Before the days of backpacks, children on their way to school would use a leather strap to carry their books.
What’s in your school backpack right now? Make a list. Explain why you need each item.
In 1969, American astronauts were the first people to walk on the moon. What might they have thought as they gazed at Earth from the perspective of the moon?
• point of view, outlook, the choice of a context for opinions, beliefs and experiences
Describe something in your own life that changed your perspective about someone or something. Or pick a favorite character and describe a time his or her perspective changed.
Photo courtesy of NASA
In early American schools, students sat on a three-legged stool or in a row on a bench. Then it became popular to have students sit at individual desks, which were bolted to the floor. This made sure children looked at the teacher all day and didn’t get distracted. Today, most teachers encourage students to interact with and learn from each other.
Do you enjoy group learning experiences at school? Which do you like better, learning together or by yourself? Explain your answer.
Oliver loved learning about wild animals. His flights of fancy often involved traveling on a safari through all of Africa for the weekend.
The idiom flight of fancy is an idea or wish that is completely out of touch with reality; an impossibility.
Have you ever had a flight of fancy? What was it?
In the early days of American education, teachers made their own ink for the classroom. They also whittled down flight feathers (feathers of the wing or tail of a bird) of geese to make pens for their students. Children would dip the pen, called a quill, in the ink. They only used the quill and ink for important assignments and to practice their penmanship.
In the days of computers, do you think having good handwriting is still important? Why or why not?
In The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Katniss Everdeen believes that she has more in common with her old friend, Gale, than her co-competitor, Peeta.
The idiom in common means having a shared interest in something.
Describe something you have in common with a friend or family member.
In early schools, students wrote on their own slate with chalk. The slate was small and had a wooden frame, like a mini blackboard. But just like a blackboard, students had to keep erasing their work to make room for more. This was one reason memorization was highly valued.
How good is your memory? Give examples of things you learn at school that you remember easily and things you find more difficult to remember.
“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
What does making a career of humanity mean to you?
Accept answers that show understanding that King meant no matter what profession you choose in life, you should dedicate some time to building a more humane and peaceful world for yourself, all people on the planet, and future generations.
Before the days of calculators, the abacus was a popular way to teach children math skills. An abacus is a wooden frame with several wire rods stretched across it; small wooden disks glide along the rods. Teachers and students would move the disks to different positions as a way to demonstrate counting, addition, and subtraction.
Do you think students should use calculators at school, or solve problems using pencil and paper? Explain your reasoning and try to persuade others of your opinion.
Author Karen Hesse has found inspiration from a radio show, a stray dog in her yard, a cross-country car trip, and her great-aunt Lucy.
• an inspiring influence
• animate; produce
Where do you find inspiration? Use a form of the word inspire in your answer.
On September 5, 1882, the Central Labor Union in New York City began the tradition of a "workingmen's holiday." The holiday spread to other industrial areas and from state to state. Today, we celebrate the federal holiday of Labor Day on the first Monday of September.
Lots of people see Labor Day as a symbol of the end of summer, and take it as a day to relax before autumn begins. What do you do to celebrate Labor Day?
In 1984, the U.S. Space Shuttle Discovery, one of NASA’s reusable spacecraft, made its maiden voyage. The acronym NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
An acronym is an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of a series of words and pronounced as a word. For example, radar is an acronym for radio detection and ranging.
An initialism also uses initials, but is spoken letter by letter, such as LOL for laugh out loud.
With a partner, brainstorm a list of 5 acronyms and 5 initialisms.
Accept all reasonable answers.
Sample acronyms: POTUS (President of the United States), UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), ASAP (As Soon As Possible), RAM (Random Access Memory), SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus)
Sample initialisms: BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato), ATM (automatic teller machine), IQ (intelligence quotient), PBJ (peanut butter and jelly), RIP (rest in peace), BTW (by the way), CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)
A labor union is a group of workers who unite to make sure they receive fair treatment. A large group with one voice is more likely to get attention. Different kinds of workers, such as carpenters and bricklayers, have different unions. The first unions fought for rights such as fair pay, reasonable hours, and safe working conditions.
Students at school sometimes form unions, too. What are some student rights that you think are important? Explain your answers.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806 was the first American team to investigate the territory between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean. Its mission was to find a water route that would expedite travel from the Mississippi to the Pacific. The team did not find such a route. In fact, the route doesn't exist at all. But Lewis and Clark did explore a large part of the American west, mapping out important geographical features (such as the Rockies) and recording over 300 unknown animal and plant species.
• a journey or voyage undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose, such as exploration, scientific research, or war
• make (an action or process) happen sooner or be accomplished more quickly
Write sentences using expedition and expedite.
• an individual's personality
• one of the people in a story, book, play, movie, or other media
• a letter, figure, or other mark used in printing, such as the letters of the alphabet
Use each meaning of character in a sentence.
Grandparents Day takes place on the first Sunday after Labor Day each year. The holiday honors and celebrates grandparents and the elderly. The idea originated with a grandmother named Marian McQuade who successfully campaigned to make it a national holiday. President Jimmy Carter declared the first official Grandparents Day on September 9, 1979.
Do you have grandparents? If so, describe them and identify some activities you enjoy doing with them. If not, write about friends or relatives you have who are older. What do you do with them that you wouldn’t do with friends your own age?
The economy of Los Angeles was once dependent on agriculture.
Modern Los Angeles industry falls mostly into two main groups: motion pictures-recording-advertising and aerospace-electronics-engineering-research.
• a person who is looked after and supported by someone else
• depending on or controlled by something or someone else
Which definition of dependent appears in the sentence above?
Write a sentence using the other definition of dependent.
adjective: depending on
September is National Courtesy Month. There has only been a month honoring politeness and respectful actions for a few years, but the word courtesy has existed for centuries. It first appeared in the 1200s, related to proper behavior at court.
What type of courtesy do you most appreciate from other people? What polite behavior do you need to remember more? Describe how you will celebrate National Courtesy Month this September.
The idiom labor of love means work done for one’s own personal satisfaction, rather than money.
Describe a project, activity, or task that you have truly enjoyed working on.
In September 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia. They met in the City of Brotherly Love because Philadelphia was then the capital of our young nation. In 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act. That designated a site on the Potomac River — now Washington, D.C. — to be the new capital of the United States, beginning in 1800.
Imagine you were present when the Constitution was signed. Write a short journal entry describing the meeting and what happened.
Books can have a powerful impact and influence on a reader. Books can teach you new and surprising things. They can change your understanding of people and historical events, explain nature, or help you decide on a career. How have books influenced you?
• have an effect on someone or something
Think about a book you've read that influenced you in some way. In a short paragraph, name the book, explain what it is about, and describe how it influenced you. Use influence in your paragraph.