Click here for printer-friendly version

Go to
Lessons for

Grades 1-4
Grades 5-8

Past lessons
for Grades 9-12

Dec. 15, 2014
Dec. 08, 2014
Dec. 01, 2014
Nov. 24, 2014
Nov. 17, 2014
Nov. 10, 2014
Nov. 03, 2014
Oct. 27, 2014
Oct. 20, 2014
Oct. 13, 2014
Oct. 06, 2014
Sep. 29, 2014
Sep. 22, 2014
Sep. 15, 2014
Sep. 08, 2014
Sep. 01, 2014
Aug. 25, 2014
Aug. 18, 2014
Aug. 11, 2014
Aug. 04, 2014
July 28, 2014
July 21, 2014
July 14, 2014
July 07, 2014
June 23, 2014
June 16, 2014
June 09, 2014
June 02, 2014
May 26, 2014
May 19, 2014
May 12, 2014
May 05, 2014
Apr 28, 2014
Apr 21, 2014
Apr 14, 2014
Apr 07, 2014
Mar. 31, 2014
Mar. 24, 2014
Mar. 17, 2014
Mar. 10, 2014

For Grades 9-12 , week of Dec. 15, 2014

1. Artificial Intelligence

Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s pre-eminent scientists, has warned that creation of thinking machines could threaten our very existence. “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” the physicist told the BBC television network in Great Britain. Ironically, he was referring to technology such as that he uses to communicate — a system enabling him to speak, despite the effects of amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Primitive forms of artificial intelligence have already proven very useful, he conceded, but he said if AI matches or surpasses humans, humans might not be able to compete. Artificial intelligence is just one field of technology that is transforming the way people live, learn or communicate in the world. In the newspaper or online, find a story or ad involving a new use of technology. Do added research and write a paragraph or short essay detailing the most important effects of this technology, and what other inventions it could lead to.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

2. Not All Drinkers Are Alcoholics

Most people who drink “too much” are not necessarily alcoholics, a recent study concludes. Agreeing that excessive drinking is a major public health issue (it results in nearly 90,000 deaths each year), the National Survey on Drug Use and Health finds that nine out of 10 drinkers “do not meet the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism.” Many people “tend to equate excessive drinking with alcohol dependence,” the study’s lead author notes, but many “are not addicted to alcohol” (he says everyone defines “excessive” differently). Drinking is a problem even among many non-alcoholics, however, and “we need to change the environment in which people make their drinking decisions,” he says. Health issues like alcohol and drug abuse are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find a story about a health issue that is important to families or teens your age. Read the story closely and write a summary of its key points. Then design a poster to showcase those points.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

3. ‘Philly Jesus’ in Handcuffs

A former drug addict who “found Jesus” and decided to dress like him has been arrested in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for disorderly conduct and failure to disperse. Philadelphians call Michael Grant “Philly Jesus” for his dress and his habit of strolling a main street in the city dragging a giant cross on wheels. Grant has several prior arrests from the years when he was a drug user, but since finding religion he has become a regular in LOVE Park (so named for the famous sculpture in its center). He poses for pictures with tourists and accepts tips for posing. His arrest led to a firestorm of protest in social media, and his lawyer contends the case should be considered a religious freedom issue. Religious freedom is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Review the rights in the First Amendment and find a story in the newspaper or online that involves one of the rights. Write a paragraph explaining how the First Amendment right applies and why it is important.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. At 85, a Book

At age 85, Jules Feiffer has come out with a graphic novel, “Kill My Mother.” It is a take-off on hard-boiled crime fiction and crime movies, and the book is dedicated to (among others) crime writer James M. Cain and moviemakers Billy Wilder, John Huston and Howard Hawks. Feiffer is a celebrated cartoonist, playwright, screenwriter, novelist and illustrator of children’s books, but had never tried a graphic novel. Graphic novels tell stories with paneled illustrations in the manner of comic strips. In the newspaper, find a story about crime or crime fighting. Read it closely and then re-tell it as a series of comic strips. Give your strips an eye catching title that would make students your age want to read your “graphic novel.”

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.

5. Back Home to the Parents

Multigenerational households are increasing, the Pew Foundation reports — not so much because of older people moving in with their children, as it used to be, but the other way around. Because of the weak job market in the United States, the report says, it’s harder for young adults to maintain their own households, so they’re moving back in with their parents. On the other hand, a Pew economist notes, “the nation’s seniors have become more affluent [and] don’t need the safety net as much.” The job market has been tight for teens and young adults. In the stories or Help Wanted ads of the newspaper, find a job that would interest you. Read the requirements for the job and write a letter to the company offering the position to outline your interest and qualifications. Be sure to make sure your letter is in the form of a business letter. Then create a resume for yourself, listing your education and work history. Look up a sample resume online to use as a guide.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.