, week of
Jan. 18, 2021
1. Inauguration Day
Wednesday is Inauguration Day, when President-Elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office in Washington, DC. The day gets its name from the word “inaugurate” (in-OG-yur-ate), which means “to begin,” and on that day Biden will begin his term as the nation’s 46th president. On Inauguration Day, new presidents take an oath of office and outline what they would like to do as the nation’s leader. These goals are outlined in an inauguration speech on the steps of the nation’s domed Capitol building. In the newspaper or online, read stories about President Biden’s inauguration speech. List different goals outlined by the new President. Use what you read to write an editorial or letter to the editor, stating which goal you think is the most important, and why. Discuss with family, friends and classmates.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. Honoring Dr. King
America’s most beloved civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., would have turned 92 on January 15 this year. This week the nation honors his life with the celebration of the Martin Luther King Day national holiday. Dr. King had many achievements in his life, including the “I Have a Dream” speech he delivered in Washington, DC, his belief in non-violent protest and his earning of the Nobel Peace Prize. He was a powerful speaker and writer, and one of his most powerful writings was his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” He wrote it after being imprisoned for non-violent demonstrations against racial discrimination and segregation. In the letter, he wrote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” With family, friends or classmates, read his amazing letter. Then use the newspaper and Internet to find and closely read an article about an issue that troubles you. Write a letter to a national or local leader expressing your concerns about this issue.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
3. Solo Sail
People challenge themselves in many ways. Some climb mountains. Some run marathons. And a sailor from New Orleans, Louisiana will try to set a new world record sailing from New York City to San Francisco, California. Alone on a boat for which he built many of the parts himself. Ryan Finn hopes to set a new record for the perilous trip: 70 days, or about 11 days fewer than the current record for a solo sail on this route. He will be sailing on an unusual boat: a 36-foot vessel modeled after the traditional, two-hulled Polynesian sailing craft known as a proa. There are many risks to sailing alone, but Finn’s trip has a big one. To reach San Francisco, he will have to sail around Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America. “The wind will be blowing against me,” he told an interviewer. “You end up with big waves and big wind. Everything about it is saying, ‘Don’t come here. Go the other way. I’m the wind.’” Challenging yourself to do difficult things is a way to build skills and build character. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone challenging himself/herself. Use what you read to create a short oral report telling how meeting challenges can make someone a better or stronger person. Include examples of challenges you have taken on and how you benefited
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. Ping-Pong Solution
Close elections usually can be decided by having a recount of the votes. But what if the recount doesn’t do the trick? That happened in the city of Dickinson, Texas, when the two candidates for mayor each ended up with 1,010 votes after a recount. So city officials turned to … ping-pong balls! The names of candidates Sean Skipworth and Jennifer Lawrence were written on the balls, placed in a top hat and shaken. Then outgoing Mayor Julie Masters reached in and selected a ball. It had Skipworth’s name on it, and he became Dickinson’s new mayor. Under Texas law tied elections can be resolved by “casting lots” in ways like the ping-pong solution. Drawing a ping-pong ball out of a hat was an unusual way to decide an election. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another situation that needs to be solved or dealt with. Write a letter to those involved offering an unusual way to resolve the situation and why it would be fair.
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.
5. What a Shot!
Talk about sharp-shooting! A game warden in the state of Kansas rescued two male deer whose antlers were locked together in a fight by shooting off one of the antlers with a rifle. Game warden Jeff Clouser made the life-saving shot while the two bucks were still fighting and struggling, UPI News reported. The bucks had been reported by a hunter, but wardens couldn’t get close enough to untangle them safely. Clouser decided to put his rifle skills to use, and made the perfect shot. When he hit the antler of one of the deer, it broke off and the bucks were able to separate and run off. Male deer often fight over territory or for dominance during mating season. Mating season for deer in Kansas runs from September to February. It took great skill for game warden Jeff Clouser to hit the antler of a deer with a rifle shot while the deer was fighting another. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person demonstrating great skill at something. Pretend you want to learn this skill. Write out five questions to ask the person to learn how you could gain or practice this skill.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
Lessons & Classroom Activities
Resources by grade level