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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 14, 2011

1. Speak Your Mind

"Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs," wrote poet Pearl Strachan. Throughout history, words have had the power to nourish love, incite hatred, promote healing and instill divisiveness. On November 19, 1863, for example, President Abraham Lincoln chose just 272 words to deliver one of the most famous speeches in American history, the Gettysburg Address. At the height of America's Civil War, Lincoln hoped his words would bring the country back together. Not all eloquent speakers use their abilities for good, of course. The Rev. Jim Jones used rhetoric to convince more than 900 people to take their lives on November 18, 1978. Find a newspaper article about something you feel strongly about. Write a carefully crafted speech to present to your class that shows the depth of your feeling on the topic.

Core/National Standard: Presenting information, findings and supporting evidence while conveying a clear and distinct perspective.

2. Oh Deer!

Deer overpopulation has been making news in many different areas. As land is developed by people, deer predators are driven off, but not the deer. Too many deer can throw off an ecosystem's balance because they eat too many saplings and immature plants. Many species rely on mature plants and diversified foliage for housing and food. Now scientists are studying ways to solve the problem, including hunting, enclosures and even darts laced with birth-control. Read about a change in an ecosystem in this week's newspaper. Based on what you read and other resources, make a list of five organisms directly affected by the change and a list of five organisms indirectly affected by the change. Explain how each is affected.

Core/National Standards: Explaining how parts of an ecosystem are related and how they interact; investigating and explaining how communities of living things change over a period of time.

3. Free to Speak

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration didn't pull any punches when it designed new warning labels for cigarettes and other tobacco products. The agency chose full-color pictures of diseased lungs and cancerous mouth lesions to put on the packaging of tobacco products, hoping to deter people from using them. A federal judge, however, blocked the government's new campaign, saying it violated the First Amendment rights of tobacco companies. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said in an Agence France-Presse article last week that the First Amendment not only protects free speech of the individual, but protects consumers against "compelled commercial speech." The new ads were the result of a law signed into effect in 2009 to require larger warning labels on cigarettes. Search the newspaper for an important health topic. Work with a partner to come up with an advertising campaign to promote a way to address that topic.

Core/National Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; including multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.

4. Aliens? Really?

Just in case you were curious, no space aliens are in contact with President Barack Obama. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released a statement saying, "The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race." The statement was released in response to two petitions from the White House's "We the People" website that demanded the Obama administration disclose what it knew about alien life. Find a story in the newspaper about odd happenings or requests. Come up with an idea for an odd news story and write it.

Core/National Standard: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective techniques, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequence

5. Super Athletes

A Scottsdale, Arizona, high school football coach decided to bench his best players for the last regular season game of the year so that they would be at their strongest for the school's first playoff game. The move paid off big-time. During the first playoff game, star D.J. Foster made high school history, running for 508 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns! Find a newspaper story about a high school athlete. Using it as an example, find an athlete at your school to interview. Before conducting the interview, make a list of questions to ask. Questions could include: Why do you like your sport? When did you first play the sport? How do you practice or prepare to be successful at your sport? What is the most important thing to do to be successful in your sport? Use what you learn to write a story about your school athlete.

Core/National Standards: Using a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole and build toward a particular tone; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts and information.