1. Teens Take the Lead
In the United States and around the world, teenagers and young adults are increasingly worried about global warming and its effect on the environment. In the U.S. state of Montana, a group of teens and young adults are doing more than protesting, writing letters or contacting government leaders, however. Sixteen of them have teamed up with an environmental legal organization and sued their state. Their unusual legal challenge, which will go to trial in June, is based on language in the Montana state Constitution that guarantees residents “the right to a clean and healthful environment” and requires that the state protect the environment “for present and future generations,” the New York Times newspaper reported. Because of that wording, the teens argue, Montana’s extensive support for fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas is unconstitutional because the resulting pollution is heating the planet and damaging the environment. It is an untested legal approach that is getting national attention because there have been few lawsuits filed on the topic of global warming. In its response to the lawsuit, the state has disputed the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is causing climate change and has unsuccessfully tried to derail the suit. People often file lawsuits to correct problems they feel have been caused by individuals, businesses or governments. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one such case. Use what you read to write a political column, detailing the issues, why they are important and which side you think will win.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.
2. Free Tuition
The cost of college keeps going up and up all across America. But in the city of Boston, Massachusetts costs are disappearing entirely for some students. A new program announced by the city government will provide tuition-free education at six community colleges for all Boston residents. The program will provide funding for up to three years of tuition and fees and be open to all residents regardless of age, income or immigration status, CNN News reported. The program will also cover up to $250 per semester in related costs such as textbooks and transportation and will pay off debt up to $2,500 for “students with an outstanding balance at a partner college that is preventing a student from re-enrolling” at that college. “Costs should not be a barrier to higher education,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. The cost of college is getting a lot of attention from government leaders at the local, state and national level. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an effort to help students with college costs. Use what you read to prepare a two-minute TV news report informing students and their families about the effort and how they can take advantage of it. Write the text for your report and read it aloud to make sure it does not run longer than two minutes. Choose images from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your report.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.
3. New World Role
When Jacinda Ardern was elected prime minister of New Zealand at the age of 37, she was the South Pacific nation’s youngest prime minister in more than 150 years. She also was one of the youngest female leaders in the world and became just the second to have a baby while in office. In January Ardern announced she would step down as prime minister, declaring she did not “have enough in the tank” to run for re-election. This month she announced that while she is leaving office, but she is not leaving public life. She is about to begin new global roles protecting the environment and combating extremism online. Ardern, who is now 42, will join the board of trustees of the Earthshot Prize, a charity founded by Britain’s Prince William to support inventors with ideas that could address environmental problems. She also has been appointed as a special envoy to the Christchurch Call — a global initiative urging tech companies and governments to combat the spread of extremism on social media. People often change careers, and not just in politics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a person who has changed or is changing their career. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling why the person is changing careers, what benefits the new career will provide and how the person’s experience could be a model for others.
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.
4. ‘Answer to Prayers’
The Great Salt Lake in the U.S. state of Utah is the largest saltwater lake in the Earth’s Western Hemisphere. Just three months ago, it was on life support, due to years of heat and drought in the American West. Now, thanks to an unexpectedly wet and snowy winter, the lake has gotten a new lease on life. Enormous amounts of snow and rain this winter — including more than 800 inches of snow in nearby mountains (nearly 67 feet!) — has caused the lake to rise three feet in a little more than five months, the Washington Post reports. This season’s snowpack promises to push water levels even higher in the coming weeks as warmer temperatures melt the snow and runoff enters the lake. While officials caution the water crisis is not over, “This year’s snowpack is nothing short of miraculous,” one environmental expert said. “After so many years of drought, this definitely feels like an answer to prayers.” Global warming has brought water shortages to many areas of the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how shortages have affected two areas outside the United States. Use what you read to create a chart or graphic organizer comparing the effects on the two areas, detailing the similarities and differences.
Common Core State Standards: Organizing data using lists, concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
5. That’s Some Wine
Doctors and nurses often tell people it pays not to drink because even small amounts of alcohol can lead to health problems. A man in the state of California has discovered not drinking can pay off in another way — a REALLY big way. Meet Mark Paulson and his very expensive bottle of red wine. Paulson, who is 72, bought the wine nearly 50 years ago but never drank it. It came from the European nation of France, and it came in a huge “double magnum” bottle. It had a very fancy name — Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche — and was made in one of the best wine regions of the world. The fanciness of the wine, plus the size of its bottle, made Paulson reluctant to crack it open, so it sat in his basement in the City of San Francisco year after year, the Washington Post reported. Then last year, a client of his son’s asked about the special bottle and Paulson got curious how much it would be worth. He was in for a shock. Later this month, his giant bottle of La Tâche is expected to sell at an auction for as much as $80,000 — and it could go even higher due to demand for wines from that region. People are often surprised at the value of things they own, particularly if they are old or unusual. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about someone discovering that a possession has great value. (The website of the “Antiques Roadshow” TV show is a good place to start at www.antiquesroadshow.com.) Use what you read to write a paragraph detailing how the person reacted and what they will do with the item now that they know it is valuable. Write a second paragraph telling how you might react.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.