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

June 11-22, 2018

Language Arts

1. Father's Day is celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June so the date changes each year. This year it’s June 17th. What words would your students use to describe a good dad? Can your students find an example of a good father in today’s news? If they could meet that man, what would they say to him about what makes him a good parent?
Common Core Standard: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences

2. In one of his most well known speeches on June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.” He gave this speech when accepting the nomination for Senator from Illinois. He lost that election, but the speech lives on. That famous phrase about the divided house comes from the Bible that says, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." So, Lincoln may not have been original but the speech proved very powerful. If your students were going to write a speech about a current event, what famous phrase can they think of that they would weave into a speech? Also, using that Bible quote as a springboard, Lincoln demonstrated the correct method for using someone else's words without plagiarizing. He took the words and restated them in his own way, rather than just copying. It may be good practice for your students to choose two paragraphs from a news story and restate them sufficiently so they could use the information but would not be plagiarizing the work.
Common Core Standard: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text

3. Baseball great Lou Gehrig’s birthday is June 19. Your students may never have heard of him but they are sure to find his story compelling and inspiring. Share these facts. Gehrig attended Columbia University on a football scholarship but ultimately ended up playing professional baseball for the New York Yankees, beginning in 1925. During his career he broke several records and became an American hero for his athletic prowess. He and Babe Ruth were constantly making news and they both became legendary. But, they had a falling out and didn’t speak for many years. During the 1939 season, Gehrig began to have trouble playing the game he loved. He was diagnosed with a very rare disease, ALS, now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. His prognosis was not good, as his body would continue to lose motor ability. He would never play ball again and the disease would kill him within a few years. So, his team decided to declare a “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” on July 4, 1939. More than 62,000 fans sat in rapt attention in the stands as Gehrig gave a short speech. In it, he said that he considered himself “the luckiest man on Earth.” He said that the opportunity to play the game he loved with the teammates he revered made his life a blessing. Thousands in the stands were moved to tears and even Babe Ruth stepped out on the field to hug his former teammate and rival. It is still considered to be one of the most poignant moments in sports history.

Invite your students to click on this link to watch a two-minute video of the speech.

Gehrig’s story helped people put their own problems and lives in perspective. Ask your students to talk about how learning a story like this one might inspire them to keep going when times get tough. Ask, “Does it help you cope with your problems when you read about how others do so?” Invite your students to find someone in the news whom they think could be helped by an inspirational story like Gehrig’s. Have them write that person a letter with encouraging words.

Finally, as a follow-up, Gehrig closed his speech by saying, “So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.” What do your students think he meant? Who in today’s news would they guess have the most to live for?
Common Core Standard: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences

4. You can help students analyze literature by leading them through a discussion of what makes a good comic strip. Begin by having the class look at the strips and ask which ones they like to read. Then discuss the key elements. Begin with the dialogue. What do the words tell the reader about the scene? What kinds of backgrounds make good scenes? Why? What props are the characters interacting with? How are the scenes in the panels connected to each other? Invite students to create their own strips. A good follow up to this is to have them create comic strips about books they’ve read. It’s a terrific alternative to book reports.

If your students enjoy comic books, they may want to learn more about their history. They can read about them at this link.
Common Core Standard: utilizing diverse forms of media

5. Ask your students what they know about the types of writing found in a newspaper. Write on the board what they share. Then ask them to choose one newspaper article – a news story about a current event -- to examine in detail. Explain that most news stories are written in the expository style. This is also the style in which students throughout high school and college will usually have to write. In order to understand the style better, have them answer these questions about the writing and the writing style in the news article they chose.
How many paragraphs? How many sentences, on average, in each paragraph? Who is the story about and what is one thing you learned about that person? What is the story about and what is one thing you learned about the event?
Common Core Standard: analyze development of text

If students were going to write a short fictional story based on the news story they chose, how would it be different? Challenge them to write that story as a follow up to this activity. If they’d like to use a story map to plan their story, they can click here.
Common Core Standard: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience

1. Students can determine the ratio of sales jobs to factory jobs in the Classified ads. Which would be easier to get? Which do they think pay more? During an economic period like the one we’re in, which field do they think is more lucrative?
Common Core Standard: using authentic data, making inferences

2. Send students to the weather information in the news. They can select 10 cities listed, write the high temperatures for each and then find the mean, median and mode.
Common Core Standard: using authentic data

3. One result of the recent economy is that many people have lost their homes to foreclosure. Explain to students that when a homeowner is unable to pay the mortgage, the bank or mortgage lender may take back ownership of the home. Then, banks own the homes and have to resell them, often at a very low price. Have students look carefully at the Homes for Sale ads and scan for the word “foreclosure.” If they find a home advertised as a foreclosure, have them compare and contrast its price and features to a similar home not shown as a foreclosure. What conclusions can they draw?
Common Core Standard: using authentic data

Science Literacy
1. Explain to students that Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space on June 16, 1963. Invite them to imagine that they have just arrived on Earth from space. If they looked only at today’s news, what would they think of Earthlings? They should write a report back to their space commander telling what life on Earth is like.
Common Core Standard: writing narratives

2. Begin by asking students what the know about Galileo. Allow time for answers to be shared. Then explain that on June 22, 1633, the brilliant scientist was sentenced by the Vatican as he was convicted of teaching about Copernicus who believed that the Sun and not the Earth was the center of the universe. As the Vatican believed that the Bible contradicted that theory, he was committing a crime against the Catholic Church with these beliefs. The trial represented a debate between church officials and scientists. That debate still rages today. Invite students to identify science stories in the news that could be opposed to religious beliefs. They should write about the stories they chose.
Common Core Standard: drawing conclusions from text

3. Tell students that science fiction is a genre in which stories are made up but are woven with facts of real science. They may involve some truth in the world of science theory. Which article in today’s news do your students think lends itself to being a work of science fiction? Why? Allow time for a discussion. Award-winning writer Ray Bradbury is best known for his work in fantasy, science fiction and horror. His most famous work was the novel Fahrenheit 451, originally written as a short story. He said he read and wrote throughout his childhood. He especially loved the work of Edgar Allen Poe. Once he started writing, he wrote virtually every day. He never attended college, but he spent hours in libraries and was an avid reader. He said science fiction is "a depiction of the real." As such, which story in today's newspaper would do your students think would make the best plot for a science fiction story based on something real? Have them write an outline of the story they would write.
Common Core Standard: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience

4. The first typewriter was patented on June 23,1868. They had a good run but they are all but out of existence now and most of your students may never have seen one. Do they even know what a typewriter is? Ask for a show of hands of students who have seen a typewriter. Then ask them to skim the news to find an important invention that they think will be the next to disappear. They should write about their choice.

5. Explain to students that this year summer begins June 21 with the summer solstice. The solstice (from the Latin sol, or sun, and sistere, to stand still) is when the Earth’s axis tilts either closer to or further from the sun. In the summer, it’s closer to the sun.
What signs of summer are evident in today’s news? Of those, which are related to the sun and how? Have your students do a summer solstice search of the news and write about what they found.
Common Core Standard: using diverse media

6. Since summer is just about upon us, it’s a great time to talk about summer safety with your students. Tell them that wearing a seat belt is the best way to keep safe in the car. Why do they think some people don’t buckle up? Have them look through the newspaper to see how display ads are designed. They should then create one encouraging people their age to wear seat belts. Or they can create an ad about the value of wearing a bike helmet.
Common Core Standard: examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly

Social Studies
1. Share this history with students. The first African American Supreme Court Justice was Thurgood Marshall, nominated by President Lyndon Johnson on June 13, 1967. Prior to joining the Court, Marshall had argued and won a civil rights case before the Supreme Court. Current Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan, clerked for Justice Marshall. Marshall said that, as a child, he was so badly behaved in school that he was sent to the principal’s office often. There, he’d sometimes have to memorize a part of the Constitution as punishment. He also said that he memorized the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing equal rights but didn’t see those around him. It piqued his interest in the law. Ask your students to look closely at today’s news and to draw a conclusion about the state of equal rights today.
Common Core Standard: drawing conclusions from text

As follow up, share this quote with students and allow them to react:
Today's Constitution is a realistic document of freedom only because of several corrective amendments. Those amendments speak to a sense of decency and fairness that I and other Blacks cherish.
Thurgood Marshall

4. June 14th is Flag Day. It’s the anniversary of the day in 1777 when the Continental Congress approved the adoption of the first American flag. Later, in 1818, it was decided that the number of stripes would stay constant at 13 but that the stars would equal the number of states. There are several rules of flag “etiquette” that describe how the flag should be treated with respect. Can your students find any graphics in the news that depict or resemble the flag? Is it being treated with respect? Why or why not?Ask students what they know about the U.S. flag and its history. Record their answers on the board.

Some historians believe that Betsy Ross sewed the first flag. It may be interesting for students to virtually visit the Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia, PA to learn more.

The first act about the flag was passed by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. It said, “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

Since then, quite a few other resolutions have resulted in the flag we have today, representing what matters most to Americans. Although the colors of the flag haven’t been stated to have meaning, they were based on the colors of the country’s first official seal and for that there were meanings attributed to the colors. According to the Continental Congress, white signified purity, red stood for hardiness and valor and blue for vigilance, perseverance and justice.

Which story in today’s news do your students think best expresses the ideals of America similar to the way the flag represents us? Allow time for a discussion.

A flag should represent something meaningful about a person or a country. Your students may enjoy creating their own flag after thinking about what is most important in their lives. Click here for a very cool web tool that will enable students to create their own personal flag based on the flags of the world.

2. Before George Washington was the first President, he lead the Continental Army. He started that command on June 15, 1775. His impressive leadership resulted in his becoming the country’s President. Can your students find an impressive leader in today’s news? Who is it and what are that person’s best leadership attributes?
Common Core Standard: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience

3. Explain to students that on June 22, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill into law. It was also known as the Servicemen's Readjustment Act and it was created to help soldiers returning home from World War II. It started a fund to help soldiers get an education and buy a home, as well as a few other benefits. The law has changed over the years but it is still in effect today. Challenge students to imagine that they have just returned home from serving in the military. They should skim the Help Wanted ads to find a job that requires education or training. Have them write letters requesting educational funding aid that could come from the G.I. Bill.
Common Core Standard: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience

4. Tell students that astronaut Sally Ride came back to Earth on June 24, 1983 after spending six days in space. She was the first American woman to fly in space. That’s quite an accomplishment but it wasn’t what Ride originally wanted to do. She dropped out of college to be a professional tennis player! Later, she decided she wasn’t a good enough player and went back to school. Have students skim the Sports section to find an athlete whom they think should quit his/her sport and choose another. Have them write that person a letter explaining why they think he/she should choose another career.
Common Core Standard: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience

5. On June 27, 1880, outlaw Ned Kelly was captured in Australia. His crimes became legendary. Why do your students think that some crimes are glorified in this way? Can they think of any “legendary” criminals? Are there crime stories in today’s news that have the makings of a legend? Have them analyze a crime story and tell whether it is likely to became a piece of history in our culture.
Common Core Standard: drawing conclusions from text

6. On June 25, 1947, Anne Frank's diary was published for the first time.In that diary, Anne Frank, a victim of the Holocaust, wrote, “Despite everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Do you agree or disagree? Can you find support for your position in today’s news?
Common Core Standard: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience

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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