1. Scary Vacation
A vacation cruise to view the northern lights off the coast of Norway turned into a terrifying nightmare for passengers earlier this month. The cruise ship Viking Sky lost power and was tossed around by high winds and high seas for nearly a day. More than half the ship’s passengers had to be airlifted to rescue helicopters as the ship rolled back and forth in violent seas that flooded areas of the ship’s interior. Investigators are still examining what went wrong and why the ship’s captain chose to sail into violent winter conditions that featured waves more than 26 feet high. A key part of the investigation is why all four of the Viking Sky’s engines failed at once. Violent weather can often put people in danger. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about weather that endangered people. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining how weather endangered people, what people did to avoid danger and how successful they were.
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. New Dirty Sneakers
When people buy new sneakers, they often go to great lengths to keep them clean. The high-priced Gucci fashion company isn’t having any of that, however. Gucci has announced it now is selling an $870 pair of “distressed” sneakers designed to look like they are already dirty! The Screener sneakers have been “treated for an all-over distressed effect,” Gucci says on its website — but the dirt isn’t real. If you get real dirt on the sneakers, Gucci offers special instructions for removal that won’t harm the fake dirt. The Screeners were modeled after 1970s basketball shoes. Shoe and clothing companies often offer unusual items in an effort to attract customers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories or ads for such products. Use what you read to write a consumer column analyzing one unusual item, who it is supposed to appeal to, and whether you think it will be successful. 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; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Sky Spectacle
Skywatchers are always looking for unusual events. In Los Angeles, California on March 20, they got to see something even more unusual than it looked. They already were geared up to view the appearance of a “supermoon” on the first day of spring. And then a mysterious light streaked across the evening sky. At first people thought it was a meteor burning up in the atmosphere, but it didn’t quite move like a meteor. And it wasn’t. It was a stunt by a local skydiving group to celebrate the oversized “supermoon.” Skydivers from the Red Bull Air Force leaped from a helicopter 4,000 feet above Los Angeles and swooped into the downtown at more than 120 mph to celebrate the final supermoon of 2019. On top of that, they wore lighted “wingsuits” that gave off sparks as they flew. People and groups often do imaginative things to call attention to an event or cause. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one stunt. Use what you read to prepare a TV news commentary, telling what the group did, how people reacted to it, and how successful it was getting attention.
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.
4. Dogged Improvement
Service and therapy dogs are trained to help people with special needs succeed in their daily lives. At a junior high school in the state of Utah, one is now being credited with helping students succeed at reading. The dog is a “goldendoodle” named Bentley, and for four years he has been a “reading assistant” in the school library at South Ogden Junior High. Students who come to the library read aloud to him, and it’s paying off. School officials have tracked the students who read with Bentley and have found that in just a half year their reading scores go up half a grade level more than the students who don’t read with him. “That’s solid every single year,” one school teacher said. “It’s magic … Bentley magic.” From reading to performing useful tasks, animals help people in many ways. In teams or pairs, find and closely read stories about animals helping in different ways. Use what you read to brainstorm a short movie or video showing how animals help. Write an outline for your movie, including what images you would use. Then write a summary of your opening scene. Share with the class.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
5. Record-Setting Volunteer
It’s often said that it’s better to give than receive. That certainly is true for people who volunteer to help others. In the state of Arizona, a Red Cross volunteer has been giving … and giving … and giving longer than anyone in history. Betty Grenig, who is 97 years old, has been volunteering for the Red Cross organization for 80 years! She started when she was just 17, knitting socks for members of the U.S. Armed Services. Since then she has performed a variety of duties, and this month she was honored for her lifetime of service. The Red Cross says she is the oldest and longest-serving volunteer in the organization’s history, and a service award has been established in her name. Volunteers perform important services for individuals and organizations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read about volunteers doing important things to help in the community. Use what you read to write a short editorial, telling how the actions of one volunteer, or group of volunteers, is making a difference and inspiring others.
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.