, week of
Feb. 03, 2020
1. Kobe’s Causes
When basketball legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, people all over the world struggled for ways to honor his legacy. Many looked for ways connected to his achievements on the basketball court. Others looked to his work in the community and the charities he supported. They urged people to continue his work by supporting causes he supported. Among those causes: The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, which operates a youth soccer club that teaches young athletes how to become leaders and independent thinkers through sports; My Friend’s Place, a youth drop-in center that provides services to homeless kids in Los Angeles, California; the After-School All-Stars program, which offers after-school activities and services for low-income children; the Make A Wish Foundation, which grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses; the Stand up to Cancer program, which raises money for cancer research; and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, for which Bryant and his wife were founding donors. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about causes Kobe Bryant supported. Pick one and write a letter to the editor telling why you think supporting it would be a fitting tribute to the NBA legend. Or suggest another cause you think would honor him in a positive way.
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. Reach Out & Help
Teenage suicide is a growing worry across the United States as students struggle with depression, isolation, anxiety, bullying and other emotional issues. Many communities have launched suicide prevention programs to reach out to teens and give them assurance that their lives matter. At a high school in the city of Denver, Colorado, students themselves reached out when a worrisome message was found written on the wall of a girls’ bathroom. “Is life worth all the B.S.?” the message asked. With the encouragement of English teacher Ashley Ferraro, students rallied to answer the question with a wide range of positive messages. The messages were written on Post-It notes and placed on the wall next to the original question, CNN News reported. More than 50 students wrote notes, with messages like “you will find love in your future ... in yourself ... and in your favorite things. …” A sophomore at the school turned the effort into a Facebook campaign, raising money for Suicide Prevention and Crisis services. Preventing teen suicides is a challenge facing every community. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different approaches communities have taken. Use what you read to create a TV ad campaign to discourage teens from considering suicide. Create a motto for your campaign that will get students’ attention. Design one or two ads and explain your ideas to the class.
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; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
3. Racially Profiled
Racial profiling is an issue affecting people of color all over the United States. After a Michigan man won a racial discrimination lawsuit against a former employer, he was reminded of that when he went to the bank to deposit the settlement checks. The bank racially profiled him and charged him with bank fraud for having three checks totaling $99,000 — without checking to see if the checks were real. According to a lawsuit filed against TCF Bank in the city of Livonia, a bank assistant manager called the police when Sauntore Thomas, 44, tried to deposit the checks in an account he had with the bank. The bank filed a police report accusing Thomas of fraud, even after he contacted his lawyer to prove the checks were from a court settlement. No charges were filed, and the bank later apologized and said the manager should have deposited the checks but put a hold on the money until the checks cleared and were verified. That would have happened with white customers, according to Thomas’s lawyer, who said he had been targeted for “banking while black.” “An assumption was made about him right away,” lawyer Deborah Gordon told the Washington Post newspaper. “That’s part and parcel of being an African American male in this country.” After the incident, Thomas withdrew all his money from TCF Bank and deposited it with Chase Bank — without incident. Racial profiling is a problem in many communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a case of racial profiling. Use what you read to write an editorial recommending a change of policy or approach that would prevent such profiling in the future.
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.
4. Moon Partner
When Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa advertised for a “life partner” to accompany him on a trip to the moon, there were a lot of smiles and chuckles around the world. Now it appears Maezawa may be getting the last laugh. More than 20,000 women have applied to be his partner when he becomes the first private passenger to fly to the moon. Yusaku Maezawa, 44, is due to travel to the moon in 2023 on the first tourist flight by the SpaceX aviation company. He will look for his “life partner” in a television show called “Full Moon Lovers.” The show, which will be similar in format to “The Bachelor” in the United States, will feature “special dates” on which women get to know Maezawa while being filmed. Maezawa made his money through the fashion company Zozo and is believed to have a net worth of more than $1.8-billion. Yusaku Maezawa has turned his quest for a “life partner” into a TV show like “The Bachelor.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about such shows and why they are popular. Then think like a TV critic and write a column analyzing why people would want to watch Maezawa’s show.
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;
5. Vivid Art History
Jacob Lawrence was one of the greatest African American artists in the nation’s history. He painted powerful scenes from the lives of black leaders like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, and at age 23 he painted a 60-panel series addressing the Great Migration of black Americans from the southern states to the north. He also was a student of other aspects of American history and painted a famous series depicting “Struggle: From the History of the American People.” This collection was broken up shortly after it made its debut in the 1950s, and hasn’t been seen as a group in 63 years. Until now. A museum in the state of Massachusetts had put together an exhibit of 25 of the paintings from the “Struggle” series and soon it will be traveling to other states as well. The exhibit is now on display at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and will travel to New York City; Birmingham, Alabama; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, DC. The paintings in the series address the Boston Tea Party, the ride of Paul Revere, the Declaration of Independence and Washington crossing the Delaware in addition to the struggles of African Americans to free themselves from slavery. Jacob Lawrence won a wide following for his achievements as an African American artist. In honor of Black History Month, find and closely read a story about another African American who has achieved a wide following. Write a paragraph or short paper examining this person’s achievements and why they are significant. Include your views on whether this person will be as popular in the future as they are today. Share ideas with the class and discuss.
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; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
Lessons & Classroom Activities
Resources by grade level