Engage students with this week's news, events, and anniversaries.

Each week we offer a civics lesson to help students understand how our government works: Here's this week's lesson:

It’s important to know the names of your Congressional representatives. Find the name of one of your Senators in the news. Can you find your governor’s name? Why are they in the news?

Oct. 16-20, 2017

Language Arts

1. Reader’s Theater is a great way to encourage students to read fluently. You can use a newspaper article for practice. Look for an interesting article. Assign parts to students based on the article. If there are quotations, assign certain students to read those “parts.” Assign narrators to read the remaining text of each paragraph. Once parts are assigned, let the reading begin. This lesson adapts well to SmartBoard use. You can enlarge the text so that everyone can see. Once the reading is finished, discuss the content of the story with the class. You may want to allow time for students to reread the story silently.
Common Core Standard: Read on-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings

2. News reporters write for a living. Your students can practice their writing skills by imagining themselves as reporters. First, have them choose an interesting news story and read it carefully. Ask them to imagine five questions the reporter might have asked in interviewing for that story. Then, students can go online to this interactive game that walks them through the steps of reporting a news story.
Common Core Standard: Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly

3. Visit this site where children's authors have been interviewed. Click on the video for Daniel Kirk. Have students pay special attention to the first question about how he finds characters. Then send students into the newspaper searching for someone in an article who would make a good character for a story, based on how he or she reacted to the events in the news story. Students should write a character sketch about that person. And, if your students ever need a good prompt for writing, they can use the ones offered at this site.
Common Core Standard: produce clear and coherent writing

4. The National Council of Teachers of English celebrate National Writing Day on October 20. Explain to students that because people are writing more than ever, in text messages, postings, emails, and yes, even with pen and paper, communication counts in a huge way. Since writing is so important, this day has been declared to raise awareness of this skill and its value in everyone’s life. Invite your students to participate in the celebration by completing their choice of these writing assignments based on the newspaper.

Write a journal entry reacting to a story you read in today’s news.
Write a found poem based on words you took from a news story.
Write an editorial based on an issue in the news.
Common Core Standard: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience

1. It may be interesting for students to consider how math is relevant in the real world. Invite them to review the Help Wanted ads and to identify the jobs that require math skills. Have them write about what their research reveals. What percentage of the total jobs listed require math?
Common Core Standard: Find a percent of a quantity

2. There is lots of math found in any day’s newspaper. Invite students to go on this scavenger hunt. They should write about each of these as they find it:

A decimal number
A three-digit number
Any number
A prime number

After they find each one, they should use the numbers in this way. First multiply the decimal by the three-digit number. Divide the product by the next number they found. Then have them subtract the prime number.
Common Core Standard: Find whole-number quotients of whole numbers with up to four-digit dividends and two-digit divisors, using strategies based on place value, the properties of operations, and/or the relationship between multiplication and division. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.

Science Literacy

1. Red Ribbon Week is Oct. 23-31. It is a week dedicated to teaching kids about substance abuse and how to stay safe. Have students skim the news to see if there are any stories related to drugs or alcohol. Allow time for a discussion about how the substance affected the events. Then ask students to brainstorm “Ten Ways to Say No.” Ask them to imagine that they are in a situation where drugs or alcohol is offered. What strategies can they use to muster the strength to resist? For more information about Red Ribbon Week, click here.

Invite students to choose some words and phrases from the news story they used for this assignment and to add others to make an online poster encouraging people to stay away from drugs.

Common Core Standard: Use technology to produce writing

2. Explain to students that people in Denmark pay a bit more money if they choose to eat some fattening foods. The country instituted a “fat tax” based on the amount of saturated fat used in preparing the food. For example, a bag of chips might cost about 12 cents more while a hamburger goes up about 40 cents. This “fat tax” may have been the first of its kind in the world. Ask students to use the archive tool of the e-edition to search “fat tax” to see if they can find any articles about this. Then allow time for a discussion about whether students think a government should tax people in order to encourage them to eat healthier foods. You may also want to discuss the recent tax instituted in Philadelphia where people are paying a lot more for cigarettes with the extra tax money going to be used in schools. Do your students think this is a good idea?
Common Core Standard: evaluate conclusions in science text

Social Studies

1. Ask students this question, “What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American? Invite them to find examples of that civic value in today's newspaper..
Common Core Standard: Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from or supports the argument

2. On October 20, 1957, journalist Walter Cronkite began hosting a weekly TV show, “The 20th Century.” He reported on major events that shaped history. Later the show’s title was changed to “The 21st Century.” Challenge students to imagine that they are producing a new show, “The 22nd Century.” It looks at today’s events that will shape tomorrow. Which story in today’s news would your students include? Allow time for a debate about the one story in today’s news that will have the greatest impact on history. You may want them to create an argument map. An argument map is a visual representation of the structure of a formal debate or argument. Creating one helps clarify thinking and organize details.
Common Core Standard: delineate an argument, present information clearly

3. Explain to students that on Oct. 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy looked over reports that indicated that the Soviet Union was building missile bases in Cuba. Because Cuba is so close to the U.S., this action put the U.S. in dangerous proximity to enemy missiles. Kennedy had to decide what to do to protect his country. He could attack the bases in Cuba or do something less aggressive. He chose to order a naval blockade of Cuba so that Russian ships couldn’t bring any more supplies to Cuba. In response, the leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khruschev ordered his field commanders in Cuba to launch the missiles if the U.S. attacked. Kennedy ordered Khruschev to remove the missiles from Cuba. A very tense week passed as the world watched the two countries and their leaders to see what happened. The world teetered on the brink of all-out war but at the end of the week, Khruschev ordered the missile removal and the immediate danger passed peacefully. Ask students to use the archive tool of the e-edition to read about recent events concerning Iran’s nuclear program. They can compare the two in writing.
An interesting timeline of the Cuban missile crisis can be found here.
Common Core Standard: present information clearly

4. Not only do women make up half the population, but as a group they also are active voters. Candidates for election know they need large numbers of women to support them if they are going to win the election. With your class, scan the paper for news about issues in upcoming elections. For each one, discuss whether that issue is especially important to women, and why. Do all the girls in the class have the same opinion about the issue, or are they divided? What about the boys? Do you think being a woman candidate helps or hurts her chances to win? Why?

Lessons written by Deborah Drezon Carroll. Carroll taught for ten years in Philadelphia, PA and is the author of two parenting books. She also coordinated the Newspaper in Education department of the Philadelphia Inquirer for 16 years.
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