1. Trailblazing Judge
For more than 50 years, Michigan federal judge Damon J. Keith was one of the nation’s most respected jurists on issues involving civil rights and civil liberties. He was one of the most prominent African American judges on the federal bench and issued rulings that had impact both in Michigan and nationwide. After Keith died at age 96 April 28 at his home in Detroit, leaders around the nation hailed his trailblazing career. Keith was appointed a federal judge in 1967 and never retired. He served first as a justice for the U.S. District Court in Detroit, and later was promoted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio. Judge Keith transitioned to senior status in 1995 but continued to hear cases. One of his most famous rulings involved secret hearings to deport alleged terrorists after the September 11 attacks in 2001. Ruling against the secret hearings he famously declared “Democracies die behind closed doors.” Damon Keith issued rulings in important cases involving civil rights and civil liberties. Judges today often have to rule on cases involving these issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a ruling involving one of these issues. Use what you read to write an editorial analyzing the ruling and whether you agree with it. Use evidence from your reading to support your opinion.
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. Record-Setting ‘Endgame’
Marvel Studios’ superhero movies have been hugely popular over the last 11 years. From the first “Iron Man” in 2008, they have attracted enormous audiences eager to follow the exploits of heroes like Black Panther, Spider-Man, Captain America, the Hulk and Captain Marvel, either alone or in teams. Now Marvel has outdone itself. Its new “Avengers: Endgame” has shattered records for ticket sales all over the world. Billed as an “End of an Era” film for the Marvel heroes, “Endgame” sold more than $1.2-billion in tickets in its opening weekend, including a record $350-million in the United States and North America. In doing so, it smashed previous ticket records set by last summer’s Marvel blockbuster “Avengers: Infinity War.” And because many fans will see it more than once, it could well be the most successful film of the year. Superhero movies appeal to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. In the newspaper or online find and read stories about the popularity of superhero movies. As a class, discuss some you have seen and use points from the discussion to write a column exploring why such movies are so popular.
Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
3. Making History
The yearly swimsuit issue of the magazine Sports Illustrated has opened a lot of eyes over the years. Since it first appeared in 1964, it has featured beautiful women in skimpy bikinis posed on gorgeous beaches around the world. This year’s edition, which comes out this week, will have something entirely different. For the first time ever, the magazine will feature a model dressed in a hijab head scarf and a burkini, the full-coverage swimsuit worn by some Muslim women that leaves only the hands, feet and face exposed. The model, Halima Aden, will be “making history” by proving “that there is a place for modest Muslim women in the fashion industry,” the magazine announced. Even before this assignment, Aden has had quite a history. A Somali American, she was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, won nationwide attention by entering the Miss Minnesota USA pageant and was the first Muslim woman to appear on the cover of a major American magazine while wearing a hijab. Magazines, the fashion world and advertising are recognizing diversity more and more in recent years. In the newspaper or online, find examples of ads, photos or messages that reflect the diversity of nations and the different cultures of the world. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper on the importance of acknowledging diversity in popular culture.
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. Moon Station
The United States has just announced it wants to land astronauts on the Earth’s moon again within the next five years. The Asian nation of China wants to do something even more ambitious. China's National Space Administration says it intends to build a manned research station near the moon’s south pole within 10 years. Up to now, the United States is the only nation to land astronauts on the moon, and the last was 47 years ago in 1972. China has demonstrated intense interest in exploring the moon and landed the first rover explorer on the far side of the moon earlier this year. China now spends more on space missions than any country except the United States. In space, economics and other fields, China is growing in influence in the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about China’s efforts to be a bigger player in world affairs. Use what you read to create a chart or poster showing Chinese advances in different fields.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.
5. Big Marathon Problem
At 26.2 miles, marathon races are a huge challenge for distance runners. They’re an even bigger challenge if you run wearing a giant costume that looks like a famous building. At this year’s London Marathon in the European nation of England, marathon runner Lukas Bates wanted to set a new world record for the fastest marathon time dressed as a landmark building. Bates dressed as London’s famous Big Ben clock tower, and the five-foot height of the costume likely cost him the record. Bates covered the course without difficulty, but had trouble crossing the finish line because his costume was too tall to get under the timing clock hanging above. He had to try several times and even got help from a race official but couldn’t get across until he got down on his knees and crawled. The hang-up cost him valuable time, and he missed breaking the record by just 20 seconds. People try to set records in many unusual ways, and the Guinness World Records organization keeps track of them all. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about odd Guinness records people have tried to set. Pick one and write a creative story exploring why setting the record was important to the person or group trying to set it. Your story can be serious or humorous.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.