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for Grades 9-12

May 18, 2015
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For Grades 9-12 , week of May 18, 2015

1. Do Painkillers Kill Emotions?

Besides dulling physical pain, painkillers may be numbing the emotions of people as well. A new study reported in the journal Psychological Science raised the possibility that acetaminophen found in Tylenol and other drugs “might have broader consequences than previously thought.” Besides relieving pain, the researchers noted, it might be “an all-purpose emotion reliever.” In the study, participants who were given an acetaminophen product showed less sensitivity to both sorrowful and joyful photos than those given an inactive placebo pill. Stories about the side-effects of drugs or medications are important to readers because medications are used by a great number of people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about side-effects of medications, or studies about the side-effects of medicines. Write a paragraph explaining the side-effects and why it is important for people to understand them.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it;

2. McDonald’s Turnaround

In an effort to become “a modern, progressive burger company,” McDonald’s says it will restructure operations, slash costs and spruce up its menu. The world’s biggest burger chain is suffering its bleakest sales slump in years amid increased competition, global scandals and America’s changing tastes that now stress more fresh and healthy food choices. Its chief executive — announcing the turnaround plan — conceded McDonald’s “recent performance has been poor,” observing “no business or brand has a divine right to succeed.” To remain successful, businesses often have to make changes to the products they offer or the way they operate. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about a business making changes. Write a paragraph summarizing what changes are being made, why they are being made and how soon the effect of changes will be felt.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; closely reading what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Treadmills Can Be Dangerous

Exercise is good for your health, medical experts agree, but it sometimes can be dangerous. Silicon Valley executive David Goldberg died at age 47 earlier this month after falling on a treadmill and suffering a head injury. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that almost 460,000 Americans were sent to hospital in 2012 for injuries sustained with exercise equipment — more than 30,000 of them hospitalized or killed in the accidents. Treadmill injuries alone accounted for about 19,000 accidents and emergency visits in 2009 — about 6,000 involving children. Safety precautions urged by experts include using the safety clip that switches off the machine in the event of a fall, making sure the area around equipment is clear, and avoiding distractions from TV, reading or smart phones. Product safety is important to consumers — and not just those using exercise equipment. In the newspaper, find a product you or your family uses. Study the product’s features and research them online. Then design a newspaper product-safety ad, outlining key safety issues that consumers should know about for this product.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; closely reading what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. Body Cameras for Cops

The U.S. Justice Department is speeding up delivery of $20 million in grants to local police departments to help buy body cameras for officers. Demand for the cameras, which clip on to uniforms and record police interactions with the public, has risen because of recent deadly altercations between police and unarmed black men in American cities. The grants represent the first step in a three-year, $75 million body camera funding program requested by President Obama for congressional approval. These funds will match local funds for departments that already have cameras in use. High cost is one factor impeding use of body cameras; another is civil libertarians’ concern for the privacy of those being recorded. As a class, discuss the use of body cameras by police and whether you think it is a good idea. Then use the newspaper and Internet to read more discussion of police body cameras. Use points from your discussion and what you read to write a short editorial arguing for or against body cameras for police in your community.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; closely reading what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. Too Thin to Model?

In the European nation of France, the National Assembly has passed a law prohibiting modeling agencies from hiring dangerously thin models and also requiring that retouched photos of models be clearly labeled. “A person should not be required to starve herself in order to work,” one of the lawmakers, a neurologist, declared. “Malnutrition is a major health issue.” The measures are designed to protect models from being pushed into losing unhealthy amounts of weight and to reduce the number of images published of extremely thin women — which are said to encourage young girls to become anorexic. Once the bill is given final approval, a model would need to have a doctor’s certification that her weight is acceptable. Anexoria is an eating disorder that affects thousands of young people, especially girls and young women. In the newspaper or online, find and read about another health risk faced by teens. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a TV commercial that would educate teens about the risks. Write an outline for your commercial, including what images you would use. For fun, pick actors or actresses to star or provide voice-overs for your commercial. Explain your actor picks to the class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.