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Gail S Hennessey's picture
Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
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Using the News in the Classroom: End of Year Activity

Still in School? Vacation a couple of weeks away? Use the news and have students select one of the following news stories and write a short paragraph stating their opinions on the topic.

In addition to passing your classes, a new law passed in the Philippines will require ALL students to show that they planted 10 trees to graduate! With about 18 million students calling the Philippines home, that could mean that 175 million trees will be planted each year! It is estimated the requirement would mean about 525 billion trees could be grown in just one generation.The tree graduation requirement hasn’t begun as of yet but trees indigenous(native) to the Philippines will be the first priority. Areas for planting will include abandoned mining sites, forest and urban areas of the Philippines. In addition to helping to beautify the Philippines, scientists hope the tree requirement will cut down on CO2 levels and hopefully help lessen the growing global climate crisis.

1. What do you know about the Philippines. Write 3 facts.
2. Write TWO ways trees are helpful to the environment.
3. Write a paragraph stating your opinion on such a requirement to graduate.
4. Check out this link and write 3 facts learned about the Philippines:
Have you visited a national park or historical site? Senators Gary Peters and Ted Cruz have introduced a bill to create a protected site, on the moon! Called the “One Small Step to Protect Human Heritage in Space Act”, it would be the first ever protected site somewhere other than on Earth. The area to be protected would be the Apollo 11 landing site where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, became the first humans to walk on the moon. Photograph from
1. Write a paragraph and explain what do you think of this idea.
2. Write 3 facts you know about the moon.
3. Can you name two National Parks in the USA?
4. Check out this link and write 3 facts learned about the moon:
Did you know that of the 5000 statues nationwide, only 400 are of women? If you walk through Central Park, in New York City, you will come upon 22 statues of famous MEN. Not one statue is of a woman, except for statues of fictitious Mother Goose and Alice in Wonderland. A group of woman want to have a woman statue added to Central Park… a REAL woman who made a contribution in history. Specifically, TWO women will be added for the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote(2020). Statues of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are to be added. Additionally, at Statuary Hall, at the U.S. Capital, there are two statues for each state on display. Only nine of the one-hundred statues are of women. The state of Kansas is changing one of their statues to honor Amelia Earhart.  Photograph from 
1. Can you name one facts about Susan B. Anthony? 
2. Check to see if your state has a woman represented in Statuary Hall. If, not, is there a woman that you think could be suggested to be represented?
3. Things don’t change unless someone decides a change is needed. What might you like to change?
Twelve men have walked on the moon. By 2024, this may change when NASA launches a new mission, Artemis(named for the ancient Greek goddess of the moon). It will be this mission when a woman will leave her footprint on the surface of the moon. The previous moon mission, called Apollo(the twin of Artemis) ended in 1972. Now, after giving support for this mission, the Trump Administration has changed its mind and says that it is a waste of money. “For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago,” Trump wrote. “They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”
  1. Do you think going back to the moon is a waste of money? 
  2. Do you think we should try and land humans on the planet Mars?   Write a paragraph explaining your thoughts.                                               Note: Despite the tweet, the moon is NOT part of Mars.
Illustration from
After 76 days, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the astronauts for the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon, made history on July 20, 1969. After the Columbia reached the moon’s orbit, Armstrong and Aldrin went into a smaller module, the Eagle. They began a descent onto the surface of the moon and successfully landed on the moon where both men would become the first humans to actually walk on the moon. The date was July 21, 1969! Just think, from the first powered flight in 1903, it was just 66 years before we had humans walk on the moon!
In 2019, it will be the 50th anniversary of this remarkable achievement! 
Check out this Reader’s Theater Script. Part of my Ms. Bie Ografee Talk Show Series, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins are guests of Ms. Bie Ografee and her studio audience ask the guests questions about their historic trip to the moon. In addition to the play, with 10 audience questioners, there are Did You Know Fun Facts, comprehension questions, a teacher page with extension activities and the key to the comprehension questions.
Illustration from