1. She Made History!
It’s often said that America is constantly reinventing itself, and last week it did so in a truly historic way. When the U.S. Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to be a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, it gave the nation its first African American woman on the highest court in the land. The court has had two other Black justices in its 233-year history, but both were men — Thurgood Marshall, who served from 1967 to 1991 and Clarence Thomas, who has served from 1991 through today. A former public defender, Jackson will be the first justice since Marshall to have experience as a defense attorney. She also will give the High Court four women justices to go with five men, the closest thing to equal representation in the Court’s history. Jackson was born in Washington, DC and grew up in Miami, Florida. Her parents attended historically black colleges and universities, started their careers as public school teachers and rose to become leaders in the Miami-Dade Public School System. Jackson attended Harvard University for both undergraduate study and law school. She and husband Patrick Jackson, a surgeon, have two daughters — Leila, who is 17 and in high school, and Talia, a 21-year-old college student. The confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson as an associate justice of the Supreme Court has been celebrated by women of all races, but particularly by African American women. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about women who are celebrating her appointment to the High Court, or have been inspired by her historic achievement. Use what you read to write a political or personal column, analyzing why Ketanji Brown Jackson’s appointment is being celebrated as a historic achievement for the nation.
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.
2. Paying for College
Going to college is growing more and more expensive for students across America. And many families take out federal student loans to pay for it. When the coronavirus epidemic hit two years ago, many families were hard pressed to make payments due to loss of jobs or reduced hours. To ease the financial pressure, the federal government put repayments on hold in March 2020 until the economy improved. Now President Biden has given families additional time by extending the “grace period” for repayment until August 31, CNN News reported. The grace period had been scheduled to end May 1. This is the third time the Biden administration has extended the deadline for loan repayments. “The additional time will assist borrowers in achieving greater financial security and support the Department of Education’s efforts to continue improving student loan programs,” President Biden said. More than 50 percent of Americans who earn college bachelor’s degrees leave college with debt — and it averages $28,950! Paying for college is a challenge for many students and families. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about college costs and different ways students and families find to pay them. Use what you read to write a consumer column for the newspaper, offering tips on ways to handle the costs of college.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
3. Shoe Lovin’
High school students like to joke around with teachers they like. And the best teachers joke back. Few jokes go as viral as one involving a teacher in the state of Pennsylvania, however. Ninth graders who had been teasing history teacher Julian Perrin about his well-worn chukka boots, decided to do something about on April Fool’s Day April 1. They started a GoFundMe account under the title “Mr. Julian Needs New Shoes” in hopes of raising enough to buy him a pair of more-stylish Nike Blazer ‘77s. When a teacher at another Philadelphia school shared the fund-raising joke on Twitter, Perrin’s footwear became an Internet sensation. The students raised more than $3,000 in a matter of days. That is more than enough to buy new shoes, so the remainder will go to buying supplies for the students’ Tech Freire Charter High School in North Philadelphia. Or perhaps to buying shoes for kids who need them. Perrin, who is 28 and has taught at Freire for four years, says he found the prank “endearing” and a great reflection on his relationship with his students, the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper reported. “I hope people see how important it is to foster those relationships and give students a voice,” he said. “I hope my kids see how strong their voices are and how great they are.” Building close and comfortable relationships with others can help make people successful in all kinds of activities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people who achieved success by building a close or strong relationship. Use what you read to create a Top 10 list of ways to build a good relationship with others. Share with the class and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.
4. Some Party
When young people get married, one of the big questions is often where to hold the reception party after the ceremony. Naomi Biden and her fiancé Peter Neal had lots of choices, but they are going to get a venue few have enjoyed before. Biden, grand-daughter of President Biden, will have her reception at the White House in Washington, DC. The event will take place November 19 after a ceremony at a location that has not yet been announced. “The first family, the couple and their parents are still in the planning stages of all of the wedding festivities and look forward to announcing further details in the coming months,” the communications director for First Lady Jill Biden announced. Naomi Biden is a lawyer in Washington, DC and Neal is in his final semester of law school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Politics aside, Naomi Biden wrote on Twitter that she and her fiancé were “endlessly grateful to my Nana and Pop for the opportunity to celebrate our wedding at the White House.” People often choose landmarks or special places to have wedding receptions. In the newspaper or online, find and learn about such places in your community or state where people could celebrate a wedding. Choose one, and write the text for a wedding brochure, promoting it as a great place to have a reception. Do additional research on the Internet if necessary to learn more about the location. Pick photos from the Internet that could illustrate your brochure.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
5. Headline Poetry
April is National Poetry Month, a time when people celebrate all forms of poetry and the things that inspire them. Sometimes news events inspire poets, and when that happens people say their poems are “ripped from the headlines.” Scan the newspaper or a news website and copy down a headline that catches your attention. Then write a poem using that headline as the first or last line (or both). For further fun and challenge, copy down 10 headlines and assemble them into a poem of their own! Read poems aloud, in groups or as a class.
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.