, week of
Aug. 21, 2017
1. Ancient Ape Find
In the African nation of Kenya, the northern Napudet region is an area rich in fossils. But even with that reputation, a discovery announced this summer stands out. Anthropologists report they have found a 13-million-year-old ape skull that may show what human ancestors looked like. The fossil skull was of a baby ape that died in a volcano eruption. More significantly, it was a complete specimen whose features were so well preserved they could be viewed in great detail. X-rays of the fossil gave a clear view of the brain cavity, the inner ears and adult teeth that had not broken through yet. The teeth showed that the infant ape belonged to a previously undiscovered species that may have been a common ancestor to both humans and other primates. The scientists nicknamed the ape fossil “Alesi” after a local word for “ancestor.” The study of fossils enables scientists to learn more about how early humans and wildlife lived and changed over time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a fossil discovery. Write the name of the fossil species down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the name to start a phrase or sentence explaining why the discovery is important, or how it advances what is known about the species.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; closely reading written or visual texts to make logical inferences from it.
2. Oprah at the Market
Oprah Winfrey is best known for her work in movies and TV, but she’s also a very successful businesswoman. When she invested in the Weight Watchers program, membership soared and her $43 million investment grew to be worth $294 million. Now she is hoping her influence will extend to the supermarket. She has teamed up with the Kraft Heinz Company to create a line of refrigerated comfort foods under the label O, That's Good! The first products — four soups and four side dishes —will land in grocery stores nationwide by the end of September. “I love healthy foods,” Winfrey said in an announcement, adding that her goal is to make “nutritious comfort foods more accessible to everyone.” The soups will sell for $4.99, the sides $4.49. Ten percent of the profits will be split between the Rise Against Hunger and Feeding America charities. Celebrity endorsements or partnerships give extra attention to products. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a celebrity getting involved with a product. Use what you read to write a short consumer column detailing how the celebrity’s involvement helps the product.
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. Good Deed from Police
Kristin Villanueva graduated first in her high school class in El Segundo, California, and was excited to start college this fall as an engineering student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Then burglars broke into her home and devastated her plans for the next four years. The thieves stole $2,000 she had saved up to pay for tutoring to help her adjust to her college studies, and because she hadn’t put the money in a bank, she felt it was gone for good. Then the local police department stepped in. El Segundo police set up an online GoFundMe account to replace the stolen cash, and in just nine days raised $5,000. “It was a bummer,” said of the theft when officers presented her with a replacement check. “But I’m really happy that they were able to turn it around.” People who do good deeds can inspire other people. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about people doing good deeds. Then use what you find to write a “Good Deeds” editorial to share inspiring stories. Point out how these stories could inspire other people. Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.
4. Prisoners Cool Off
In the summer months, the state of Texas is one of the hottest places to be in the United States. Temperatures frequently top 100 degrees and 90-degree days are common. Things got so intense at one state prison that inmates and their families filed a lawsuit to get relief. This summer, after a legal battle that lasted years, a federal judge ruled that the Wallace Pack Unit prison near Houston had to come up with a plan to cool the facility, which does not have air conditioning in many prisoner areas. As a result, the prison has moved 1,000 prisoners to two air-conditioned prisons nearby until the summer heat subsides. Judges often make rulings that affect the way people are treated. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a judge’s ruling that does this. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing the key points of the judge’s ruling and how they might apply to other situations.
Common Core State Standards: Closely reading written or visual texts to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
5. Female Coach for NFL
Every day in the world of jobs and careers, women are getting new opportunities for success. This fall, sports coach Katie Sowers will get a chance to show she can cut it at the highest level of football — in the National Football League. Sowers has accepted a season-long coaching position on the staff of head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers, making her just the second full-time female assistant coach in NFL history. The 31-year-old Sowers worked with the 49ers’ wide receivers during training camp as part of the 49ers’ Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship and will continue as a receivers coach during the season. Last summer she interned with the Atlanta Falcons, when Shanahan was the team’s offensive coordinator. The first woman to be a full-time NFL coach was Kathryn Smith, who was hired by the Buffalo Bills as special teams quality control coach before last season. When women achieve success in a career, it can open doors for other women. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a woman achieving success or breaking barriers in her career. Use what you read to write a personal opinion column examining how this woman’s success could open doors or inspire other women. Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.