1. Action on Guns?
After a mass shooting left 12 people dead in Virginia Beach, Virginia, there were renewed calls for legislators around the nation to take action against gun violence. Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam moved quickly to ask his state’s legislature to act. Northam, a Democrat, called a special session of the legislature to take up gun-control measures. “I will summon the members of the Senate and the House of Delegates to meet in special session for the purpose of passing common sense public safety laws,” Northam said at a press conference. “I will be asking for votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers.” That may be easier said than done. The Republican House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox said Republicans are more interested in putting forth measures that “address gun violence by holding criminals accountable with tougher sentences” rather than gun-control moves such as those envisioned by the governor. Northam, who is a physician as well as governor, has proposed measures that include universal background checks, a ban on assault firearms, and reinstatement of a Virginia law that restricted purchases of handguns to one a month. Mass shootings have been increasingly common in the United States, and there has been great debate about what steps could be taken to address the problem. As a class, closely read stories about approaches different leaders have proposed and the debate over them. Then pretend your class is a state legislature. Debate different proposals and see if you can agree on some steps to take to reduce the danger of mass shootings.
Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
2. ‘A-Plus Caring’
At high school graduations students often get advice about how they can change the world in the future. In the city of Houston, Texas, one graduate decided not to wait. Senior Leanne Carrasco decided that instead of having a graduation party for herself, she would throw a party for homeless families. With the help of friends, she served pizza to more than 200 homeless women and children and also gave out bags of much needed personal items like toothbrushes, tooth paste, soap and hand wipes. Her effort was greatly appreciated. Residents of the Star of Hope Family Development Center gave Carrasco hugs and a standing ovation for what she and her friends did. “It was a very magical day,” said a spokesman for the center. “I told her this was her final exam, and she got an A plus.” Students and young adults often help others in unusual or special ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, calling attention to the person’s efforts and how they could inspire others.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
3. More Citizens Approved
Since President Trump took office two years ago, there has been a great deal of talk about illegal immigration. At the same time, LEGAL immigration is resulting in more approvals for people seeking to become U.S. citizens. In 2018, the number of people who became U.S. citizens reached a five-year high, according to a report from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The report noted that 756,800 people were “naturalized” and approved as citizens in fiscal year 2018, an increase of 16 percent from 2014. Just under 90 percent of applications were approved. The agency said it has received more than 2 million naturalization applications in the past two fiscal years. Nearly 850,000 have been approved, with more than 730,000 pending. A foreign national has to be a legal permanent resident of the United States for at least five years before applying for citizenship. People have many reasons for wanting to become a U.S. citizen. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the reasons people give for wanting citizenship. Use what you read to write a personal or political column giving your view on why U.S. citizenship remains a powerful and important goal for people from other countries.
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.
4. A First for Women
In the United States and around the world, women are making great gains in politics and government. In the U.S., a record number of women now serve in the U.S. House (102) and U.S. Senate (25), and six women are running for the Democratic presidential nomination. In the nation of South Africa, women have just achieved another milestone. For the first time in history, women make up half the cabinet of ministers that advises the African nation’s president. President Cyril Ramaphosa said that in making the appointments he not only weighed balance between the sexes but “experience, continuity, competence, generational mix and demographic and regional diversity.” Women in government or politics often argue that they bring a different perspective to issues or governing. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about women in politics and the perspectives and experiences they bring to discussion of issues. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper examining key ways women bring a different perspective to politics and government 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.
5. Prom Queen
At 97 years old, Helen Dannis has had a lifetime of experiences. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t up for something new. This spring, she went to her first high school prom — and was crowned honorary queen! Dannis had not been able to attend her own high school prom in 1939, because money was tight due to the Great Depression. This year, her granddaughter Julie Huddon came up with the idea to ask her grandmom to the prom at her son’s high school in Warwick, Rhode Island. Huddon bought her grandmother a beautiful lavender prom dress and rented a trolley to transport Dannis, Huddon, her son and three friends to the prom site. Dannis was totally taken by surprise when presented a sparkling crown as honorary queen. But she said the night would have been special even without that. “To attend the prom with my great-grandson and my granddaughter made the night even more special,” Dannis told the Washington Post newspaper. Senior citizens often do things late in life that they have always wanted to do. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a senior doing something special like this. Use what you read to write a poem, rap or rhyme “I Did It!” from the perspective of the senior. Tell why the senior wanted to do the special thing and what he/she got out of it. Your poems do not need to rhyme but should contain colorful language conveying the excitement of the senior.
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.