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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 21, 2011

1. Next Thanksgiving

Many people take time on Thanksgiving to reflect on the things that have happened in the past year, and to take note of things for which they are thankful. Use the newspaper to make a list of five things you would be thankful to see happen in the world in the next year. Be optimistic, but be realistic as well. Discuss choices as a class.

Core/National Standard: Building on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others; using reading for multiple purposes, such as enjoyment, learning procedures, completing technical tasks, making workplace decisions, evaluating and analyzing information and pursuing in-depth studies.

2. Draw Your Own Opinion

Some people use words to express their opinions, while others use pictures. A political cartoonist is the rare creature who can combine both pictures and words to express funny and sometimes scathing opinions. As the race for president heats up, political cartoonists have lots to work with to portray the candidates. For example, during a recent debate, Texas Governor Rick Perry couldn’t remember the names of federal government departments he eliminate. Herman Cain later had trouble discussing military efforts in Libya. Read the newspaper for political stories about the presidential race. Then draw an editorial cartoon about one or more of the candidates.

Core/National Standard: Using drawings or other visual displays when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts and feelings; determining an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective.

3. Get Me Out of Here!

As the holidays approach, people around the world will be getting on airplanes to fly home to celebrate with family. Weather can be a huge problem when it comes to air travel. Storms regularly close airports for periods of time during the winter or flights can be delayed. Because of this, the government has put a policy in place that states people cannot be left on an airplane on the tarmac of an airport for more than three hours or the airline will be fined. American Eagle Airlines had 15 flights with a total of 600 passengers stuck on the tarmac for 45 minutes past that limit, and was fined $900,000. Jet Blue recently had a plane full of 100 passengers stuck on a tarmac for 7 hours without food, water or working bathrooms and could be fined up to $27,500 per passenger. Find a newspaper article about traveling during the winter and holidays. Discuss as a class what a passenger’s bill of rights should look like. Then draft one as a class.

Core/National Standard: Integrating and evaluating multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media in order to address a question or solve a problem.

4. Inherently Kind

Being a kind person may go beyond having a “good heart.” It may be based on a person’s genetic makeup. According to an Agence France-Presse story, scientists have discovered that “people with a certain gene trait are known to be more kind and caring than people without it, and strangers can quickly tell the difference.” This difference is linked to the body’s receptor gene containing oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding, empathy and other social behaviors. In a study, scientists had people tell a partner about a time of suffering in their lives and observers watched the listener to see how they responded. Based on each listener’s response, the scientists could predict which type of gene he or she carried. Search your newspaper for stories about interesting research being done. Write a summary of one example of research and its potential impact on individuals and society.

Core/National Standard: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately.

5. Until Proven Guilty

America lost a national hero on November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed as he rode in a convertible through the streets of Dallas, Texas. As the car passed the Texas School Book Depository, three shots rang out, fatally killing the president and seriously wounding the Texas governor. The alleged shooter was a man by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald. He would never face a jury of his peers, however, as he was shot and killed by a nightclub owner named Jack Ruby, who was charged with first-degree murder. Search your newspaper for an article about a trial going on in your community. Follow the trial and write an opinion piece evaluating the accused’s guilt or innocence. Support your conclusions with information from the article.

Core/National Standard: Writing arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.