1. Help for Kids in Poverty
For years, government leaders and the U.S. Congress have been looking for ways to reduce childhood poverty for families across America. This month, a provision in the $1.9-trillion coronavirus aid package signed by President Biden will make a big dent in childhood poverty and lift as many as 5-million children out of it. The support will come in the form of direct payments to families via checks, debit cards or direct deposits as part of an expansion of the child tax credit program run by the Internal Revenue Service. Families with citizen children will now get $3,000 per child per year, and $3,600 for children under the age of six. That comes out to $250 to $300 per child in direct payments each month from now to the end of the year, with the remainder of the year’s benefits available when people file their income tax returns. Parents of more than 65 million children will receive the payments, which not only will help the poorest families but also those who are more well off. The payments in the coronavirus aid package will help millions of families get out of poverty. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the effects of this support on families. Use what you read to write an editorial offering your view on whether this support should be extended beyond the end of this year.
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. New Name for a Moth
Can the common name of a bug be politically incorrect? Yes, according to the Entomological Society of America, an organization that has represented educators, scientists and other insect experts for more than 130 years. So starting now, an insect long known as the “gypsy moth” will be only known by its Latin name, Lymantria dispar dispar, or LDD, until a new “common” name can be chosen. The problem is the word “gypsy,” which is considered a derogatory name for the Romani people of Europe and North America. Because the Romani (or Roma) moved from place to place, the word “gypsy” was applied to the moths, which do the same thing. LDD moths are an invasive species in the United States that defoliate and endanger trees and forests. Many communities and organizations are re-examining terms, traditions and practices that can be seen as racially insensitive or derogatory. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about changes being made to address racially insensitive or derogatory practices of the past. Pick one and write a paragraph or short paper tracing how the practice came to be, why it lasted so long, and how changing it can benefit individuals, groups and the community.
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.
3. Kaboom Golf
Teen athletes often make news by achieving unusual things. Few, however, have had as unusual an experience as an 18-year-old in the city of San Antonio, Texas. At a golfing entertainment center, Tomas Gomez hit a golf ball into a driving rain storm, and watched in amazement as it was struck by lightning while traveling 88 miles per hour. The once-in-a-lifetime event caused a midair explosion that sent Gomez and his friends ducking for cover at the Topgolf center, TV station KSAT reported. And Gomez was lucky enough to have a friend recording his shot on video, so no one can doubt his claim. “It was all a blur,” Gomez said later. “It could have hit me. ... it could have hit any of us. It was actually pretty scary after I was thinking about it for a while.” Violent weather “close calls” are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one such “close call.” Use what you read to prepare a one-minute TV news report on the close call. Include images from the newspaper or Internet in your report. Read it aloud and time it to make sure it does not go over one minute. Talk with friends and family about the challenges of telling a story in a limited amount of time and words.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
4. Record for Leonardo
Leonardo da Vinci was a man of many talents. Born in 1452 in the European nation of Italy, he was a scientist, engineer, sculptor and thinker who was years ahead of his time in his ideas and achievements. He also was a great artist, whose paintings like the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper” are among the most popular in the world. Da Vinci’s art made news again this month when one of his drawings was sold at an auction and set a new record for the Italian master. The drawing of the “Head of a Bear” attracted a selling price of $12.2-million in the auction sale — even though it was just the size of a Post-it note at about 3-inches-by-3-inches. A spokesman for the Christie’s auction house called the “Bear” drawing “small but magnificent.” Artworks by great artists often command amazing prices when they are sold at auctions where buyers bid and compete against each other. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an art auction in which a work sold for an astronomical price. Use what you read to write an analysis of why the price was so high and the artist so valued.
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.
5. Long-Lost & Found
It’s often said that a parent’s love is never ending. In the Asian nation of China, a couple was rewarded for that love this summer after a 24-year search for their kidnapped son. Guo Gangtang and his wife Zhang Wenge never gave up on the search for their son after he had been kidnapped as a 2-year-old at a time when China restricted families to having only one child. The restriction led to many kidnappings on behalf of families who wanted a son, the New York Times reported. Guo Gangtang took his search nationwide when his son was kidnapped and gained wide attention by riding a motorcycle from town to town with a picture of the boy on his back. The picture carried the message “Son, where are you? Dad is looking for you to come home.” Guo’s search inspired the 2015 movie “Lost and Love,” which starred leading Hong Kong actor Andy Lau. Guo Gangtang’s son, now 26, was identified by DNA testing, state officials said, though they did not immediately reveal how his whereabouts became known to officials. Parents often do extraordinary things in support of their children. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about parents doing something extraordinary on behalf of a child or children. Use what you read to create a Parenting Award for the parents in the story. Write the text for the award, detailing what the parents did and why it was extraordinary or special. Create a design for the award that would make the parents want to frame or display it.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.