1. Toy Gun Lawsuit
Toy guns often are so realistic they can be mistaken for real guns. That can cause problems — and tragedy — for both citizens and police. In Cleveland, Ohio, the police Patrolmen’s Association has announced it will file a lawsuit against toy gun manufacturers to get them to restrict the design of toy guns so they don’t look realistic. The issue is a painful one in Cleveland, where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by police who mistook a toy gun he had for a real one. “These fake weapons put the community at risk, put law enforcement at risk,” said the attorney for the Patrolmen’s Association. “Something has to be done.” Lawsuits often are filed to seek changes in the way things are done, or to prevent activities people feel are dangerous. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a lawsuit that is seeking to change activities or behavior. Use what you read to write a short editorial, giving your view on what impact the lawsuit will have, and whether you think it was the best way to deal with the issue involved.
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.
2. Girls’ Education
A U.S. initiative designed to give girls more education opportunities around the world has been discontinued as an independent program. The “Let Girls Learn” program had been started by Michelle and Barack Obama in 2015 to advance education opportunities for adolescent girls in developing countries. It was led by the U.S. Peace Corps, but that is changing. While a spokesman for the Peace Corps said the agency would continue its efforts for girls’ education, “moving forward, we will not continue to use the ‘Let Girls Learn’ brand or maintain a stand-alone program,” according to an email from Peace Corps acting director Sheila Crowley. In many countries, girls do not have the same access to education as they do in the United States. In teams, use the newspaper and Internet to research countries where girls have limited access to education. Use what you read to design a website offering information about limits on girls’ education around the world. 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 briefly explain each category.
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.
3. A Gift of Colors
Matthew Alzamora is a popular high school teacher in eastern Pennsylvania, teaching European studies and organizing exotic educational trips for students. He wants students to see European culture with their own eyes on trips to landmarks like the Eiffel Tower in France and the Roman Colosseum in Italy. Now his students have returned the favor, literally changing the way he sees the world. At a recent assembly, they presented Alzamora with special glasses they had bought that will allow him to see colors for the first time. Though he loves art and architecture, Alzamora is colorblind, mixing up purples and blues and oranges and yellows. When his students learned that special EnChroma glasses could correct colorblindness, they decided that was the perfect way to thank him for his efforts. “You make our lives more colorful. Now it’s time for us to repay the favor!” The students raised more than $400 to buy the glasses. The EnChroma glasses are an example of technology being used to provide new services and help for people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories or ads about another new use of technology. Use what you read to write a consumer column, summarizing the benefits of the new technology, and any shortcomings that might exist.
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. Bird Steps Down
Larry Bird is the only person in the history of the NBA to earn honors as Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year. Now he will start a new chapter, after announcing he will step down as president of the Indiana Pacers. Bird, who grew up and went to college in Indiana, was an All-Star 12 times as a player for the Boston Celtics and won three NBA titles. After retiring, he joined the Pacers, first as coach and then as president. He will remain a consultant for the team, as general manager Kevin Pritchard takes over as head of basketball operations. Larry Bird has been successful in a number of different roles in pro basketball. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person who has been successful in different roles. Use what you read to create a Venn diagram showing skills needed for each role, and skills needed that are common for both roles.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.
5. Eagle ‘Chop Shop’
The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States and a sacred creature to many Native American people. It is also the target of a vicious black market industry that not only hunts the birds illegally, but sells body parts for large sums of money. This spring, federal authorities broke up a multi-state eagle operation, and 15 people face charges for activities that stretched from hunting grounds in the state of Wyoming to black markets in Los Angeles. Traffickers are charged with selling eagle claws, heads, tails and feathers as well as full carcasses. “It was a chop shop for eagles,” a federal prosecutor said. Bald eagles are no longer endangered but they still have protected status under federal law. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another endangered or protected species. Use what you read to create a multi-media presentation for the class, detailing why the species is at risk, what steps are being taken to protect it, what penalties exist for harming it, and whether you think those penalties are strong enough.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; 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.