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for Grades 9-12

Jan. 23, 2017
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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 23, 2017

1. The President’s Agenda

Donald Trump took the oath of office last week to become the nation’s 45th president. In his speech at his inauguration ceremonies, the new president outlined things he would like to achieve in the next four years. Many of his goals are quite different from those of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about goals President Trump has outlined for the nation. Use what you read to write a speech of your own, outlining your views on one or more of President Trump’s goals. Deliver your speech to the class. Then discuss which of your class’s speeches were most effective, and techniques people use to make speeches effective.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. IRS Seeks Younger Employees

The IRS may be looking for you — not because of your tax return (or lack of it), but as a potential employee. More than half of the Internal Revenue Service’s employees are over 50 years old, less than 3 percent are under 30 and only 650 of its 37,000 employees are under 25. The IRS commissioner concedes it needs to find “new talent,” particularly when considering that half the under-30 workers are only working part time. The IRS says it offers a good work-life balance (most jobs are 9-to-5), plenty of room for advancement and a chance to rise quickly. In addition, 40 percent of its employees eligible to retire in four years, though retirement benefits are greater for longer service. When businesses, government or other organizations advertise for new employees, they often highlight “selling points” that make the jobs attractive. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a job that you would like to have some day. Use what you read to create a print or TV ad showcasing the “selling points” you think make the job attractive.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; 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.

3. ISIS Rebranding Food Aid

In the Middle East, supporters of the militant Islamic State (ISIS) appear to be commandeering food relief supplies from United Nations agencies, rebranding them and distributing them under the ISIS logo. Images on jihadist websites and social media show women and children in the Mideast nation of Syria receiving World Food Program boxes covered over with labels bearing the Islamic State insignia. Expressing “extreme concern,” a U.N. official condemned “this manipulation of desperately needed food aid” in Syria. The ongoing war between ISIS and the Syrian government has caused great pain and hardship in the Mideast nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the conflict. Use what you read to write a summary of latest developments, why they are significant and what you think will happen next.

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. Drug Cannon

Drug smugglers try all kinds of ways to sneak illegal drugs into the United States from Mexico. They have dug tunnels, used airplanes and even tried submarines to deliver drugs under water. Now they have tried something new. Mexican authorities recently discovered a van that had a makeshift cannon installed on it, apparently to launch packages over the border into the United States. Parked in an area of Sonora across from the U.S. state of Arizona, the van was equipped with a 10-foot air cannon that could launch marijuana packages up to 60 pounds with an air compressor. In the last year there has been great debate over how to secure the border between Mexico and the United States to prevent the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants into the U.S. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the latest proposals to increase border security. Use what you read to write a short editorial supporting, opposing or critiquing one proposal.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Fracking Linked to Illnesses

Living near a natural gas hydraulic fracturing (fracking) site has been linked to increased rates of sinus problems, migraine headaches and fatigue. A researcher cites “growing evidence that this industry is associated with impacts on health that are biologically plausible.” An observational study reported in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives ranked 7,785 randomly selected participants according to how close they lived to fracking sites. The 25 percent of participants living closest to sites were found to be 49 percent more likely to have sinusitis and fatigue, 95 percent more likely to have migraines and fatigue and 84 percent more likely to have all three symptoms. Health and medicine studies often are in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a health or medicine study. Use what you read to design a graph, chart or illustration to illustrate the most important things families should know. Share your illustration with the class and explain its design and presentation.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.