1. Better Child Care
Child care is enormously important to working parents, because it allows them to hold full-time jobs, miss fewer workdays and pursue career opportunities or further education. High-quality child care also keeps children safe and healthy and helps them develop skills that will benefit them in school or life. To help people get the child care they need, President Biden has signed an executive order directing federal agencies to find ways to make child care cheaper and more accessible for working parents — and also to assist people providing long-term care for adult or elderly relatives. The order includes more than 50 directives to federal agencies seeking to improve child care and long-term care options for families. The President said the order “doesn’t require any new spending” and will ensure “taxpayers will get the best value for the investments they’ve already made,” CNN News reported. “When people have to leave the labor force or can’t enter it in the first place because of caregiving responsibility, they can’t fully participate in the economy, and that drags down the whole nation’s productivity and growth,” the President said. President Biden’s executive order on child care is an example of an effort by government to help children and families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another effort to help children or families by a local, state or federal agency. Use what you read to write an editorial analyzing the effort, how effective it is and whether the benefits are worth the cost.
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. Safer QB Helmets
Head injuries and concussions are a great worry in the National Football League, because they can lead to long-term health problems, and even death. Concussions are a major factor in football players developing the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The disease can cause memory loss, depression and even violent swings in behavior. To reduce the risk of concussions, a new helmet specifically designed for quarterbacks will be offered next season, the NFL has announced. The headgear has been developed because statistics have shown that “half of all QB concussions occur when their helmets hit the ground” when they are sacked or tackled, CNN News reported. Tests of the new helmet called the VICIS ZERO2 MATRIX have shown that it “performed 7 percent better than the most popular helmet worn by quarterbacks last season.” Safer helmets designed for defensive and offensive linemen were released in 2021. Last season NFL players sustained 149 concussions in games — an 18 percent increase over 2021. Scientists are learning more and more about the effects of concussions and head injuries on football players and other athletes. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the latest findings. Use what you read to create a public service TV ad highlighting some of the most important findings athletes and their families should know about.
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. Goodbye, ‘Phantom’
“The Phantom of the Opera” is the longest running musical in the history of theater on Broadway in New York City. It ran for an astounding 35 years, was seen by 20 million people and earned $1.36-billion in ticket sales since its opening in January of 1988. This month, the “Phantom’s” record run came to an end when the final curtain dropped after nearly 14,000 performances. Fans, celebrities and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber packed the house at the Majestic Theater to say goodbye to a production that had touched the hearts of audiences for more than a generation, the New York Times newspaper reported. Based on a novel by French author Gaston Leroux, “Phantom” tells the tale of a mask-wearing opera lover — the Phantom — who haunts the Paris Opera House and becomes obsessed with a young singer-dancer. The show features some of the most memorable songs in Broadway history, a kidnapping and show-stopping special effects, including a giant chandelier crashing to the stage. The closing was announced after audiences dropped off during the coronavirus epidemic — prompting people to flock to the show during its last weeks. “For a show to go out this triumphantly is almost unheard-of,” said the lead producer, Cameron Mackintosh. “It’s beyond anything I’ve ever dreamed of.” “The Phantom of the Opera” is an example of an enterprise that achieved success over a long period of time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a person, activity or business that has achieved success over a long period. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, detailing how success was achieve for so long, and how the effort could be a model of 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. Anti-Pep Talk
Business leaders who need to give pep talks to employees could learn a lot from the chief of a high-end office furniture company. A lot about what NOT to do. In a video town hall meeting, Andi Owen of the MillerKnoll company criticized employees when they asked whether they would get bonuses — then told them to stop living in “Pity City” for worrying about bonus pay. “Don’t ask about ‘what are we going to do if we don’t get a bonus?’,” Owen said, according to CNN News. “I had an old boss who said to me one time, ‘you can visit Pity City, but you can’t live there.’ So people: Leave Pity City. Let’s get it done.” Owen, who is the chief executive officer of the Michigan-based company, made nearly $5 million in compensation in 2022, including a $1.1-million salary plus various stock options and bonuses, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The median employee income at MillerKnoll was $44,810. Owen later apologized for her remarks. Leaders can be successful with many different approaches. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different leadership approaches and techniques. Use what you read to write a business column offering advice on effective ways to be a leader of a company, a team or other activity. Share and discuss as a class.
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;
responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
5. Musical Poetry
April is National Poetry Month, and this week the nation wraps up celebrations for 2023. Poetry comes in many forms and touches our lives in many ways. If you’ve memorized verses to a rap song, for example, or listened to songs on an iPod, you have experienced poetry. As a class, talk about the different kinds of music you listen to and how the words tell stories or connect with emotions, as poetry does. Then use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories about your favorite musical artist. Pretend you are a music critic for the newspaper. Write a “review” of the songs of your favorite artist telling how they rank as poetry.
Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.