, week of
June 06, 2011
1. Witch Hunt On June 10, 1692, the first person tried for being a witch during the Salem Witch Hunts in Massachusetts was hanged. Bridget Bishop was the first of 19 innocent people executed for using witchcraft to control and harm their neighbors. Neighbors testified against neighbors, blaming each other for illness and misfortune. The colony's government later stepped in, and the executions stopped. Now, the term "witch hunt" is used to describe a situation in which finding somebody to blame seems to supersede the need for justice, fairness and truth. Find an example of legal injustice in this week's newspapers. Write a letter to the editor explaining what you think should be done.
Learning Standards: Describing fair ways for groups to make decisions; writing fluently for multiple purposes.
2. Seeking Justice Ethnic cleansing -- the killing of an ethnic group by another group -- has been happening in countries around the world for hundreds of years. In the past 75 years, millions people have been killed in places like Poland, Germany, Austria, Sudan, Iraq, and the former Yugoslavia. Last week, authorities arrested Ratko Mladic in the European country of Serbia, and a United Nations tribunal is charging the former Serbian general with genocide. He is being accused of "orchestrating the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys, and other war crimes" during Bosnia's 1992-95 war, according to an article from the Associated Press. More than 7,000 demonstrators showed up to support Mladic, and a riot broke out in the streets of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. Mladic had been on the run for 16 years. Find newspaper articles about the former Serb general. Or find information about him online. As a class, hold a mock trial with people playing different parts to determine his guilt or innocence.
Learning Standard: Evaluating the responses of individuals to historic violations of human dignity involving discrimination, persecution and crimes against humanity; engaging peers in constructive conversations about topics of interest or importance.
3. Outsourcing The sending of jobs to other countries by U.S. companies has been the topic of discussions, movies and even a television show. But who is really affected by the trend? According to an article in the Arizona Republic, it is increasingly the middle class. The article quotes a Harvard Business School study "that concluded that as many as two out of every five U.S. jobs could conceivably be sent abroad." According to the article, many of those affected include aerospace engineers, high-tech IT programmers, call-center representatives and factory workers such as those in the automobile industry. States such as Michigan, New York and California have been hit the hardest, the newspaper reported. "The U.S. lost about 2.2 million manufacturing jobs between 1990 and 2008, mostly in electronics, aerospace, and the auto industries." In the newspaper or online, find an article about outsourcing and its effect on the local and national economy. Write a persuasive essay supporting or opposing this business practice.
Learning Standard: Structuring ideas and arguments in a sustained and logical order in a persuasive composition; using written and visual texts to identify and research issues of importance that confront adolescents, their community and the nation.
4. Safety First Alex Brown was 17 years old when the South Plains, Texas, teen chose to text while driving. She lost control of her truck, and it skidded 300 feet and flipped over. She was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the truck and died. Pacific Grove, California, student Chelsie Hill was 17 years old when she and three other friends decided to get in the car with a drunk driver. The driver lost control of the car, swerved off the road and slammed into a tree. Chelsie is paralyzed from the waist down. June is National Safety Month and June 12-16 is Teen Driving Safety Week. Search the newspaper for stories about teens and driving accidents. Start an information campaign to ensure a safe driving graduation season, using fliers and posters.
Learning Standards: Understanding and demonstrating behaviors that reduce the risk of becoming involved in potentially dangerous situations and knowing how to react to situations in ways that help protect a student's health; representing creatively.
5. Government Power Tornadoes have ripped through different parts of the country during the past month. Hundreds of people died in Alabama, Mississippi, and Missouri and thousands have been left homeless. Many residents in Cordova, Alabama, still have no place to live after a tornado wrecked their town. The Associated Press news service reported recently that the residents thought they would be getting trailers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but the mayor of the town said "no." There is a law in the town that prohibits single-wide trailers like the ones being offered by the federal government to provide temporary housing. The mayor said he doesn't want to risk the possibility of the town having run-down mobile homes parked all over town in the future. Many people in his town are angry with his decision and say there should be a waiver to the law in these circumstances. Search the newspaper for stories about local city government and decisions that are being made. Write a letter to the editor about a decision that concerns you.
Learning Standards: Writing personal and formal letters including date, salutation, body, closing and signature; acquiring information from multiple sources and the organizing and analyzing it.