Resources for Teachers and Students
, week of
Nov. 17, 2014
1. Birds Chase Rain
Can birds predict when it’s going to rain? On the continent of Australia, a bird called the banded stilt seems to be able to do that. Whenever the stilt shows up in a new area, it’s a sign rainy days are ahead. Banded stilts are water birds that normally live in inland salt lakes. But scientists have noted that they often appear hundreds of miles away just days before a rainfall and disappear just as abruptly when the rains end. No one is quite sure how the bird knows when and where to travel, but it is now being tracked by satellite transmitters in an effort to understand its movements. The movements of wildlife can tell scientists a lot about food supplies, seasonal changes and climate conditions, researchers report in the science journal called Biology Letters. In the newspaper, find a story or photo involving a species of wildlife. Use what you read and prior knowledge to write a poem that describes what the movements of the species can tell scientists. Start each line of your poem with the worlds “When I move…”
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
2. Ancient Shipwreck Discovered
Divers have discovered the skeleton of a ship that sank thousands of years ago in the dark Mediterranean waters north of Sicily near the European nation of Italy. Archaeologists believe the ship may date back to the ancient Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage. Scientists believe the ship Panarea III was a 50-foot-long vessel supplying the Roman military in the war more than 2,200 years ago, and may have broken up on rocks before sinking. The cargo of the ship lies scattered on the ocean floor amid piles of terra cotta jars called “amphora.” Italian and American researchers are working with Global Underwater Explorers, a Florida-based group, on the project. Shipwrecks give archaeologists information about the past because they often contain things the ships were carrying. In the newspaper or online, find a modern form of transportation people use. Think of the things people would carry or bring with them when using this kind of transportation. Write a paragraph describing what these things would tell future scientists about the way people live today.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
3. A 60-Hour Show
The Marathon Variety Show — 60 straight hours of nonstop performances — is scheduled to run from 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 1 to 7 a.m. on Sunday, January 4 at The Metropolitan Room in New York City. It is expected to be eligible for a Guinness World Record as the longest variety show ever. Up to 100 performers are expected to participate — singers, pianists, comedians, magicians and others — and complimentary breakfasts are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday mornings. Audience members who stay longest will receive prizes — but sleeping will not be permitted. When something is a “marathon,” it means it lasts a long time. What performers would you like to include if you were going to put on a marathon variety show? In teams, pick performers from the newspaper, the Internet and your personal favorites. Then give your show a name and design a series of newspaper ads to promote it. Be creative!
Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
4. ‘Megadrought’ Ahead?
When an area doesn’t have rain for a long time, it is said to be experiencing a drought. The American Southwest has had numerous droughts in recent years, and scientists now say it may be in for a “megadrought” — a drought that lasts decades. And according to a new study, it’s because of global warming. Most of California already is in “exceptional drought,” scientists note, and much of the rest of the region is in moderate or severe drought. It could be “worse than anything seen during the last 2,000 years,” they warn, leading to “unprecedented challenges to water resources” and forcing mass migration of people and wildlife from water-starved areas. To prepare, the scientists say, people should take steps today to preserve “the precious water that we have.” Droughts can have severe effects on natural habitats. In the newspaper or online, find a photo of a natural outdoor scene. Imagine it has been hit by a severe drought. Draw a series of comic strips showing how drought would affect the wildlife, plants and people who use or live in the area.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
5. More in Pre-School
More than 50,000 young New York City children have been enrolled in pre-kindergarten this year, and that has expanded the reach of public education in the nation’s largest school system. It is by far the largest pre-school program of its kind in the country. New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio has pushed for the move in the belief that quality programs for 4-year-olds will help improve their later success in school. The mayor hopes to expand the program to 70,000 pre-kindergarten seats, which would provide a place for every 4-year-old in the city. As a class, talk about ways that students could be helped by being involved in pre-school programs that combine play and learning. Write a short letter to the editor of the newspaper describing one or two ways a pre-school program could help students.
Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
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