1. Attracting Teachers
Teachers play the most important role in the success of students in schools across the nation. But in many states, there is a shortage of qualified teachers, forcing school districts to scramble to fill positions. An investigation this spring by ABC News found that more than three-quarters of U.S. states are experiencing a teacher shortage, because thousands of teachers are leaving their positions and not enough teachers are being trained to teach special education and the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. In the states of Arizona and California, school officials are taking an unusual step to deal with the shortage: They are building low-cost housing to attract teachers to their districts. In Arizona, eight school districts are using federal coronavirus funds to build affordable housing for teachers, and in California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill last year to make it easier for school districts to build teacher housing, CNN News reports. “Districts are fighting over applicants, and we sometimes don’t get any …” one Arizona school superintendent said. “We’re hoping that these … units will help attract and retain teachers that we normally wouldn’t get.” Teachers inspire students and help them succeed in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about teachers who are doing this. Use what you read to write a personal column analyzing the most important ways teachers inspire students — and telling about teachers who have inspired you.
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.
2. Royal Slavery Ties
In the United States and other nations, the Black Lives Matter movement has brought new attention to racial injustice, systemic racism and the involvement of institutions and governments with the practice of slavery in the past. In the European nation of Great Britain, the royal family headed by King Charles III is even getting into the act. King Charles has recently shown support for investigating the ties of the royal family (or monarchy) to the trans-Atlantic slave trade from the 1500s through the 1800s, the Guardian newspaper reported. The King’s support came after the Guardian published a previously unseen document showing that an ancestor of King Charles — King William III — owned shares in the slave-trading Royal African Company that he had acquired from a notorious slave-trader. The royal family did not comment on the document but said it supported a research project co-sponsored by the Historic Royal Palaces organization to investigate the monarchy’s involvement in the slave trade. King Charles’s support for slavery research is believed to be the first time the royal family has publicly backed such investigation. Before he was King, Charles III called slavery an “appalling atrocity” when visiting a former slave fort in the African nation of Ghana. Communities, institutions and governments continue to re-examine connections to slavery by previous generations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one such investigation. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing how the community or institution was connected to slavery, and what steps it has taken to address the connection. Share with the class and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
3. Support from a Dad
Teens and young adults often face challenges in life, and when they do, support from a loved one can mean a lot. In the state of Arizona, a woman shopping in a thrift store found that kind of support in a note tucked into a book about facing challenges. The note was found in a copy of “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter,” a novel by Carson McCullers in which a young deaf man struggles because he feels isolated in his community. The note was from a dad to his son. “Believe, Trent — Believe,” the note said, with certain words underlined for emphasis. You are loved and respected! So let’s get going. The ride may be bumpy, but we will get there. When you believe in you as much as I do, you will be there. — Dad.” The note was found by Rose Farmer of Gilbert, Arizona, who was shopping in a local Goodwill store for a costume for her 7-year-old daughter, Fox News reported. It moved her so much that she posted it on Facebook in an attempt to find the author or his son. “I thought ‘Wow, what an amazing, special note,’” Farmer said. “It’s about overcoming any obstacle by believing in yourself — and also having someone believe in you. … Especially since it was his dad. Who knows what Trent was going through at the point that his dad wrote him this note?” Farmer said the note “really spoke to me,” and it also touched the people who saw it on Facebook. One person wrote “My son’s name is Trent, and it's as if this note was written just for him.” Another added, “Oh man, I really wish I had a dad like Trent’s.” Every teen or young adult needs support when faced with challenges. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about someone who got special support at a time he or she needed it. Share stories as a class and discuss the different kinds of support that can help someone your age deal with a challenge or setback. Share information about support you have received in your life, who gave it and why it was important to you.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
4. ‘The Pain Cave’
At a length of 26.2 miles, marathons are among the hardest races for athletes who compete in distance running. Ultra-marathons are even harder. They often challenge runners to cover more than 100 miles in a single race, and sometimes as much as 250. It takes an athlete with skill, stamina and determination to successfully compete in such races. And the world’s best is from the United States. Courtney Dauwalter, a 38-year-old from the state of Minnesota, has dominated the sport over the last few years, often defeating opponents by hours, not minutes, CNN News reports. Unlike most elite athletes, she has found equal success defeating both men and women. Opponents are envious of her unusual physical skills, but they are in awe of her mental determination. It comes from what she calls “The Pain Cave.” “The Pain Cave is the place I go to in my head when it feels like I physically can’t take another step,” Dauwalter explains. “I’m a very visual person, so I’ll picture actually grabbing a chisel and entering this cave in my mind” — to hammer away and extend the cave’s depth. “Often … our bodies are wanting to tap out before we’ve actually reached our limits,” she adds. “If we can just stay strong in our heads and change our mindset … we can usually achieve way more than what we initially thought.” In sports or other fields, mental strength and strong character are important factors for achieving success. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about character traits that help people succeed. Use what you read to create a poster showing different ways that “Strong Character Traits” can help people achieve success. Share with the class.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; 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.
5. Research in Antarctica
Antarctica is one of the seven continents of the world, and one that scientists are watching closely for the effects of global warming. Due to rising temperatures, ice shelves are collapsing, glaciers are retreating, habitats are being disrupted and wildlife are changing their lifestyles. Research stations from more than 40 countries are monitoring these and other changes in Antarctica, and a new one soon will be opening. The Asian nation of China is stepping up efforts to complete its fifth Antarctic research station after a delay of several years. According to a report by the American Center for Strategic and International Studies, China is making “significant progress” on work to complete the new research facility, CNN News reports. When completed, the 53,820-square-foot station is expected to include a scientific research and observation area, an energy facility, a main building, a logistics facility and a wharf for icebreaker ships. The scientific research at the station would focus on physical and biological oceanography, glaciers, marine ecology, zoology, atmospheric and space physics and geology. The United States has three year-round research stations in Antarctica, including one at the geographic South Pole. It also runs the continent’s largest research facility — the McMurdo Station that was established in 1955. Global warming is causing dramatic changes in Antarctica. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about new changes or developments. Use what you read to write a short editorial detailing the latest change and why it is important to scientists who study global warming.
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.