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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Dec. 05, 2011

1. A Day of Infamy

December 7, 1941, was a day that then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared “will live in infamy.” At 7:55 a.m., 360 Japanese warplanes attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, one of America’s largest Naval bases. The attack drew the United States into World War II, after five of eight battleships, three destroyers and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged and more than 200 aircraft destroyed. A total of 2,400 Americans died that day and 1,200 more were injured. Three aircraft carriers were out at sea that day, and six months later exacted revenge on Japan in the Battle of Midway. Find a newspaper article about the 70th anniversary of the bombing. Write a creative narrative in the first person about being at Pearl Harbor that day, using descriptive language.

Core/National Standard: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.

2. Ulysses

On December 6, 1933, a U.S. federal judge issued a ruling that changed a long-running debate about the novel “Ulysses” by James Joyce. Since its publication in 1922, the book had been banned in England and the United States. But on December 6, 1933 the judge ruled that the book was not obscene, loosening restrictions on distribution of the novel. While the book does contain some unsavory characters and racy descriptions, its use of stream-of-consciousness narrative influenced many modern storytellers. Many critics, in fact, believe it is the most important book of the 20th century. Many other books that were ground-breaking—including “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “Leaves of Grass” and “The Origin of Species”—have been banned at one time by critics and communities. Such actions focus attention on the right to freedom of speech. Find an article in this week's newspapers about censorship or an issue that involves freedom of speech. Discuss the case as a class.

Core/National Standard: Defining and investigating important issues and problems using a variety of resources, including technology, to explore and create texts.

3. Bust That Myth

What do you get when you put five curious science lovers together in one lab with cameras? Answer: The Discovery Channel’s “MythBusters.” People love to see if myths are really true, and Lisa Collier Cool is no different. The Yahoo! Science writer looked at the myths surrounding our brains and set out to bust them. For example, the myth that we only use 10 percent of our brain isn’t true. In fact, doing a variety of tasks during a day uses most areas of the brain. Another myth that people are either left-brained or right-brained isn’t as true as people once believed. The left brain is said to help solve problems while the right brain gets the glory for creativity. Research has shown that the two sides of the brain are actually more intertwined than believed previously. As a class search your newspaper and find an article about an interesting scientific idea or myth. Discuss whether you think the idea or myth could be “busted” through an experiment. Design the experiment.

Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions, building on others’ ideas and expressing students’ own clearly; showing an understanding of scientific concepts and an appreciation of “how we know” what we know in science.

4. Creative Advertising

The words “eat” and “more” are used every day by millions of people. So should someone own the rights to them? According to Chick-fil-A, they can if they are used together as part of a company slogan. The fast food chain holds the trademark for the phrase “eat mor chikin.” It has successfully fought other companies that have wanted to use the idea of “eat more” in their slogans. Now a Vermont artist is saying he won’t let the company stop him from using his “eat more kale” phrase, which he calls, “an expression of the benefits of local agriculture.” He has the slogan on T-shirts and sweatshirts. Chick-fil-A sent him a letter asking him to stop using the slogan, saying it violates the company’s intellectual property. Find a newspaper story about a new product. Come up with your own advertising slogan for it.

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

5. Mind Control

The hypnotist made me do it. That is now the claim of Sirhan Sirhan, the man found guilty of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, just under five years after the assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy. In a recent attempt to get Sirhan released from prison, his attorneys are arguing he was a victim of “mind-control” and never shot RFK. They also are claiming there were two shooters involved, and that Sirhan, now 67, was set up to take the fall. Find a newspaper article about a trial in your community. Follow the case as a class. Then hold a mock trial to see if you come up with the same verdict as the actual jury.

Core/National Standard: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives