegetable grower Duane Hansen set a record for making the longest journey floating down a river in a hollowed-out pumpkin! Hansen’s pumpkin had plenty of size — it weighed a whopping 846 pounds before he hollowed it out. And it had to be large enough for him to fit inside it, once he had removed the seeds and gunk inside the shell. After he had done that, it was into the Missouri River for a 38-mile journey from the city of Bellevue to the community of Nebraska City. Hansen’s 11-hour paddle easily topped the previous record of 25 miles for a water journey in a pumpkin, the Washington Post newspaper reported. And Hansen did it on his 60th birthday! The Guinness World Records organization still has to verify his record journey, but Hansen has plenty of witnesses, plus videos of the achievement. “Congratulations Duane for smashing the world record,” Bellevue city officials wrote in a Facebook post. “We are proud that you started this record-breaking 38-mile journey in Bellevue.” The largest pumpkin in the world was grown last year in the European nation of Italy and weighed 2,703 pounds. People often make news by doing unusual things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person doing something unusual. Use what you read to draw a picture or comic strip showing the person’s unusual activity. Give your picture a creative title and explain to your class how your drawing tells the story of the activity.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. High-Flying Eagle
The bald eagle is America’s national bird and an impressive bird it is. With a bright white head, yellow beak and powerful claws, it is both beautiful and powerful and an inspiring sight when seen in the wild. So imagine the reaction of airline passengers in Charlotte, North Carolina, when they encountered a live bald eagle — without a cage — going through airport security recently. The eagle even craned its neck to get a better look at passengers and flapped its wings to show off a wingspan of nearly 7 feet. The eagle, whose name is Clark, was on a trip from the World Bird Sanctuary in the state of Missouri to High Point University in North Carolina for an appearance in which he flew over the heads of new students. He is trained to make such special appearances as a “flying ambassador” for the sanctuary. Clark, who is 30 inches tall, got special treatment throughout his trip: He flew in a special crate that took up two seats in the cabin of his Southwest Airlines flight and stayed in a hotel room before his appearance. Birds and animals are often used as symbols or mascots for nations, sports teams or other organizations. In the newspaper or online, find an example of a bird or animal being used this way. Use what you find to write an opinion piece telling what qualities the bird or animal has that symbolizes the nation, team or organization.
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.