1. Starting School Later
For years, school and health officials have debated whether middle and high school students would be better off starting their classes later in the day. Now the state of California has become the first in the nation to require later start times for these older students. The new legislation was inspired by research from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows “teenage students who start their day later increase their academic performance, attendance and overall health.” Under the California law, middle schools cannot begin earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Sleep experts say teen body rhythms make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m. and they need 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night to function at their best. Yet only 13.4 percent of high school students in the nation have a start time of 8:30 a.m. or later, according to the latest statistics. California’s change in start times for middle and high school students is an effort designed to help students be more successful in school. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another effort designed to help students succeed. Use what you read to write a short editorial, analyzing the effort, its benefits and shortcomings, and its prospects for success.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. Role Models in the Sky
All over the country schools are looking for ways to encourage girls to seek careers that use the STEM skills of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. On International Girls in Aviation Day on October 5, Delta Airlines supported this idea in a dramatic and memorable way. Delta flew 120 girls from Salt Lake City, Utah, to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas to learn more about aeronautics and space careers. But that was only part of the experience. Every person involved with the flight — from the pilots to the flight crew to gate agents to the control tower — was a woman. “We know representation matters,” said Beth Poole, Delta’s general manager of pilot development. “At Delta, we believe you have to see it to be it.” The girls who took part in the flight came from STEM schools in the Salt Lake area, CNN News reported. While in Houston, they toured the Johnson Center and had lunch with astronaut Jeanette Epps. Role models can be important to encourage people to pursue careers or activities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person who is a role model in this way. Use what you read to write a personal column discussing how this person is a role model, why role models are important and any role models you have had that have influenced your life.
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.
3. Look 4 a Book
In many high schools, seniors choose to do service projects to help the community and gain experience working on their own. In the town of Sheldon, Iowa, one senior has launched a project that spreads her love of books and encourages younger students to read more outside of school. Senior Sami Noteboom’s project is called Sheldon Look 4 a Book, and it works like a scavenger hunt. To get kids interested in reading, Noteboom hides books for younger readers all over town and challenges students to find them. The books are hidden inside protective plastic bags in places like parks, hiking trails and church locations in the hope kids will find them and read the stories. When she started the program, the response was almost immediate from families of younger readers. She got her first feedback just 20 minutes after announcing Look 4 a Book on a Facebook page she set up for the project. So far she has hidden nearly 200 books for readers in kindergarten through sixth grade. Teachers love the project, telling her “this is such a cool thing for you to do.” It’s an unusual approach, one said, but “It gets the kids really excited about literacy.” In her Look 4 a Book project, Sami Noteboom has included books she read when she was younger to encourage students to read more. As a class, discuss books you read when you were younger that you found interesting or inspiring. Work as a class to create a master list to distribute to younger students in elementary or middle school. Write a description of each book on the list telling what it is about and why younger readers would like it. Distribute your list to younger classes in your school district and write a press release for the newspaper alerting the community.
Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
4. A Milestone Marathon
For the first time in history, someone has run a 26-mile marathon in less than two hours. Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge smashed the two-hour marathon mark on October 12 in a race in the European city of Vienna, Austria. His time won’t be recognized in the record books, however, because he followed a pace car and was assisted by a group of 30 pacemaker runners. Yet by finishing the race in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds Kipchoge proved that it was physically possible to run a 26.2 mile race in under 2 hours. “I am the happiest man,” he said after finishing, adding that he hoped his achievement would inspire others to believe that “no human is limited.” Kipchoge already holds the official world record for a marathon, with a time of 2 hours, 1 minute and 39 seconds in 2018. He also is the reigning Olympic marathon champion. Running a marathon in less than 2 hours was an outstanding sports achievement for Eliud Kipchoge. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another outstanding sports achievement. Pretend you are a television sportscaster who is going to interview the athlete about his/her achievement. Write out five questions you would ask, and why you would ask them.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.
5. Surge in Dengue
Around the world, mosquitoes are spreading the disease known as dengue (DENG-gay) and putting millions of people at risk. Originally a disease of the Earth’s tropical regions, dengue is now spreading to other areas due to global warming and climate change. Health officials fear this year may be the worst ever, with more than 2.7 million cases reported through late August, according to the World Health Organization. “Things are a little grim at the moment,” the leader of WHO’s dengue task force told the Washington Post. Dengue has spread as higher temperatures have spread, health officials say. While it was present in just 10 countries in the 1970s, cases have now been reported in more than 120. That “huge increase” puts more and more people at risk for a disease that can cause hospitalization, loss of work and even death. The surge in the disease dengue is causing great public health concerns around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another issue causing public health concern. Use what you read to create a poster or public-service ad detailing the key points people should know. Give your poster or ad an eye-catching headline that will make people want to learn more. Illustrate your work with images from the newspaper or Internet.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.