1. Students Step Up
Newspapers once were the prime source of news and information for Americans, but competition from the Internet has forced many to close across the United States. That has left many communities without a local newspaper to report on local government and issues. In the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the student newspaper at the University of Michigan has stepped up to fill the information gap. With student journalists fanning out to cover city government and other issues, the Michigan Daily has become an essential news source for the city of 121,000 people. “If we weren’t covering it, no one would know what’s going on,” government reporter Katherina Sourine told the New York Times. With more than 300 student journalists The Daily has more manpower to cover the news than most local newspapers. And while the students are self-taught, they have reported major stories that have forced the university and other local institutions to change policies. Student journalists are helping the city of Ann Arbor by covering stories that would not get covered otherwise. As a class, brainstorm a list of issues you think should be covered in your neighborhood or community. Break into groups and design a newspaper front page that would display five or six issues in the order of importance to your group (most important at the top). Use the newspaper and Internet to research the issues and write a short news story for each. Share results with the class.
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; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
2. Run for Recycling
Trash, litter and pollution are problems that affect every community. In the state of Florida, a teenager is taking an unusual approach to get people to be more aware of the problems and take steps to solve them. Charlie Richardson is an 18-year-old graduate of Wellington High School near Florida’s east coast, and next month he will run seven marathons in seven days to raise awareness about trash pollution and the need for recycling. “This is our home, [and] if we can’t save our home the future generations that follow us are at risk,” he explained to a local TV station. Richardson is planning to run across the state from Daytona Beach to Clearwater, a distance that almost equals a 26-mile marathon a day. “The run is going to be split up over seven days, which is why I’m calling it seven in seven,” Richardson said. He hopes his run will get people to “recycle a little bit more and use a little bit less,” he said. After the run, Richardson will enroll at the University of Florida, where he'll major in computer programming. Charlie Richardson’s run for recycling is calling attention to an environmental issue in an unusual way. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an issue you think should get more attention. Use what you read to write a short editorial, suggesting unusual or eye-catching ways people could call attention to this issue.
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. Protecting a Landmark
In the southern Pacific nation of Australia, the Uluru rock formation is both a natural wonder and a sacred site to native peoples. Rising more than 2,800 feet from the desert in Australia’s Northern Territory, Uluru’s red coloring and monolith shape have drawn thousands of visitors through the years. Many have come to climb the challenging trail to the top of the formation that is a World Heritage Site as well as a local attraction. The native Anangu people have long opposed tourist climbs as disrespectful to what they feel is the sacred heritage of the location, and this month they closed the site to future climbing. The last legal climb was October 25, and people who attempt to climb Uluru in the future will face heavy fines. The ban took effect exactly 34 years after the national government transferred control of the site to the Anangu, its historical owners. The Anangu say tourists still can visit Uluru, but will be restricted to viewing it from its base. Many nations or communities have landmarks people want to protect. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a landmark in your state or community that you think needs protection, or greater protection. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, telling why this landmark needs more protection, and what steps could be taken to protect it.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.
4. Spreading the Word
Like the U.S. women's national soccer team, the girls who play varsity soccer for Burlington High School in Vermont believe women should get “equal pay for equal play.” But when they revealed “#EQUALPAY” T-shirts under their uniforms during a game this fall, four of the girls were penalized by the referee because Vermont high school rules prohibit athletes from wearing clothing that displays slogans. That didn’t dampen their message, however. When their story went viral on the Internet, the Burlington girls got overwhelming support from supporters around the world, CNN News reported. Former Olympic soccer star Brandi Chastain thanked the girls for “taking your jerseys off for #equalpay” and Vermont’s U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and his wife modeled the shirts in Washington, DC. Support has also come from people who want to buy the shirts. More than 1,000 people in the community and elsewhere have ordered shirts at $25 each. Men are invited to pay an additional 16 percent to represent the wage gap between men and women in Vermont. Teens often take action to call attention to issues or problems. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about teens doing this. Use what you read to write a personal opinion column, analyzing what the teens are doing, how that calls attention to the issue and how effective you think their actions are. In your column, suggest alternative actions that you think could be more effective.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. Impossible Success
When Burger King introduced its all-vegetable Impossible Whopper, many people wondered if customers used to beef burgers would buy it. Well, the verdict is in: People love the all-veggie burger. So much so that Burger King just recorded its strongest sales quarter in four years. In the third quarter that ended September 30, sales at existing Burger King restaurants grew 5 percent, the best performance since 2015. Worldwide sales were up nearly 10 percent. Burger King officials said the popularity of the Impossible Whopper was the main reason for the increase. Businesses measure success by the number of sales made in a quarter or year. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a business that has been successful this year. Use what you read, additional research or personal knowledge to write a business column explaining why the business has been successful and whether you think the success will last.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.