, week of
Sep. 04, 2017
1. Harvey & Social Media
Social media have made it possible to communicate faster and more widely than ever before. And they make communication possible in real time. That can be crucial when a disaster like Hurricane Harvey strikes. When 911 services were overwhelmed by rescue requests in the state of Texas, thousands turned to social media like Facebook and Twitter to alert authorities about threatening situations. Twitter accounts buzzed with videos and pleas for help, and a Facebook group set up to connect flood victims and possible rescuers had more than 100,000 members in a matter of hours. While officials stressed that social media posts should not substitute for a call to 911, they acknowledged that they helped when people could not get through. In one instance a video of nursing home patients sitting up to their waists in flood water helped speed up rescue efforts. Hurricane Harvey was the first “major hurricane” (Category 3 or higher) in which social media played a big role after landfall in the United States. When the last “major” hit in 2005, Twitter did not yet exist. Social media communication still is playing a role in the story of Hurricane Harvey. It is helping people raise money for victims and stay connected with family, friends and relief organizations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the uses of social media in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Write a letter to the editor offering your views on how to most effectively use social media to aid recovery.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
2. A New iPhone
The Apple iPhone was invented 10 years ago, but that doesn’t mean people don't still get excited when a new version is released. That will occur this month at the company’s annual product launch on September 12. As many as three models may be unveiled at the California event: an iPhone 7S, an iPhone 7S Plus and the so-called iPhone 8, which will be the 10th anniversary edition. The 7S and 7S Plus phones are likely to have modest upgrades, but experts say the anniversary phone could have a new look, richer screen colors, wireless charging and face-recognition technology. The iPhone and other smart phones are examples of technology being used in new ways to help people live, work, communicate and entertain themselves. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another new high-tech product. Think like a consumer columnist, and write a review of the new product, detailing new things it can do and how that will help people or make it popular.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; closely reading written or visual texts to make logical inferences from it.
3. Ancient Wine
Archaeologists are always studying artifacts to learn more about advances that changed the way people lived in the past. This summer, researchers on the Italian island of Sicily announced a discovery that re-writes what experts knew about ancient wine-making. A pottery storage jar found in a Sicilian cave was found to have wine residue that dated back 6,000 years. That indicates people in the area had learned to make wine 3,000 years earlier than previously believed. Ancient wines were not only used in daily life but in religious rituals. Because the Sicilian wine was found in a cave, experts believe it may have been an offering to an underground god. Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, located at the tip of the “boot” formed by the peninsula nation of Italy. In the newspaper, find and closely study a photograph of an indoor or outdoor scene showing items people use in their lives today. Pretend you are an archaeologist from the future and write an analysis of what the items in the photo would tell future generations about the way we live.
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.
4. Firepower for Police
Since he became president, Donald Trump has been a strong supporter of local police departments and law enforcement agencies. Now he has turned that support into action by repealing a program that banned police departments from acquiring high-powered military equipment. The ban on such things as armored vehicles, grenade launchers and high-caliber weapons had been issued by former President Barack Obama in an effort slow what he called the “militarization” of local police. Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions told police that the ban was being reversed to provide “the lifesaving gear that you need to do your job” battling violent crime, gangs, the opioid epidemic and threats from terrorism. There has been much national debate on whether police departments need military-level equipment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the two sides of the issue. Then use what you read to hold a class debate on whether police departments need such equipment. Summarize the arguments on each side.
Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.
5. Honoring a Princess
Britain’s Princess Diana died 20 years ago this summer, and to mark the anniversary her sons Prince William and Prince Harry visited a memorial garden honoring her charity work. Princess Diana was killed at age 36 in a traffic accident in Paris, France when her car crashed in a tunnel in August 1997. At the time, Prince William was 15 and Prince Harry 12. The memorial garden honoring Princess Diana is located on the grounds of Kensington Palace in the city of London. Communities choose to honor people in many different ways. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about different kinds of honors. Then think of a person you feel deserves to be honored. Write a proposal outlining why this person deserves to be honored, and what kind of honor would be best. Share and discuss as a class.
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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.