1. A Lifesaving Transplant
Organ transplants once were rare, but advances in medicine have made them fairly common as lifesaving procedures. Still, the odds are tremendous that a transplant would involve two professional athletes. Baseball great Rod Carew has defied those odds, and he has former NFL player Konrad Reuland to thank. Reuland, who played for the New York Jets and the Baltimore Ravens, died at age 29 of a brain aneurysm while working out last December. He was an organ donor and after he died, his heart and a kidney went to Carew, who desperately needed a heart after suffering complications from a heart attack. The two families tracked each other down and met this month. The Reulands listened to the sound of their son’s heart beating in the chest of the 71-year-old Carew. “I will take care of … this heart, because I've been given a second chance,” Carew told Reuland’s mother. Carew, a Hall of Fame player and a seven-time batting champion, is getting healthier. Organ transplants give people new life and new opportunities. They also give comfort to families who lose a member suddenly or accidentally. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to read a story about an organ transplant. Use what you read to imagine what might be said if the families of the recipient and the donor met. Write a dialogue for a play or TV program showing what might be said. Perform your dialogue for the class.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression.
2. Slavery History
Georgetown University is one of the nation’s great colleges, with a history dating back to 1789 in Washington, D.C. But the Catholic school’s history has not all been positive. In 1838, Jesuit priests sold 272 slaves they owned to keep the college operating at a time it was struggling. That sale became known only last year through the research of genealogists. This month, the university apologized to 100 descendants of those slaves in a “day of repentance” on the college campus. After an emotional religious service, Georgetown renamed a building in honor of the first of the 272 slaves listed on the document of sale. Descendants who attended ranged from young children to elderly men and women, some of whom had traveled from as far as Louisiana, where many of the sold slaves had been sent. The issue of slavery affected institutions all over the United States, not just those in the American South. That is because many people had business connections to slavery or plantations when it was legal in some states before the U.S. Civil War. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an institution researching or discovering past connections to slavery. Use what you read to write an editorial giving your opinion on what the institution should do in response to discovery of past connections. Share editorials as a class and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
3. Honoring Malala
Malala Yousafzai has won admiration around the world as a crusader for girls’ rights to education — and for her courage after she was shot and nearly killed for her views in her native Pakistan. In recognition for her efforts, she now has been named an honorary citizen of Canada and the youngest person ever to be a United Nations Messenger of Peace. Malala earned worldwide attention as a 15-year-old five years ago when she was shot by Taliban extremists on her way home from school. The Taliban, which opposes the education of girls, wanted to silence her opinions as a blogger and spokesperson for girls’ rights. At the United Nations this month, Malala declared “Education is the basic human right of every girl. Once you educate girls … you change the whole society.” Malala, now 19, was co-winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Malala Yousafzai has been honored in many ways for her efforts to promote girls’ education. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone you think should be honored for their beliefs or activities. Use what you read to write a proclamation honoring the person. Focus on beliefs and activities you think would be most relevant to students your age, and support your points with evidence.
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.
4. Hello, Neighbor!
Canada's “Iceberg Alley” is living up to its name this spring. And in the province of Newfoundland, tourists are flocking to the town of Ferryland to see a giant iceberg that has grounded just off shore. The iceberg towers over the town, with a height of more than 150 feet and a length longer than a football field. Iceberg season starts in Newfoundland in the spring when warmer temperatures cause icebergs in the Arctic to break off from larger floes. Ocean currents bring the icebergs south to the coast of Newfoundland, which is Canada’s easternmost province. Iceberg season ends in the fall when Arctic waters start to refreeze. Unusual natural attractions often draw visitors. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an unusual natural attraction you would like to see. Use what you read to design a tourist website promoting the attraction. Design the home page to show categories of information you want to highlight. Pick an image to illustrate each category. Then write headlines and text blocks to make people want to visit the attraction.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
5. No More Giraffe Cam
April the giraffe became a worldwide celebrity when a webcam was set up to watch her pregnancy with a new baby. When she delivered a boy on April 15, all was well at Animal Adventure Park in upstate New York. Then it was announced that April had slightly injured her leg, and fans inundated the park with emails and other messages asking how she was doing. The volume got so great that park officials decided to take down the live webcam because it was becoming a distraction at a time the park was getting ready to open for the season. As for April, park officials said her leg and walking were nearly back to normal in a couple of days. The park is running a contest to name the new baby giraffe online at www.nameaprilscalf.com. Early leaders include Unity, Patches, Apollo and Noah. The story of April the giraffe captured the attention of millions of Internet viewers around the world. What other events are attracting a lot of attention on the Internet and social media this week. Use the Internet to research “most popular” or “trending” topics. Then write a personal column or commentary, giving your views on what “most popular” or “trending” topics say about the interests of Internet users.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information;