1. Dinosaur Doomsday
Most scientists now believe the Age of Dinosaurs ended when a giant meteor hit the Earth 66 million years ago and wiped out nearly all life on the planet. A discovery of a fossil site in the state of North Dakota is now giving scientists a detailed picture of what that deadly day was like. According to a newly released report, the site shows how the meteor collision threw together fish and land animals, ocean water and rocks, trees and flowers and other materials in a jumble of destruction unlike any other. The fossils include fish like sturgeon and paddlefish, marine mollusks, leaves and tree fronds, dinosaur eggs, the remains of hatchlings, broken teeth and bones, and the burned trunks of trees. Most significantly, the site was rich in the metal iridium, which is rare on Earth but abundant in meteors. The North Dakota fossil site is shedding new light on an important period in the Earth’s history. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another fossil discovery that is helping scientists understand the past. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper, outlining what has been found in the new fossil discovery 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.
2. Comedian for President?
People sometime think politics is a joke, but in the European nation of the Ukraine, it’s no laughing matter. Even though the leading candidate for president is a TV comedian who has never run for office. In the first round of voting in the eastern European nation, comedian Volodymyr Zelensky tallied nearly twice as many votes as the second-place candidate, the current president, Petro Poroshenko. According to voting results, Zelensky had the support of about 30 percent of voters, while Poroshenko had 16 percent. Because neither candidate had more than 50 percent, they will face off in a runoff election on April 21. Ironically, Zelensky earned fame and popularity on television by playing a schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes President of the Ukraine in a show called “Servant of the People.” Candidates for political office now come from all kinds of backgrounds. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a candidate in the United States or another nation with an unusual background. Use what you read to write a political column, giving your opinion on why the candidate’s background could (A.) be a benefit and (B.) be a liability. Support your opinions with facts from your reading and share 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.
3. Measles Surge
In the year 2000, U.S. health officials declared that the contagious and sometimes deadly disease of measles had been “eliminated” across the nation by wide use of vaccine shots that prevent it. Since then, a growing number of parents have chosen to not have their children vaccinated out of fears that vaccines cause the developmental condition of autism and other health problems. As a result, the nation has experienced an upsurge in measles cases this year. Health officials say more children have come down with measles in the first three months of 2019 than contracted the disease all of last year. What’s more, in just those three months, the nation has recorded the second-highest number of cases in almost 20 years. The overall number is small — less than 400 cases, according to the latest statistics — but 15 states have been affected. Health officials fear that even a few unvaccinated children can put large numbers of others at risk in schools or other public places. The outbreak of measles is a public health issue worrying officials in many states. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how officials are responding. Use what you read to write a short editorial analyzing which approaches you think are the most appropriate for the situation.
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.
4. Chicago Makes History
The city of Chicago, Illinois, has had a lot of famous mayors, but none has earned a place in history the way Lori Lightfoot has. Lightfoot, who won a runoff election last week in the Midwestern city, is the first African American woman to be elected mayor there. A former federal prosecutor, she easily defeated Toni Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, in the runoff. It was the first time two African American women had faced off in a race for mayor in the city. Lightfoot, 56, originally was considered an underdog among 14 candidates seeking to succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who chose not to seek re-election. In addition to becoming first black woman elected mayor, Lightfoot is also the first openly gay person to win the office. Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States and has many challenges and problems to address. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about problems facing Chicago, and proposals that Lightfoot has made to address them. Use what you read to write an “action plan” advising the new mayor on which problems to address first, and how.
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; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
5. Call for Apology
When European explorers first arrived in North and South America, the nation of Spain played a major role. Seeking to establish an empire in the “New World,” Spanish conquistadors battled native people like the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas in Mexico, Central and South America, killed thousands and carried off gold and other treasures. Five hundred years later, the president of Mexico has called for an apology from Spain for injustices committed during the Spanish conquest of the region. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Spain needed to acknowledge the “mass killings” and “violations” committed against native peoples who originally occupied the land. Lopez Obrador said he was not looking for a “confrontation,” but “we need the apology in order to begin a new era of reconciliation and brotherhood.” Due to changing attitudes, people all over the world are re-examining the actions and attitudes of nations and leaders in the past. The process has sometimes caused controversy, as people disagree about what, if anything, should be done. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a community or nation re-examining its past in light of new attitudes. Use what you read to write a short letter to the editor detailing why the past is being re-examined and what, if anything, the modern community should do to address outdated attitudes.
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.