Resources for Teachers and Students
, week of
Jan. 07, 2019
1. Far-Away Visit
Spacecraft launched by America’s NASA space agency have had thousands of successes in the last 60 years. But on New Year’s Day a NASA craft did something that never had been done before. NASA’s New Horizons craft visited a space object farther from Earth than any explored in the past — and sent back photos from its historic “fly-by.” The target of the New Horizons visit was an object known as Ultima Thule, a rock-and-ice formation located 4-billion miles from Earth in the Kuiper Belt region beyond the dwarf planet Pluto. In the first photos sent back, Ultima Thule looked a bit like a snowman, but scientists hope other pictures will shed light on the origins of the solar system. The name means “beyond the borders of the known world.” Space missions help scientists learn more about planets, stars and the solar system. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a space mission. Use what you read to design a poster explaining some of the most important things about the mission. Use images from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your poster.
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.
2. NFL Playoffs
The NFL playoffs are under way, and this weekend the four top teams will be in action for the first time. The New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots earned a week off from the competition because they had the four best records in pro football’s regular season. They will play the winners of “wildcard” games played last weekend. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about these teams. Use what you read to write a sports column discussing which team could face the biggest challenge from its opponent.
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. A Warm Wood Story
When winter comes, staying warm is a top concern for many families. Most use gas, oil or electricity to heat their homes, but 12-million American households burn wood to provide heat. In the state of Washington, a father and his twin sons have made winter a whole lot warmer for families in need. They cut and split enough wood to fill 80 pickup trucks — and then gave it away free to needy families. Shane McDaniel and his sons Henry and Harrison announced the giveaway on Facebook and were stunned at the response. They didn’t realize how many people heated their homes with wood and vowed “no one goes cold in our ’hood this season.” Once their effort spread online, others in their community of Lake Stevens started pitching in. Local volunteers helped sort through the firewood requests, a chimney sweep offered to clean chimneys for free and people even dropped off additional firewood to help reach more people. Volunteers helped make the McDaniel wood project a success. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about other people pitching in to help a person or group achieve a goal. Use what you read to write a short poem telling what good things happen “When I Volunteer … “ Then share poems as a class and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understanding how language functions in different contexts.
4. Bikes for Needy Children
When people grow older, or face health problems, they often make a “bucket list” of things they want to do in the rest of their life. A man from the state of Massachusetts only has one thing on his list: to provide bikes to as many needy kids as he can. Bob Charland restores broken or worn out bikes to make them like new again, and then gives them to underprivileged kids in the city of Springfield. Trained as a mechanic, he has restored more than 1,000 bikes in the last two years, and spent $10,000 of his own money on the project. Many of the kids who receive his bikes “have never had a bike before,” one local school leader told the Washington Post newspaper. “He’s a phenomenal man.” Though Charland is battling a brain tumor, he isn’t ready to slow down. “To spend time with these kids and see their smiles is an amazing feeling,” he said. People often find unusual ways to help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone doing something unusual to help. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, telling what this person has done and how it could inspire others. Include how the person’s action made the community a better place.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. Plastic Pollution
A man who tried to swim across the Pacific Ocean has a message he thinks the world should know: Plastic pollution is growing faster than most people realize as a threat to the world’s oceans. Ben Lecomte spent six months swimming from the Asian nation of Japan to the U.S. state of Hawaii, and at times he said he saw a piece of plastic in the water every three minutes, according to CNN news. At other times he encountered “big, floating plastic … blob[s]” made up of items people use in their homes. “To see that with sea life, that was very disturbing,” he told Hawaii TV station KHON. Lecomte had hoped to swim from Japan to the U.S. city of San Francisco, California, but had to end his trip at the halfway point in Hawaii due to bad weather. He was followed in his swim by a research boat gathering information on pollution from plastics. Pollution from plastics is a problem in the world’s oceans, but also in rivers and lakes and on land. As a class, find and closely read a story on the damage that plastic pollution can cause habitats and the environment. Then write a letter to a local leader, outlining ways you think your community could reduce the amount of pollution from plastics.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
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