1. Inauguration Day
Wednesday is Inauguration Day, when President-Elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office in Washington, DC. The day gets its name from the word “inaugurate” (in-OG-yur-ate), which means “to begin,” and on that day Biden will begin his term as the nation’s 46th president. But it will be a beginning like no other in American history. Security in Washington will be extremely tight, with police, law enforcement and even American soldiers patrolling the streets to protect the President and prevent the kind of violent protest that led Trump supporters to break into the nation’s Capitol building on January 6. Trump voters have continued to protest around the nation since then in the belief expressed by the President that he did not lose the election to Biden. Despite the tight security, and smaller crowds than usual, Biden will use his inauguration speech to outline his goals for the nation. With family or friends discuss the goals outlined by the new President. Write an editorial offering advice to the President on how to achieve his goals and bring the nation together to support them.
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. Impeachment Again
The inauguration of Joe Biden as president will take place against a backdrop of another historic event — the impeachment of outgoing President Donald Trump. Trump’s impeachment a week before he was to leave office marks the first time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached two times for “high crimes and misdemeanors” with the intent of removing him from power. Now attention turns to what the U.S. Senate will do after the U.S. House charged President Trump with “incitement of insurrection” when he urged supporters to march on the nation’s Capitol building January 6 while Congress was counting the electoral votes that confirmed Biden as the nation’s 46th president. Under the U.S. Constitution the House may approve charges against a president, but it is the Senate’s job to conduct a trial and decide whether to convict. Just over a year ago, the Senate refused to convict Trump of impeachment charges that accused him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. That impeachment was sparked by revelations that the President had pressured the president of the European nation of Ukraine to launch an investigation into Biden and his son in connection with release of security aid from the United States — and then obstructing Congress from investigating the matter. The current impeachment is breaking new ground in U.S. history. For starters, a trial may not begin until Trump leaves office on January 20. In addition, there is no legal precedent for conducting a trial, voting to remove a president or banning him from holding office in the future after he is no longer president. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about the debate over the impeachment trial of President Trump. Use what you read to write a political column assessing how you think impeachment will affect President Biden as he tries to implement his goals and his relationship with Congress.
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. Tracking Down the Rioters
It’s often said that there’s no place to hide on the Internet. Photos and messages posted by users can quickly go viral, and they live on in databases even if they are deleted from visible accounts. Rioters who took part in the attack on the Capitol building in Washington, DC, are finding out first hand how great the reach of the Internet can be. Police and the FBI have been using the Internet and social media sites to identify people who took part in the siege, and hundreds of arrests are expected. In addition private crowd-sourcing sites have asked viewers to identify rioters shown on social media sites damaging the Capitol in support of President Trump. Some have lost their jobs when their employers saw them in action. By using the Internet, social media and crowd-sourcing sites, police are employing technology in new ways to track down people who have broken the law. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other ways law enforcement is using technology to improve investigations. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend, outlining ways technology is being used, what benefits it provides and what risks it could pose for citizens.
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.
For next activity please hotlink the word “here” to www.pbslearningmedia.org
4. Attic Learning
The Smithsonian Institution is often called “the nation’s attic” for the millions of items it has in the 19 museums it runs. It could also be called “the nation’s school.” The Smithsonian was founded more than 150 years ago to expand and spread knowledge, and now it has teamed up with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to reach and teach students in a new way. The Smithsonian and PBS have just announced they will share some of the institution’s best digital education materials in science, art and history through PBS LearningMedia, a website that provides free lessons for students ranging in age from Pre-K to Grade 12. The website will showcase material already created by the Smithsonian, but the Smithsonian and PBS hope to create new materials through the partnership. To see what PBS LearningMedia offers students and schools, click here. The partnership between the Smithsonian and PBS is a new way to offer online learning to students, teachers and parents. Use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories about other new approaches being tried for online learning. Use what you read to write a letter to a teacher or your principal, outlining the benefits of some of these approaches, or ways your school could take advantage of the Smithsonian-PBS partnership.
Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
5. Ice Spectacular
In the Asian nation of China, the yearly Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is the biggest snow and ice celebration in the world. It is so big it has been compared to a small city, featuring ice sculptures shaped like buildings, statues, monuments and light displays that show the sculptures in bright colors. This year there will even be a “crystal palace” made of ice, a 220-square-foot “ice bar” and a scale model of China's first aircraft carrier made entirely out of snow. The festival, which usually draws hundreds of thousands of visitors, will be a little different this year due to coronavirus safety regulations. Live performances and events have been canceled, and all visitors will need to “present their health codes when entering the park, get their temperature measured, wear masks at all times, and keep a [safe] distance from others,” Chinese officials said. The festival runs through the end of February. The Harbin Ice Festival takes advantages of the natural resources surrounding the city. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and photos involving natural resources in your state or community. Brainstorm an idea for a safe outdoor festival based on these resources. Write a proposal for your festival and give it a name that would make people want to attend. For added fun, write an outline for a TV ad promoting your festival.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.