1. Women in Power
In America’s midterm elections, so many female candidates are running that 2018 has been called “The Year of the Woman.” It won’t be known how many of those candidates will be successful until ballots are counted on November 6. But in the African nation of Ethiopia, it’s already clear there has been a game-changing “Year of the Woman.” Ethiopia’s reform-minded prime minister has made history by appointing women to half the positions in his cabinet of top advisors. And not just minor positions. Women now hold cabinet positions controlling defense, security, science, revenue, trade, labor and transportation. “Our women ministers will disprove the adage that women can’t lead,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said when announcing the appointments. Women are having a huge impact on politics in the United States this year. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about women running for high offices. Use what you read to write an editorial analyzing what it would mean for the nation if many women are successful in the November 6 elections. Consider attitudes and approach as well as policies. Discuss as a class.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
2. Starbucks Breakthrough
In today’s business world, stores and restaurants often target audiences they want to attract. But in Washington, D.C., Starbucks has taken that idea to a new level. Starbucks has opened its first U.S. store that operates using American Sign Language — the finger-spelling technique used by deaf and hearing-impaired people. On top of that, the store is run by a team of 24 deaf, hearing-impaired and hearing people. The store is located just blocks from Gallaudet University, the world’s only university designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. It is hard to miss. The Starbucks name is spelled out on its sign in American Sign Language. The Starbucks sign-language store is an example of an organization taking steps to be more inclusive. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another business or organization taking steps to be inclusive. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper outlining how the effort benefits both the business and the people it seeks to include.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.
3. Chip Tech
All over the world, digital technology is changing the way people live. In the European nation of Sweden, it is also changing their bodies. More specifically, technology is being inserted into people’s bodies to help them perform the daily tasks of living. People are lining up to get microchips inserted into their hands so that they can get into homes, offices, gyms or electronic devices just by swiping their hands over scanners. The chips also can be used to store emergency contacts, social media information and even e-tickets for events. The chips sell for about $180 and can be inserted into a person’s thumb area using a syringe. The company that makes the chips says it is having trouble keeping up with demand. Technology advances can change the way people do things. They also can be a source of inspiration for science fiction stories or movies. With a partner, find and closely read stories about advances in technology. Pick one and brainstorm an idea for a sci-fi movie based on something going out of control with the technology. Write an outline for your movie and give it a title. Then write the opening scene in the form of a screenplay.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
4. Tanning Risks
It may seem odd to say going to the gym may be unhealthy. But it can be, if the gym offers tanning beds or tanning booths, according to Consumer Reports magazine. Tanning beds increase the risk of skin cancer, and if they are located in a gym or health club people may be more likely to use them, researchers say. The magazine reports that a study by the medical journal JAMA Dermatology found that as many as half the gyms and health clubs in the United states now offer tanning along with weights and exercise machines. “These facilities are offering their customers one very healthy behavior and one very unhealthy behavior under the same roof,” said the lead author of the JAMA study. The risk is significant. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that indoor tanning may cause 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States each year, the magazine said. The risks of tanning booths and tanning beds are a health issue important to the public. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another health risk that is important to people. Use what you read to write a one-minute radio commercial calling attention to this risk. Remember that you can’t use images in a radio ad, so choose dramatic and compelling words to get people’s attention. What would be your opening statement? What would be your closing? Read your ad aloud and time it to make sure it does not run longer than one minute. Discuss the challenges of writing this kind of ad.
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.
5. Photo Search
Because it has spectacular scenery, photographers love California’s Yosemite National Park. Matt Dippel is no exception, and he was especially excited when he captured a special moment. While shooting at the park’s popular Taft Point cliff, he witnessed a memorable wedding proposal. A man got down on one knee to propose just feet from the edge of the cliff. Dippel, who is a freelance photographer, knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime shot, and he rushed to the point to get the names of the happy couple. Unfortunately, they had left by the time he got there, and he has been searching for them ever since. He posted the picture on Facebook and asked for help from TV and news organizations, but the mystery couple didn’t immediately come forward. Photos can tell stories in ways that words alone cannot. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo that tells a story, expresses an emotion or shows how people connect. Think like an art or photography critic and write a short “review” of this photo, explaining why it is appealing and/or effective.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; reading visual and written texts closely.