, week of
Feb. 15, 2021
1. Impeachment Vote
The U.S. Senate ended the impeachment trial of former President Trump last weekend when it voted to acquit Trump of “incitement of insurrection” with his words and actions before the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building by his supporters. The former president had been impeached by the U.S. House just prior to leaving office, and charged with committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” with his actions. It was the first time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached two times during his time in office, and the first time the Senate has been asked to take up impeachment charges after a president has left the White House. Democratic House prosecutors used dramatic video evidence of the attack to make the case that Trump had incited the riot that left five people dead by urging supporters to “fight like hell” for their “freedom.” Trump’s defense team argued the President’s incendiary remarks were protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech. Trump was expected to be acquitted of the impeachment charges, because most Republican senators indicated in advance, they would support the former president. The impeachment of former President Trump has deepened political divisions across the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read commentaries about the effect of these divisions. Use what you read to write a commentary of your own on whether it was worthwhile to bring impeachment charges against Trump since he was leaving office before the Senate trial.
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.
2. Deadly Pollution
Air pollution is a deadly problem around the world. It not only raises the temperature of the atmosphere — it makes millions of people sick. Especially bad is pollution caused by burning fossil fuels like gasoline, oil and coal, health experts say. These fuels produce greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere but also release tiny poisonous particles that can cause people to get sick and even die. A new scientific study has found that more than 8-million people around the world die each year from this kind of particle pollution — 18 percent of all global deaths. The total is more than twice as many deaths from fossil fuel pollution as previously estimated, the researchers told CNN News. According to the study, as many as 30.7% of deaths in Eastern Asia, 16.8% in Europe and 13.1% in the United States can now be attributed to fossil fuel pollution. The United States and other nations are taking steps to control air pollution and slow down global warming. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about steps being taken by President Biden and other world leaders. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining the most important steps you think need to be taken. Discuss with family, friends and classmates.
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.
3. Finding ‘Frank’
The Internet and social media can do some amazing things connecting people. The latest example involves a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan who attended this year’s Super Bowl. At the game L.J. Govoni found himself sitting next to a cardboard cutout of a Kansas City Chiefs fan who had paid to have his image displayed at the stadium as part of a charity fund-raiser. Govoni struck up a “friendship” with the cutout, whom he nicknamed “Frank,” talking trash about the game and at one point even buying a beer for his cardboard “friend.” Then he started wondering who his friend really was, and started tweeting on social media to see if anybody knew him. It didn’t take long for the Internet to find the answer. “Frank” is actually a Chiefs fan named Clayton Whipple and he lives in Iowa. The story doesn’t end there, though. Govoni, who owns a beer brewery in Florida, offered to fly Whipple and his family to Florida and put them up at a beach hotel so they could meet in person. He said he wanted Whipple to know “his cardboard image had an unforgettable evening in Tampa,” TV station WDAF reported. Whipple and his family quickly accepted the offer to get away from freezing Iowa. “We’re running out of places to put the snow,” he said. The story about L.J Govoni and Clayton Whipple is an example of news that makes people feel good and smile. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read another “feel-good” story. Write a letter to a friend telling why the story made you feel good, and how it could do the same for others.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
4. Milestone for Women
In the Catholic Church, the Synod of Bishops advices the Pope on issues he must decide on as leader of the world’s Catholics. This month, Pope Francis made history when he appointed a woman as an under-secretary to the Synod (pronounced SIN-od) — and gave her voting rights along with the bishops. The ground-breaking woman is Sister Nathalie Becquart from the European nation of France, and with her appointment “a door has been opened” for a greater role for women in the church. A spokesman said Becquart’s appointment signals a desire by the Pope “for a greater participation of women in the … decision-making in the church.” Even so, while Sister Becquart’s appointment breaks new ground, the bishops and cardinals who lead the Synod are still all men. Around the world women are breaking new ground and gaining influence in many different types of organizations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about two such instances. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper comparing the women’s achievements, the obstacles they faced to success and what skills or character traits helped them overcome the challenges.
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.
5. Tiny, Tiny Chameleon
Chameleons are reptiles most widely known for their ability to change color and camouflage themselves in their surroundings. A newly discovered chameleon (kuh-MEE-lee-on) in the island nation of Madagascar has another claim to fame. It may be the smallest reptile in the world — and it does NOT change colors. The male nano-chameleon can sit comfortably on the tip of a human finger with a length just over ¾ of an inch from its nose to the tip of its tail and a body just half an inch long. The female of the species is slightly larger. Researchers said the tiny chameleon was found in a rain forest area that had been subject to deforestation in the nation located off the east coast of Africa. They noted that it hunts for mites on the rain forest floor and is so small it hides from predators in blades of grass, the BBC news service reported. With a body the size of a sunflower seed, it is the smallest of about 11,500 known species of reptiles. One of the researchers involved in the discovery, called it “a spectacular case of extreme miniaturization.” Around the world, scientists continue to discover new species of wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story of a new discovery. Use what you read to prepare an oral report on the discovery, how it was made and why it is important. Present your report to family, friends or classmates.
Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
Lessons & Classroom Activities
Resources by grade level