1. Ice Cream Pollution?
All over the world, cities are looking for ways to reduce air pollution. In the European city of London, England, that may affect a long-time summer tradition. District councils within the city are threatening to crack down on ice cream trucks because their diesel engines cause too much pollution in the air. Many ice cream trucks have to run their engines to operate their ice cream machines, but council leaders want them to be more “environmentally friendly,” the New York Times newspaper reports. One solution would be to install ice cream machines in trucks that would run on electric power rather than diesel. Another would be to convert to all-electric vehicles. To encourage this, councils in several areas have set up electric charging stations in parks and other public places so that ice cream trucks could run their machines on electricity. Air pollution, water pollution and trash pollution are problems all communities face. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a community doing something to reduce pollution. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, telling what you think of the effort and how well you think it will work.
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.
2. Toads on the Move
In many areas of the country spring is a time of great movement for frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians. They migrate to pools and ponds to lay their eggs and then return to the habitats where they live the rest of the year. When the eggs hatch and develop, the young amphibians move to join their parents outside the breeding areas. This migration has been going on for thousands of years, and in the state of New Hampshire officials have taken steps to protect it. The city of Keene blocks off roads where amphibians migrate to protect them from cars and traffic. Alerted by the Internet and social media, volunteers come out to assist frogs, toads and amphibians across the road, or just to see the yearly migration. “This is the only time of the year when they … move, which is what makes it feel really kind of magical,” said the leader of a local conservation group. Each spring, frogs, toads and salamanders migrate to lay their eggs. What other things do wildlife do at certain times of the year? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about something a wildlife species does in the spring or at another time of the year. Use what you read to create a drawing, poster or art collage showing what this species does and write a paragraph telling why it is important.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.
3. Fast as a Bullet
Bullet trains get their name because they are shaped like a bullet and travel extremely fast. The Asian nation of Japan is a world leader developing these high-speed trains, and now it is making them even faster. Japan has started testing its fastest bullet train ever, with a goal of putting it into full time operation by the year 2030. The ALFA-X train has the ability to travel 249 miles per hour. To reduce risks, testing of the ALFA-X will only take place after midnight when tracks are not busy. The ALFA-X bullet train is a new kind of transportation vehicle. In the newspaper or online, find stories, photos and ads showing other new kinds of transportation vehicles. Pick one and create a short oral report telling why it is an improvement over earlier vehicles.
Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
4. Snow Grads
The calendar may say it’s spring, but Mother Nature has other ideas. In the state of Colorado, a college graduation ceremony had to be cut short earlier this month when a winter storm hit on the day graduates were getting their diplomas. One to three inches of heavy wet snow coated the area around the University of Colorado at Boulder, and temperatures didn’t get out of the 30s. Students at the outdoor ceremony at the school’s football stadium didn’t seem to mind the conditions. After getting their diplomas, they happily threw snowballs into the air. In other parts of the country, winter also was hanging on. Last week, the New England states in the nation’s Northeast faced significant snowfalls, too. Unusual or severe weather often makes news in the spring months. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an unusual or severe weather event. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining ways that families or communities could prepare for such an event in the future.
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.
5. Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson was one of the most important players in the history of Major League Baseball. In 1947 he became the first African American in the modern era to take the field for a Major League team, starting at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Every year Robinson is honored by the Major Leagues on Jackie Robinson Day, and fans still are inspired by his courage and achievements. This month one fan paid more than half a million dollars for a piece of Robinson’s famous history. In an online auction sale, the fan paid $553,500 for a uniform Robinson wore in a home game for the Dodgers in 1951. The Dodgers tied for the best record in the National League that year, but lost in a playoff to the New York Giants for a chance to go to the World Series. Robinson hit .338 that season with 19 home runs and 106 runs scored. He later was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. More than 70 years after he entered the Major Leagues, Jackie Robinson continues to inspire people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person today who inspires people. Pretend you are going to interview this person. Write out five questions you would like to ask him or her, and explain why. Share and discuss as a class.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.