In early American schools, students sat on three-legged stools or in rows on benches. 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 safaris 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 or 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 pens, called quills, in the ink. They only used quills 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 slates 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.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
What does making a career of humanity mean to you?
Accept answers that show understanding that Dr. 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 math 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
- to make someone want to do something (often a creative pursuit)
- to cause a feeling or emotion
Where do you find inspiration? Use a form of the word inspire in your answer.
If you attended school in the early 1800s, you probably would not have had a summer vacation. Urban children studied all year long, while children in the country took time off during the spring and fall to work on farms. They studied throughout the summer and winter. In the 1840s, Horace Mann, an American education reformer, decided that all students should adhere to the same school year calendar, and the summer vacation was born!
How do you usually spend your summer vacation? Describe your favorite activities and experiences.
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)
For thousands of years, humans have been playing games that involve kicking a ball. Such games existed during the Ts'in Dynasty in China (225 BC) and the Greek and Roman empires. The modern game of soccer began in England in 1863. It wasn't until the Summer Olympics in London in 1908 that soccer became an Olympic event and an international sporting competition.
What do you think about soccer? Do you play or have friends who play? Do you enjoy playing or watching the game? Explain.
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 River to the Pacific Ocean. 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 Rocky Mountains) and recording over 300 previously 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
• to make (an action or process) happen sooner or be accomplished more quickly
Write sentences using the words expedition and expedite.
The first professional baseball league was formed in 1871. By the early 1900s, many large cities had their own professional teams. The teams were divided into two leagues, the National and the American, which remain the leagues today.
Baseball is often called "America's pastime." Do you agree that baseball is America's favorite sport? Why or why not? Use facts to back up your reasoning.
- 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.
Harvey Bell designed the first yellow smiley face in 1963, when an insurance company hired him to create a face to raise employee morale. He was paid only $45 for his design. The smiley face grew in popularity, and now we see variations of it everywhere.
Faces created with punctuation marks are called emoticons. :) Which emoticons do you know, and when do you use them?
The economy of Los Angeles was once dependent on agriculture. Modern Los Angeles industry falls mostly into two main groups. One consists of motion pictures, music recording, and advertising. The other includes aerospace, electronics, engineering, and research.
• a person who is looked after and supported by someone else
• depending on or controlled by something or someone else
Which form of dependent appears in the sentence above?
Write your own sentence using the other form of the word dependent.
The adjective form of dependent (depending on or controlled by something or someone else) appears in the sentence above.
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 and was 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 for money.
Describe a project, activity, or task that you have truly enjoyed working on.
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?
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 the word influence (or a form of the word) in your paragraph.
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.
- a government right to title for the sole right to make, use, or sell an invention
- a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original literary, artistic, or musical work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time. This symbol © stands for copyright and appears to the left of the year the copyright was registered. The symbol is followed by the name of the copyright holder.
List five things you use every day that were patented. List the copyright date of five different books you use in school.