1. Storytelling Women
March is Women’s History Month, and this year creative women are getting special attention. The theme for the month is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” and that is giving schools, students and families an opportunity to take a fresh look at the many women who have written memorable books for teens and pre-teens. Among the women getting attention in this celebration are Suzanne Collins, who wrote the “Hunger Games” series; J.K. Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter books; Elizabeth Acevedo, who wrote the popular “Clap When You Land”; Lois Lowry, who wrote “The Giver”; Harper Lee, who wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Jacqueline Woodson, author of “Brown Girl Dreaming.” As a class, discuss books by women authors that you have read and liked. Then find and closely read stories about women authors writing for students your age today. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay examining how a female authors often can bring a different point of view to telling a story. Share ideas and discuss.
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; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
2. What an iPhone!
Many people love their Apple iPhones, but it’s likely nobody likes one more than a woman from the state of New Jersey. Friends gave Karen Green the very first iPhone as a gift when she got a new job in 2007, but she never used it because she had just bought another new phone and liked it. She never got rid of the iPhone, either, but stored it away still sealed in the original box. She thought it would “never go out of date” because it was an iPhone and would always have value, NPR Radio reported. She was only half right in her thinking, because she never could have predicted how many updates to iPhones there would be. But boy did it keep its value. Because she never opened the original, shrink-wrapped package, Green was able to sell her eight-gigabyte phone for $63,356.40 at a collectors auction! The sale price was more than 100 times the original cost of the phone — and more than anything ever paid for a vintage iPhone. The original iPhone cost $599 and offered a 3.5-inch screen with a 2-megapixel camera, plus 4 GB or 8 GB storage options, Internet capabilities and iTunes. The iPhone became Apple's most successful product and has been credited with changing the way people communicate, work and live. Apple iPhones — and especially iPhone cameras — have had a huge impact on people. They record important events in people’s lives and even capture news events ranging from disasters to police activity in real time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a situation captured by someone using an iPhone for photos or video. Use what you read to write a political or personal column discussing how iPhones provide important information about events or people. Share and discuss as a class.
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. Salad Shortage
Doctors and health experts are always urging people to eat lots of vegetables, because they are high in vitamins and minerals but low in salt and sugar. Among the dishes recommended most often are salads, which contain green leafy vegetables like lettuce or spinach, plus tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and peppers. In the European nation of England, people are having a hard time making salads these days because of a shortage of vegetables. Bad weather in southern Europe and North Africa has caused many vegetable crops to fail, making them hard to get for English supermarkets, the Washington Post newspaper reports. Some markets have set limits on the purchase of vegetables such as lettuce, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, while others have none to offer at all. Even an attempt by government leaders to get people to use turnips as a replacement in salads led to a problem — a shortage of turnips! Salads are a healthy and versatile food because they can use many different fresh vegetables — and even leftover cooked foods. In the newspaper or online, find and study food ads for vegetables available in supermarkets. Pretend you are a restaurant owner and create an unusual salad to serve. List the ingredients you would use, what kind of dressing you would add, and any of your favorite foods you would include. Give your salad an original name and write a paragraph describing why it would be delicious. Share with the class and take a vote on who had the most creative salad.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
4. Penguin Huts
African penguins are an endangered species that nest on the southern coast of the continent of Africa. Like their cousins in Antarctica, they are great swimmers capable of catching and eating more than a pound of fish a day. Unlike Antarctic penguins, however, African penguins don’t nest in areas where the temperatures are cold and much of the ground is covered with snow. And that is a problem. When African penguins go ashore, the black feathers on their back attract heat from sunlight and endanger the both the birds and their eggs. A new program in the nation of South Africa is trying to help African penguins escape the heat. The African Penguin Nest Project is placing tiny white beach huts on the beaches and islands of nesting grounds to give the penguins shelter from the sun, CNN News reports. The two-layer huts, which are made of fabric covered with ceramic material, reflect sunlight and keep the penguins cool with ventilation holes in their sides. The Nest Project started installing the nests in 2018 and “within a matter of minutes, penguins were running into them,” a project coordinator said. So far, about 1,500 huts have been placed on islands and beaches in South Africa, and they are about 99 percent occupied, officials say. A total of 6,000 are needed, at a cost of about $450,000. The success rate for hatching chicks has been higher than in unprotected natural areas. African penguins grow up to 27 inches tall and can weigh 11 pounds. The African Penguin Nest Project is an example of people helping wild animals succeed in their habitat. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another effort to help wild animals. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor describing this effort, why it is important and how it could inspire others to help wild animals.
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. She’s So Lucky!
In folklore, people have believed for hundreds of years that four-leaf clovers bring good luck to those who find them. If that is the case, a woman in the U.S. state of Wisconsin may be the luckiest person in the world. Gabriella Gerhardt has achieved a new world record for collecting 118,791 four-leaf clover leaves from the plants that grow in fields, lawns and parks. Her collection was counted and verified by 21 judges on February 25 to earn an official Guinness World Record, UPI News reported. Gerhardt easily topped the previous world record for four-leaf clovers, which had stood at 111,060. She amassed her record-setting collection over 12 years after starting the hobby in 2010. She never gets tired of finding the lucky charms. “I’ve found over 100,000, and every time I find one, I still get that little magic feeling,” she says. Four-leaf clovers were first believed to be lucky by Druid priests in the European nation of Ireland nearly 2,500 years ago. People often make news by collecting unusual things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about such collectors. Then think about an unusual or interesting thing you would like to collect. Write a letter to a friend telling why you would like to collect this type of item and how you would do it.
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.