1. A Safe Concert
As communities seek to reopen after the coronavirus, one of the most difficult questions for scientists and local leaders has been how to safely hold large public gatherings. An experiment in the European nation of Spain may offer hope, and guidance, for the future. Researchers hosted a live indoor concert without social distancing — but WITH safety masks — and not one concertgoer tested positive for the virus later. The December concert was held before vaccines were widely available in Spain but at a time when the infection rate was low in the region around the concert site, the researchers wrote in the medical journal Lancet Infectious Diseases. All participants were required to take rapid virus tests ahead of the concert. “Our study provides early evidence that indoor music events can take place without raising the risk of [virus] transmission when comprehensive safety measures are in place,” the study’s lead author said. From sports events to public festivals, communities are allowing more and more large gatherings. They also are requiring safety precautions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about such events and the precautions being taken to keep people safe. Use what you read to write an editorial, offering guidelines on what communities should require for large public gatherings.
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. Goodbye, ‘Coach K’
Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski has been one of the most famous and successful college basketball coaches in history. But next season will be the last for the 74-year-old college legend. Known widely as “Coach K” because few could pronounce his Polish last name — it’s Sha-SHEF-skee — Krzyzewski will be looking to build on a career that already includes records for most coaching victories and most NCAA tournament appearances. In 46 seasons at Duke and Army, Coach K has led his teams to 1,170 victories, 35 NCAA tournament bids, 12 trips to the Final Four and five national championships. He produced eight national players of the year and 42 first-round selections in the NBA draft and also coached the U.S. national men’s team to three Olympic gold medals. Mike Krzyzewski has had great success over a long period of time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone else who has been successful for a long period of time. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor highlighting the skills and character traits this person had to be successful for so long. Discuss with friends and family what skills and traits you have that could make you successful.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.
3. ‘Giant Treasure Trove’
The state of California has many natural attractions, but fossils are not among them. That’s because much of California was under the Pacific Ocean when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and still underwater in later eras. A new discovery may change California’s fossil reputation, however. A ranger working for a water district has discovered a 10-million-year-old fossil field that contains a “giant treasure trove” of ancient species. The field, located in a watershed near the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, covers an area nearly 11 miles long and contains the remains of a “fantastic” number of ancient species. Among the fossil bones already unearthed are those of long-extinct species such as mastodons, giant camels, four-tusked miniature elephants, tortoises, birds and bone-crushing giant dogs. The field also contains a fossilized “petrified” forest. “This is fantastic,” said one expert on California fossils. “I’ve never seen anything like this in California.” Fossil discoveries teach scientists new things about ancient species and habitats. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a fossil discovery. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing how the discovery was made and what it teaches scientists about the ancient species and the habitat it lived in.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; 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. Vice Presidential First
Kamala Harris made history when she was elected last year as the first woman, first African American and first person of South Asian ancestry to become vice president. As a pioneer in her position, she will continue to make history throughout her term. Last month, for example, she broke a long-standing tradition at the United States Naval Academy, becoming the first woman to speak at commencement in the military institution’s 175-year history. In her remarks Harris called the graduating midshipmen “idealists in the truest sense,” and urged them to use their idealism to make the military and the nation stronger. Citing the threats of cyberattacks, the coronavirus epidemic and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Harris told the graduates “If we weren’t clear before, we know now: The world is interconnected. Our world is interdependent. And our world is fragile.” In her speech at the Naval Academy, Kamala Harris stressed how interconnected and interdependent nations of the world are. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories illustrating this. Use what you read to write a political column examining how nations are interconnected and what challenges and benefits that presents.
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. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
An Alabama teenager who had spent more than six years growing a 19-inch-thick Afro knew he would have to cut it when he got accepted to the U.S. Air Force Academy. So Kieran Moise decided to do it for a good cause. He cut his hair over Memorial Day weekend and donated it to kids battling cancer at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. On top of that, he set up a fund-raising page on the St. Jude’s website that has raised more than $19,000 in donations. His hair will be used to make wigs for kids who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer. “I’m going into the military and I didn’t want to just cut it off and drop it on the floor,” Moise told local TV station WAFF. “I wanted to give back because there are lots of people that need help.” (To see before and after photos of Kieran Moise’s hair, click here.) Teens and pre-teens often do unusual things to help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a teen or pre-teen who has done this. Pretend you are going to do a TV interview with this person. Write out five questions you would ask, and explain why.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.