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for Grades 9-12

Apr 20, 2015
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For Grades 9-12 , week of Apr 20, 2015

1. Phoning at the Wheel

Drivers younger than 25 are more than four times as likely as older people to use a cell phone while driving — and 63 percent more likely to be female, researchers report in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports. The percentage of drivers talking on the phone has actually been decreasing, the study notes, but texting is on the increase. Those driving alone are more than four times as likely to be talking on the phone as those carrying passengers, the study observed. In addition, women are twice as likely to be texting as men. Texting and talking on cell phones while driving have become a public safety issue, and many states have passed laws banning the practice. In the newspaper or online, find stories about steps that have been taken to reduce the risks. Use what you read to draw an editorial cartoon giving an opinion about one approach. Discuss cartoons as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

2. Right Poet, Wrong Poem

The U.S. Postal Service is honoring poet Maya Angelou with a new stamp, but the poem on the stamp is by someone else. It’s often been attributed to Angelou, who died last year at age 86, but it actually was written by poet and children’s author Joan Walsh Anglund. The lines quoted — “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song” — were quoted often by Angelou, and her autobiography was titled “ I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” The Postal Service says it will not reissue the stamp. April is National Poetry Month, and poets often get inspiration from people and events in the news. In the newspaper find and read a story that interests you, or closely study a photo that interests you. Write a short poem, rap or rhyme based on the item you chose. Use colorful adjectives and active verbs to convey the emotions, feelings and thoughts the item inspires in you.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

3. Wrongfully Jailed 30 Years

The state of Alabama “took 30 years from me,” said Anthony Ray Hinton when freed from prison, three decades after he was wrongfully convicted of a string of shootings in and around the city of Birmingham. Most of his prison time was spent on death row. He was freed after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled his conviction was “constitutionally deficient” because he had been assigned inferior legal representation at the time and the evidence was extraordinarily thin. An attorney with the Equal Justice Institute team that handled Hinton’s appeal said, “He was convicted because he was poor. … We have a system that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent … a system that is compromised by racial bias …” Hinton, 58, is African American. Wrongful conviction for a crime is viewed by many as a human rights violation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another human rights violation in the U.S. or somewhere else in the world. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining ways to prevent this violation from occurring again.

Common Core State Standards: 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.

4. Trevor Who?

For many Americans, “The Daily Show” has become a significant source of political information and commentary. So who will replace long-time host Jon Stewart? Comedy Central has announced that the new host will be Trevor Noah, prompting many fans to ask “Trevor who?” He’s a 31-year-old comedian from South Africa who made his debut as an on-air contributor to Stewart’s show. Stewart is stepping down later this year after a 16-year run that transformed the show into authoritative, satiric commentary on current events. Stewart likes the choice of a replacement. In fact, he says, Noah is such “a tremendous comic and talent,” he “may rejoin as a correspondent just to be part of it.” As a class, discuss which television shows you watch, and why. Then find a story or listing for a favorite show in the newspaper. Think like a TV critic, and write a review of the show, detailing why you like it and supporting your opinions with facts.

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.

5. Iran Women in the Stands

The Middle East nation of Iran has announced a major shift in tradition — from now on, women will be allowed to attend many major sporting events. In the past, they have been banned by conservative Islamic tradition from entering stadiums to watch matches attended by men. Now, the Iranian government has announced that stadiums will become more “family-oriented” and have a “softer” atmosphere that would allow women to attend some events. But not all events. They still will be banned from “masculine” sports like wrestling and swimming, in which too much of the male body is exposed. The ban had been protested vigorously by international sports federations and by Iranian activists. In many nations, women do not have the rights they have in the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about women seeking rights in another nation. Based on what you read, brainstorm an idea for a documentary film explaining the situation and the struggles women experience. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.