, week of
Oct. 27, 2014
1. Nobel Winner at 17
Malala Yousafzai is just 17 but she already has done more than many adults to promote education for girls and women. Now she has been named the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner ever. The honor rewards more than six years of work by Malala, and also her courage in overcoming an assassination attempt by Taliban militants in her native Pakistan. In an attempt to silence her support for the education of girls, the militants boarded her school bus in 2012, and shot her in the head. The girl was attacked as punishment for an Internet blog she had started as an 11-year-old. Unable to return to Pakistan after her recovery, she and her family moved to the European country of Great Britain and set up a fund to support education advocacy in Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, Syria and Kenya. She shares this year’s Peace Prize with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. Malala Yousafzai has inspired girls and women around the world for her courage standing up for her beliefs. In the newspaper or online, find a story about another girl or woman who is taking a stand or working for change. Write a short editorial for the newspaper discussing how this girl or woman could inspire others, as Malala has.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. A ‘Superbug’ in Sports
It’s well known that athletes in contact sports risk the consequences of concussions, but a new study indicates they may be facing another risk. They may become carriers of a “superbug” bacteria known as MRSA. Even if the athlete is healthy and showing no signs of infection, he or she could be “colonized with these potentially harmful bacteria,” a researcher noted. The study found athletes playing sports like football and soccer are more than twice as likely as non-contact athletes to be colonized with MRSA — whose formal name is Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). This, the researchers speculate, is because of skin-to-skin contact and cuts and bruises that allow the bug to enter the body. Health and safety issues are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find a story about a health issue important to teens or their families. Read the story closely. Then design a series of public service newspaper ads to educate teens and families about the issue. Give each of your ads an eye-catching headline.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.
3. GOP to Take Senate?
If polls are to be believed, there’s a good chance that after the midterm elections November 4, Republicans will be in the majority in both houses of the U.S. Congress. Polls show that Republican control of the House of Representatives is secure and indicate the GOP will win in enough states to gain an edge in the Senate. Republicans now hold or are expected to hold 44 Senate seats and the Democrats 45, with seven seats up for grabs in this year’s elections. Polls indicate that those races are close, but Republicans are clear favorites in most of them. “Close but clear,” the polls agree, which is bad news for President Obama, who has had problems with Republicans in Congress for most of his time in office. In the newspaper or online, find a story about a race for a U.S. Senate seat that is close. Read the story closely and draw an editorial cartoon symbolizing views of the candidates on top issues. Share with the class and discuss.
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.
4. Secret-Money Ads
More than half of the campaign advertising you see on TV for the November 4 elections is being paid for by secret money, often from groups established to shield wealthy individuals and corporations that contribute. This has been reported by The New York Times, based on data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group. At one time, full disclosure was required by law for political contributors, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United decision that outside groups that do not disclose names can raise and spend in campaigns, so long as they don’t coordinate with candidates and parties. As a result, voters are confronted with advertising by an array of groups with generic names and unclear agendas, close to 80 percent aiding Republicans. Campaign ads play a huge role in modern elections. Keep a log of political ads you see while watching TV this week. Create a graph comparing how many ads were negative about opponents and how many ads were positive about the candidate running them. Then write a commentary about the nature political ads this year, based on what you have seen.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
5. McDonald’s & Social Media
McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, is taking to social media with a Q&A ad campaign designed to dispel the notion that its food is unhealthy. On Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, McDonald’s suppliers and restaurants will offer “real answers” to questions that have been raised about the nutrition and healthiness of the foods McDonald’s serves. Fast foods like those served at McDonald’s have been criticized by health experts for the amount of fat, salt and sugar they contain. The McDonald’s ad campaign follows four straight months of declining U.S. sales. It is part of an effort to revive growth, which also has included rolling out menu items and price promotions. Social media have become a popular way for people to communicate, especially for younger users. As a class, talk about the ways you communicate electronically and how you use social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Then write the words SOCIAL MEDIA down the side of a sheet of paper. Use the discussion and your own experience to write a poem or rhyme describing your social media use and what it means to you. Start each line with a letter of the words SOCIAL MEDIA.
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.