, week of
Jan. 14, 2019
1. Welcome Back, Iguanas
The Galapagos Islands off the western coast of South America have some of the most amazing wildlife in the world. But for nearly 200 years, one lizard species hasn’t lived on an island it used to call home. Now, thanks to an experimental program by Galapagos park officials, land iguanas are returning to Santiago Island. The iguanas, which feed on plants and can grow up to five feet long, had been wiped out by invasive predators like feral pigs, cats and rats that were accidentally introduced to the island. This month, 1,400 land iguanas were moved from neighboring North Seymour Island and released on Santiago. Wildlife officials will closely watch the new population of iguanas to see if they nest or if they are threatened by new predators. They won’t have to worry about feral pigs though. The last feral pig was removed from Santiago Island in the year 2000. The return of land iguanas to Santiago Island is an example of people taking steps to help wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another effort to help wildlife. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing how people are helping wildlife and why that is important.
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.
2. Space Pioneer
In the early years of America’s NASA space agency, few women played significant roles. One who did was Nancy Grace Roman, who became NASA’s first chief of astronomy, the first woman to have a leadership position and the chief planner for the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Roman, who died in late December at age 93, drew wide praise for her work as “the mother of the Hubble,” but she was just as proud of her work encouraging girls to go into science. She joined NASA in 1959, a year after it was founded. “The idea of coming in with an absolute clean slate to set up a program that I thought was likely to influence astronomy for 50 years was just a challenge that I couldn’t turn down,” she recalled in an interview for the National Air and Space Museum. Nancy Grace Roman was a trailblazer for women in science. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about a woman who is a trailblazer in another field. Pretend you are going to interview this woman about challenges she has faced. Write out five questions you would ask, and explain why.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
3. What a Pen Pal!
Facebook, social media and email are widely used to keep in touch in the world today. But before they became so popular, “pen pal” programs allowed people to do the same thing by writing letters back and forth and sending them through the mail. For 10 years, a boy in the western Pacific Ocean nation of the Philippines had a special pen pal who wrote him regularly from the state of Texas. The pen pal, who signed his name “G. Walker,” talked about his life and offered support for the boy named Timothy, the Washington Post reported. He also helped pay for the boy’s education and meals through a program known as Compassion International. Timothy never knew who “G. Walker” was until he graduated from the Compassion program. Then he was stunned to discover that “G. Walker” was actually George Herbert Walker Bush — the retired 41st president of the United States. Pen pal programs still exist to help students and others get to know people from other parts of the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another part of the world you would like to learn more about. Use what you read to write a pen pal letter to someone who lives there. In your letter, ask questions about things you would like to know about the other place, and tell things you think are important about your hometown.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. Tomb Drawings
The tombs of ancient Egypt are among the most important in the world. They not only contain mummies, but items that reveal how people lived thousands of years ago. A new tomb discovery is giving scientists an even better picture of ancient life in the form of drawings that are more than 4,000 years old. The colored drawings are “exceptionally well preserved,” officials said. They show family scenes, pottery making, musical performances, sailing, hunting and the making of furniture for funerals. The tomb was the burial site for a priest and includes large colored statues of him and his family. It was discovered under 16 feet of sand at the Saqqara archaeological site located near the ancient city of Memphis. Saqqara was a huge burial ground and contains 11 major pyramids. Tomb drawings show how people lived in ancient times. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories showing how people live today. Draw a picture for each story showing what it says about how we live. Then draw two pictures from your own life that show how people live today.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
5. Chickens to Fight Poverty
Many people in the Asian nation of Pakistan live in poverty. But a new program seeks to help them live better lives — through chickens. The program started by Prime Minister Imran Khan provides five female hens and one male rooster to poor families, so that they can earn income by selling eggs. The chickens also can provide healthy food for the families themselves. The chickens being provided are a breed of native poultry that has been crossed with birds that can survive unstructured backyard life. “They can live in trees, in boxes or under people’s stairs,” one program leader told the New York Times newspaper. “They can eat kitchen scraps instead of expensive feed, and they can outrun predators like cats and foxes.” The Pakistan chicken program seeks to help people who are poor. In teams or pairs, use the newspaper and Internet to find and closely read a story about another program seeking to help poor people. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling the most important way this program will help.
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.
Lessons & Classroom Activities
Resources by grade level