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

Aug. 22 – Sept. 2, 2016
Language Arts
1. Tell students that August 22 is known as Be An Angel Day. Can they find a person in today’s news who is doing something good for someone else? Have them send that person a letter of thanks.
Common Core Standard: focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing

2. Do your students enjoy watching plays? Have they ever seen one? They might be interested in knowing that the first play was presented in the North American colonies on August 27, 1655 in Acomac, Virginia. The actors were actually arrested for performing because public performances were against the law in most of the colonies. Since no such law exists in your class, invite students to act out some of the comic strips by reading the dialogue aloud. This is a great way to encourage reading with expression. And, since so many people are afraid to speak in public (It’s the #1 fear of Americans!), this is a terrific way to help students allay that fear. And, since it's the beginning of the school year this is a great way for students to get to know each other.
Common Core Standard: speak clearly at an understandable pace

3. Share this with your students -- On August 30, 1967, Thurgood Marshall was confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court. He was the first African American on the Court. He has said that he first got interested in the law when he was in school and, as a punishment for bad behavior, he was forced to read the Constitution repeatedly. Challenge students to imagine that they are middle-school teachers who want to set up a similar punishment for a student, using today's newspaper. What story in today's paper would they assign a student to read because the story might inspire greatness? Have them write an essay about the story they chose and explain what might be inspirational about it. What career might it lead someone to pursue?
Common Core Standard: provide logically ordered reasons supported by details

1. Students can experience more “real-life” mathematical adventures playing “Spent” online.
It’s a terrific way for students to understand life on minimum wage. Challenge them to play the game and to find a section of the news that relates to each section of the game: jobs, housing, health insurance, etc.
Common Core Standard: solve real-life mathematical problems

2. Direct students to the page in the news that includes the letters to the editor. Have them compute the percentage that are about local issues and the percentage that are about national issues? Why do they think that is so?
Common Core Standard: compute percentage

3. Just how global is the coverage in your newspaper? Challenge students to find out. Have them work in small groups with each group using a different section of the newspaper. They should count the total number of articles in each and then count those that are about foreign countries? At the end of the session, have each group share their results with the class and draw a conclusion about the coverage of your newspaper.
Common Core Standard: computing percent of distribution

4. Tell students that it must have been an exciting day when the first major league baseball games were televised on August 26, 1939, 70 years ago! In honor of that anniversary, challenge students to use the baseball statistics in the news to write three word problems for a partner to solve. They should exchange problems and check each other’s work to make sure each understands how to work through the problems.
Common Core Standard: apply properties of operations to solve problems
Science Literacy
1. Can your students imagine having a heart that is battery powered? Well, it’s already been done. On August 26, 1994, the first battery operated heart was put into a man to pump blood during an experimental surgery. Called a Ventricular Assist Device, it has been used since then, usually for a short period of time, either for people recovering from a heart attack or during surgery. It doesn’t replace the heart; it just helps it do its job. It is a medical advance that saved lives, though. Can your students find a story in the news about a medical advance that might save lives? Have them summarize what they find. If one isn’t in today’s news, you can have them seek out a story about another very important machine that makes lives easier or better.
Common Core Standard: interpret information

2. There are lots of product advertisements in the news that are designed to appeal to the senses. Can your students find one product for each sense? Have them write about what they find.
Common Core Standard: provide logically ordered reasons supported by details
Social Studies

1. Newswordy is a site that helps students learn about buzzwords in the news. Have students check it out to learn today’s word. Then have them locate a story in the news which relates to that word. It may be interesting to send students in search of buzzwords pertaining to the Clinton vs. Trump race.
Common Core Standard: clarify meaning of unknown words

2. Cartoonist Walt Kelly was born on August 25,1913. He created the Pogo comic strip about the character Pogo Possum until his death in 1973. The strip was wildly popular because it was funny, nonsensical, poetic, and it was often sarcastic. One famous line that came from that strip was “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Environmentalists have used this many times in referring to how humans are polluting the planet. Kelly used his strip to share his political and personal views. Invite your students to read the comic strips carefully. They should choose one that shows a point of view and an opinion and dissect it. How does the cartoonist use the characters to express a thought? What is the opinion being expressed? Students should write about one strip and then invite them to go online to create a comic strip of their own.
Common Core Standard: report on a topic where an opinion is expressed

3. The anniversary of the historic Civil Rights March on Washington takes place on Aug. 28. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "Dream" speech on that day. King said, among other things, that he dreamed of a day when people would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Invite your students to skim today's newspaper for evidence of the current state of race relations in America. They should write essays with letters to Dr. King telling whether they believe his dream has come true. They will need to give reasons to support their opinions based on the news they found.
Common Core Standard: report on a topic where an opinion is expressed

Also on August 28, but in 1955, Emmett Till was murdered. The 14-year-old African American was beaten to death by a group of white men who were angry because they thought he was flirting with a white woman. Two of the men were acquitted of any wrongdoing. The murder and the acquittal brought much attention to the ongoing problems that African Americans were having and spurred many people to take acton to work for civil rights for all. Can your students find a story in today’s news that they think could stir people to action?
Common Core Standard: Describe the connection between a series of historical events that are relevant today

4. This lesson enables students to learn how to refine their Internet searches in order to refine their results. At this site, students can enter a search term and then modify it by adding or subtracting terms. Each time they change the search, they can note the difference in the number of results found. Have each student choose a topic from a story in today’s news and modify it by adding or subtracting words from the news story to their search. For example, if they choose a story about the economy, they could enter economy as a search term and chose words from the story, i.e. jobs, taxes, debt, Obama, etc. to see how changing their search terms determines the “hits’ they get.
Common Core Standard: conduct research

5. The presidential election is less than 100 days away and the race is heating up. This might be a good time to assign students to keep an electronic log of election news. Have them find a story about Clinton and Trump in today's news and jot some notes about it in a notebook. Each week they can add to the log.
Common Core Standard: conduct research

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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