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For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 18, 2011

1. The Great Debate

Lately it seems there is no topic that isn't a hot button for the Republican and Tea Party candidates for president. Social Security, education, spending on the U.S. war efforts, job creation, immigration, the economy and more are topics being debated by the candidates as they run for the Republican nomination and the chance to face President Obama in the 2012 election. Heated responses flow freely during debates, as people try to outshine the others. Being able to really listen to the arguments of others and respond appropriately is a key skill in both work and life. As a class, choose five topics and have your own presidential debate. Using the newspaper, search for stories about these topics and use them during the debate as source material and as a resource for important statistics.

Core Standard: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement, and when warranted, qualifying or justifying students' own views and understanding.

2. Fall Preview

Fall begins this week. Based on what you read in the newspapers, write six predictions about what you think will happen before the first day of winter in the following categories: World news, U.S. politics, local news, sports, entertainment/popular culture.

Core Standards: Reading and comprehending informational texts, including history/social studies, science and technical texts; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic.

3. Story After Story

Many news stories are told over days and weeks. For example, recent wildfires in Texas burned for many days. More than 1,000 firefighters worked to extinguish the fires, 1,600 homes burned to the ground and four people were killed. This story actually started back in January when the first wildfires started. Since then, reporters have followed the story about the 3.67 million Texas acres destroyed by fires this year. One day their focus may be on firefighters. The next day may be a feature on a family struggling to survive after losing their home. With the newspaper or Internet, follow a compelling story for a week or two and discuss as a class how it has unfolded. Then brainstorm stories you might try next as a reporter, if you were covering the story.

Core Standard: Determining a central idea of a text and analyzing its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details.

4. That Touched Me

"They are dead. He is dead. We are alive. We are changed." So starts Mitch Albom's column remembering the attacks of September 11 - where we were before, where we were that day and where we are now. Few people in the world can turn a phrase to make you laugh, weep or take action. Albom is one of those people. So is Rick Reilly. In 2006, Reilly put out a call for help in his Sports Illustrated column. He asked readers to help him buy mosquito nets so children in Africa wouldn't die from malaria. He told his readers that malaria kills 3,000 children in Africa every day. The organization has now raised more than $35 million. Find a writer in your newspaper that touches your emotions. Write a brief essay on how the writer's choice of wording affects how you felt.

Core Standard: Determining an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the work.

5. The Time Machine Times

H.G. Wells was born on September 21, in 1866. A visionary writer, he was the author of "The War of the Worlds," "The Invisible Man" and "The Time Machine." In "The Time Machine," a man builds a time machine and visits the far future, only to be shocked at what he finds. Imagine that your class is a group of time-traveling journalists. Make a list of features found in today's newspaper (articles about politics, business notes, event listings, sports recaps, advertisements, letters to the editors, comics, etc.). As a class, create a newspaper for the year 3011, and predict what each of these features would be like. Get creative!

Core Standard: Gathering relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advance searches effectively; assessing the usefulness of each source in answering the research question.