1. Harriet Tubman Inspires
Harriet Tubman was one of the great heroes of American history, leading hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. A new art mural at the Harriet Tubman Museum in the state of Maryland captures her strength and spirit, and a photo of an African American girl reacting to the mural has become an Internet sensation. The mural shows Tubman reaching out to lend a hand to slaves seeking freedom from plantations in the American South. In the photo that has gone viral on the Internet, 3-year-old Lovie Hope Duncan reaches out to touch Tubman’s hand. Artist Michael Rosato is excited the photo has made his mural an Internet hit. It “just clicks on so many levels,” he said. Photos are an important way to tell stories and connect with the emotions of viewers. In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo that tells a special story or connects with emotions in a special way. Write a paragraph explaining how the photo tells the story in a way that words alone could not.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. A Huge Kindness
There’s a big difference between knowing the right thing to do, and actually doing it. A teenager in the city of St. Louis, Missouri demonstrated that dramatically this month when he helped a man get home to safety ahead of a storm that threatened tornadoes. Sixteen-year-old Seth Phillips was riding with his mother when he saw Gregory Beck struggling in his wheelchair as tornado-warning sirens sounded. Other cars were honking their horns and yelling to Beck that he had to get home and out of the storm. Phillips decided to take things into his own hands. He got out of his car, got behind Beck’s wheelchair and pushed him up a hill to the safety of his home before the storm hit. Beck, who lost both legs last year, said it would have taken him nearly a half hour to cover the distance on his own, a dangerously long time when tornadoes were predicted. And why did Phillips jump out of his car when no one else did? “We need to be caring for each other and helping each other out,” he told a local TV station. People often do extra special things to help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone helping others in a special way. Use what you read to write a short editorial, detailing how this act could inspire others to help people and why that would make the community a better place.
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.
3. New Pizza
With more than 18,000 restaurants, Pizza Hut is one of the most successful pizza chains in the world. But competition is growing from rivals like Domino’s and Papa John’s, and Pizza Hut is making changes to keep pace. For the first time in nearly 40 years, it is making changes to its famous pan pizza recipe. The new recipe will feature a new blend of cheeses, a new sauce and a newly designed pan that will produce a crispier crust. “We know that taste is king for our customers,” a Pizza Hut spokesman said when announcing the change. The new pan pizza was introduced last week and will be available for a reduced price for a limited time. Businesses often try new things to grow or respond to competition. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a business trying something new. Use what you read to write a paragraph predicting whether you think the new approach will be successful, and why.
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. Terrible Air
Air pollution can cause huge problems in cities around the world. It has been particularly bad in Mexico City this spring, when forest fires made everyday pollution even worse. In response, government officials took the unusual steps to close schools, shut down playgrounds and advise parents to keep children indoors with the windows closed. A soccer match between two top adult teams was moved to another city due to the poor air quality and thousands of vehicles were ordered off the streets to reduce exhaust fumes. Mexico City, which is the capital of the nation just south of the United States, has long had a pollution problem because it is located in a “bowl” between mountains that trap smog and other pollutants. Air pollution is a problem in many cities and communities. In teams or pairs, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about a community dealing with air pollution. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short movie describing this pollution problem and what the community is doing to deal with it. Write an outline for your movie, including images you would show. Then write the opening scene and explain to the class why you would open the movie in this way.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
Many people are afraid of insects, and a university in the Asian nation of China came up with an unusual way to deal with the fears of students. It set up an insect culture festival to teach students about different bugs — and then to eat them! The festival sponsored by the university’s Insect Society featured long tables of cooked and dried cockroaches, wasps and grasshoppers, a chocolate cake topped with worms and a broccoli and tomato dish topped by fried winged insects. According to the Insect Society, insects not only contain proteins and fat, but other nutrients that benefit the human body. “At first it was scary to even look at the bugs but after a while I tried some and they were actually pretty tasty,” one student told the Beijing News newspaper. Festivals and other public events can provide fun learning for people about issues or activities they don’t know about. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an issue or activity you think people should know more about. Use what you read to plan a festival or public event that would teach people about your topic in a fun way. Write a proposal for your event, telling how it would teach people, and how it would make learning fun.
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.