1. Black Anthem for NFL
This summer, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, the National Football League has done a complete about-face regarding players protesting racial injustice. First the league issued a statement that “We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people” and “believe Black Lives Matter.” Now the league that banned quarterback Colin Kaepernick for protesting racial injustice will play “the Black National Anthem” before the “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the start of every game in Week 1 of the NFL season. The Black Anthem, officially titled “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” will be performed live or played at every stadium hosting NFL games during the week of September 10-13. Victims of systemic racism may also be recognized with helmet stickers or arm patches worn by players. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was originally written as a poem by civil rights pioneer James Weldon Johnson and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson. Sports leagues and other organizations are taking a variety of new steps to raise awareness of racial injustice. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about teams or other organizations doing this. Use what you read to write an editorial assessing which steps you think will be the most effective — and what steps could be taken by your community.
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. Grim Reaper
After loosening health and safety restrictions for the coronavirus epidemic, the state of Florida has become a hot spot for new cases. People crowding beaches and bars without face masks or social distancing have caused the number of cases to surge to a level that makes Florida one of the top three states in the nation for infection. Now, the Grim Reaper is trying to get Floridians to exercise more caution. Daniel Uhlfelder, a Florida lawyer, has been dressing up as the symbol of death and patrolling beaches in an effort to get people to take more precautions. With a long black robe and a jagged scythe, Uhlfelder stands out on beaches with young people frolicking in bikinis and colorful bathing suits. But he feels people need a wake-up call. “In March, I had a belief that this was going to get really bad,” he said in an interview. “Unfortunately, my predictions have exceeded what I thought.” People often dress up in costumes to call attention to issues, attractions or products sold in stores. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories or ads about people using costumes in this way. Pick one and use what you find to write paragraph telling why the costume is an effective way to draw attention. For added fun, brainstorm a way you or your friends could use a costume to call attention to something in your community. Draw a picture of your costume.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
3. Sunken City
In ancient myth, the Lost City of Atlantis fell out of favor with the gods and sank beneath the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. In modern times, the European nation of Italy has its own Atlantis story, though it doesn’t involve the wrath of the gods. It‘s a story of what happens when a power company builds a hydroelectric dam and creates a lake that submerges a town that dates back to the 12th century. The town was known as Fabbriche di Careggine, and it had 150 residents and 31 houses built around a sturdy stone church in the Tuscany region of central Italy. It was flooded by the artificial Lake Vagli in 1946, but next year visitors may get to see what the town looked like. According to CNN News, the daughter of the former mayor of the community recently posted on Facebook saying the lake would likely be drained in 2021 for just the fifth time. In addition, the Enel energy company told CNN it was beginning to discuss a lake draining with local municipalities. The draining would allow the energy company to clean and perform maintenance on the dam, and serve as an attraction for tourists by revealing the submerged town. Draining Lake Vagli in Italy will give people an opportunity to see how people lived in villages more than 800 years ago. In what other ways can scientists learn how people lived years ago? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about researchers doing something that reveals how people lived long ago. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling what the researchers did, what they learned and why that is important.
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.
4. ‘Hidden Figure’ Honor
Mary Jackson made history as the first black female engineer in the history of America’s NASA space agency. Her story was told in the 2016 movie “Hidden Figures,” and now she has gotten an additional honor. NASA has announced it will name its Washington, DC headquarters as the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters Building in honor of the woman who served NASA for 34 years and retired as an aeronautical engineer. Jackson retired from NASA in1985 and died in 2005. Fifteen years later, NASA wants to make sure her achievements are not forgotten. “Mary is one of many incredible and talented professionals in NASA’s history who contributed to this agency’s success,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said. One of the effects of the Black Lives Matter movement has been to call attention to the achievements of lesser known African Americans of the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one African American who is getting new attention. Use what you read to design a newspaper or Internet ad to honor this person. Write text for your ad and choose images you would use. Give your ad an eye-catching headline.
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
5. Slur-Free Scrabble
For more than 80 years Scrabble has been one of the most popular word games in the United States and around the world. But now the maker of Scrabble has announced that there are some words that can’t be played in tournaments or other settings. In response to Black Lives Matter efforts to eliminate “systemic racism” in society, the Hasbro company has announced that the company and the North American Scrabble Players Association have “agreed to remove all slurs from their word list for Scrabble tournament play.” Scrabble tournaments previously allowed slurs on the basis that, however offensive, they are part of the English language. Now, 226 offensive slurs will be off limits for players in tournaments and even recreational use. Hasbro said the company will amend Scrabble’s official rules “to make clear that slurs are not permissible in any form of the game.” The Black Lives Matter movement is bringing about change in many aspects of American life. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one of the changes you think is a good idea. Use what you read to write a short speech giving your view on this change, and other changes you think should be made. Deliver your speech to family or friends.
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.