1. More Mueller Controversy
After nearly two years of investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller has delivered a report declaring that the 2016 campaign of President Trump did not conspire with Russian agents to undermine the 2016 election. At the same time, the report declined to declare whether the President or his team sought to block the investigation, or “obstruct justice.” “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the report declared, according to Attorney General William Barr. That will ensure that Democrats and Republicans will continue to spar over release of the entire report and the evidence supporting or disputing claims of obstruction during the investigation. The Mueller investigation continues to make news and cause debate across the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about reactions to the report. Use what you read to write a political column, offering your views on the most important aspects of the debate, now and in the future. Share and discuss with the class.
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; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
2. Unhappy Times
Americans are unhappy, and they are getting more unhappy by the year. At least if you believe the data in the World Happiness Report supported by the United Nations. In the 2019 report released on the International Day of Happiness (March 20), the United States ranks 19th in happiness among 156 ranked countries. That’s one spot lower than last year and five spots lower than the U.S. was ranked in 2017. The Happiness Report is based on six key variables that support well-being: income, freedom, trust, healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity. In 2019, six of the seven happiest nations are European, led by the Scandinavian countries of Finland, Denmark and Norway. At the other end of the rating, six of the nine unhappiest nations are from the continent of Africa, led by the war-torn nation of South Sudan. The Happiness Report ranks nations based on six categories that contribute to well-being. In the newspaper or online, read more about the report and issues that affect happiness. As a class, discuss these issues, and others that you think are important to happiness and well-being. Which do you think are the most important?
Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Robotic Breakfasts
All around the world, robots are doing more things to help people. At George Mason University in the state of Virginia, they appear to be helping college students eat healthier diets. In a partnership with a technology company, the university launched a fleet of delivery robots in January to bring food to students in their dorms. In just over two months the robots run by Starship Technologies have delivered more than 1,500 extra breakfast orders. That’s good news for nutrition experts, since college students often skip breakfast when they are rushing off to class. “Breakfast is an easy meal to miss,” a Starship Technologies spokesperson told the Washington Post newspaper. “… “Our robots allow the breakfast to come to you, at a time you want.” George Mason is the first university in the nation to include robots in its meal plan options. Delivery robots are getting more and more attention across the nation and the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about advances and new approaches for using these robots. Use what you read to write a consumer column for the newspaper, analyzing the benefits of delivery robots, and any liabilities they pose for businesses or individuals.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
4. Prom King Kindness
Acts of kindness can inspire others, and especially if someone gives up something to be kind to someone else. That’s what happened this month at Liberty High School in the state of Nevada. Eighteen-year-old Shaun Mabanta was one of four seniors chosen to be on the prom court for the big spring dance, but he withdrew so that his friend Edgar Hernandez could have a chance to be elected prom king. Hernandez has autism and has to work hard to form relationships. But “he puts himself out there so much” Mabanta “wanted him to win from the beginning.” Mabanta had met and become friends with Hernandez through the school’s student council, and Mabanta became impressed with how hard his friend worked to succeed. “Edgar has been practicing and practicing,” Mabanta told the Washington Post newspaper. “It makes me think there’s nothing impossible in this life.” With the prom committee’s blessing, Mabanta campaigned for Hernandez, and when the votes were tallied Edgar Hernandez was the winner.
Hernandez deeply appreciated what Mabanta had done. “He’s a good friend,” Hernandez said. “I felt special.” Shaun Mabanta gave up a chance to be prom king to help his friend Edgar Hernandez. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone else giving something up to help others. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, offering recognition for the person who gave something up to help, and how that could inspire others to be more selfless.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. A Long, Full Life
Former President Jimmy Carter has achieved many things in a long and fulfilling career. He was President of the United States from 1977 to 1981, served as governor of the state of Georgia, and since leaving public life has been an active volunteer and diplomat. On March 22 Carter reached another achievement, when he became the nation’s oldest living former president. On that day he reached an age of 94 years and 172 days, to top the record held by former President George H.W. Bush, who died last November. In his career, Carter has earned many awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 and three separate Grammy Awards in the Spoken Word category. Jimmy Carter has achieved success and fulfillment over many years by helping others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person who has achieved success and/or fulfillment over many years. Use what you read to write a public proclamation thanking this person for his/her many achievements and contributions to the community. Look up proclamations online to see how they are written. Read your proclamation aloud, with expression!
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; identifying multiple language conventions and using them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.