1. More Trees!
Trees are hugely important to the environment, and also to people. They provide shade to city streets and back yards. They prevent soil from washing away or eroding. They provide habitats for wildlife. And they remove the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the air, reducing the effects of global warming. The island nation of the Philippines in Southeast Asia has lost many trees to illegal logging and climate causes. Now a proposed new law would address the problem in an unusual way. The law would require students to plant at least 10 trees each to graduate from high school or college. That would add 175 million new trees a year to the nation’s forests, parks and communities, according to the lawmaker who co-wrote the proposal. The measure has passed the nation’s House of Representatives but still must be approved by the Philippine Senate. People do many things to help the environment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about something individual people or communities are doing to benefit nature or wildlife. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling why the effort is important, and how it could inspire people in your community to help the environment in a similar way.
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.
2. Signs of Support
Many schools take special steps to help students who have special needs. But few go as far as an elementary school in the state of Maine. When school officials learned they would be getting their first deaf student at Dayton Consolidated School, they decided to teach ALL students how to communicate with their fingers using American Sign Language. Sign language is widely used by deaf people, and officials felt if everyone in the school learned some it would make 6-year-old kindergartener Morey Belanger feel more welcome. Students learned the signs for colors, letters and words related to school, and Morey helped them learn as well. “Morey helped all of them to learn the alphabet,” Principal Kimberly Sampietro told CNN News. Teaching sign language to students at Dayton Consolidated School was a special effort to help a student with special needs. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a school community doing something special to help a student. Pretend you are the student and write a thank you letter to the school community telling how the effort made you feel, or why it was important to you.
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.
3. An Old School of Fish
In today’s oceans, many species of fish swim together in groups called schools. But when did fish start doing that? A discovery of a fossil from 50 million years ago is giving scientists new hints on when schooling behavior may have developed. The fossil is part of the collection at a museum in the Asian nation of Japan. It has been dated to about 50 million years ago and shows what appears to be a school of fish preserved in gray limestone rock. There are 259 fish in the rock sample, and they are all facing the same direction. The discovery was made by Nobuaki Mizumoto, a biologist at Arizona State University, and he believes it shows behavior that is similar to modern fish. Other scientists are not so sure, and wonder how the fish were preserved in such a tight formation. The fossil originally came from the state of Wyoming in the United States, which used to be under water. Fossils give scientists information about how wildlife looked and lived in the past. What could future scientists learn if they discovered a fossil of a wildlife species from today? In the newspaper or online, find and closely study a photo of a species alive today. Use what you see to write a paragraph to tell what future scientists could learn from a fossil of this species. Share with the class.
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.
4. Hail to ‘McHives’
Honey bees play a huge role in the natural world. They pollinate the flowers of fruit and vegetable plants, making it possible for the fruits and vegetables to develop and grow. Without honey bees, many of the foods people enjoy at home or in restaurants would not exist. To call attention to the importance of bees, McDonald’s restaurants in the European nation of Sweden have started installing beehives on their roofs. But not just any beehive. The beehives are designed to look like a mini-McDonald’s restaurants. The rooftop beehives are called “McHives,” and are designed to attract and support honey bee colonies. Many of the same restaurants have replaced grass on their properties with flowering plants that attract bees. Without pollination from honey bees, fruits and vegetables would not be able to develop. In the newspaper or online, study food ads from grocery stores to see some of the fruits and vegetables that honey bees make possible. Pick several that you like or you think are important to family meals. Write a food column for the newspaper, telling what you would miss or miss out on if these fruits and vegetables did not exist. How would that make you feel?
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.
5. Great Wall, Great Crowds
The Great Wall of China is one of the most popular attractions in the Asian nation. But in one section it has just gotten harder to see it. Officials who oversee the popular Badaling section of the wall have announced that they will now limit visitors to 65,000 per day during peak or holiday seasons. As many as 100,000 people have visited the Badaling section outside the city of Beijing on peak days in the past, officials said. “The number of tourists … is enormous,” said a leader of the Badaling District Office. The 13,000-mile-long Great Wall is a huge tourist attraction in the Asian nation of China. What are top tourist attractions in your community or state? In the newspaper or online, find and closely study stories and photos of tourist attractions in your community or state. Use what you find to design an ad for the newspaper, encouraging people to visit one attraction. In your ad, list at least five reasons for visiting.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.