, week of
Apr 13, 2015
1. Student Loan Changes
President Obama has signed a “student bill of rights” designed to make it easier to help people with college student loans pay back their debt. More than 70 percent of Americans who earn college bachelor’s degrees leave college with debt — and it averages $28,400! Under the “bill of rights,” college graduates will get clearer information about how to set monthly payments and change repayment plans, along with better disclosures from lending companies to make sure borrowers understand who is servicing their loan. The plan also requires the U.S. Education Department to better oversee and address complaints about lenders, servicers and loan collection agencies. Paying for college is a challenge for many students and families. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about college costs and different ways students and families find to pay them. Write a paragraph or short essay, explaining several approaches you think are effective.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
2. ‘Too Skinny’ to Survive
When police fired birdshot and tear gas at demonstrators in Cairo, Egypt, recently, one of the activists was killed — because she was “too skinny,” a government official declared. He has been dismissed as a result of the comment, but Egypt’s Justice Ministry is investigating whether more body fat might have obstructed the pellets that pierced her heart and lungs. She had been taking part in a march to lay flowers in Tahrir Square, site of a series of “Arab Spring” protests in recent years. The other marchers survived, and one policeman has been charged with manslaughter. Political unrest in Egypt and nearby Middle East nations has been in the news often this year. In the newspaper, find and closely read a story or stories about unrest in one nation in the region. Use what you read to summarize the issues involved, what the different sides believe and what you think will happen next based on the facts of the story.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Tunnel Mystery
When a mysterious tunnel was discovered in Toronto, Canada, near a Pan Am Games site, it raised fears of terrorism and set off a social media frenzy. But police say public safety was never at risk. The 33-foot-long, reinforced “tunnel to nowhere” was built as a “man cave” by two young men, police say, with no criminal intent. Tips from the public helped police in the Canadian metropolis identify the two men. When people do unusual things, it can draw attention from newspapers and the Internet — and inspire creative writers. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about someone doing something unusual or odd. Use what you read to brainstorm a plot for a “graphic novel” that would be told like a comic book. Then draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper that would be one chapter in your “graphic novel.” Give your strip/novel a title that would make people want to read it.
Common Core State Standards: 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.
4. Financially Insecure
Most Americans feel unprepared for a financial emergency, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts survey. More specifically, 57 percent of the 7,845 surveyed say they are not ready for a financial setback, 55 percent spend as much as or more than they earn, and one-third have no savings. Even among those with annual incomes of more than $100,000, 22 percent felt insecure, 10 percent had no savings and 12 percent reported having less than $10,000 available for use (not including housing). A key reason for this feeling of vulnerability is that 82 percent reported suffering an economic shock (such as medical expenses, loss of a spouse or major repairs) in the prior year. Economic security is important to every family or individual. And the health of the nation’s economy is important to national and state leaders. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about economic security of individuals or the overall state of the nation’s economy. Read the story and write a letter to the editor outlining two points others should know about, based on information in the story.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. Violence Against Women
Violence against girls and women around the world “persists at an alarmingly high level,” the United Nations reports. About 35 percent of women worldwide — more than one in three — say they have experienced violence in their lifetimes. Acknowledging women’s gains in education, health and political power, the U.N. analysis notes that violence against women remains high in countries that are rich as well as poor, at war and at peace. For example, the report notes, 38 percent of female murder victims have been killed by their partners. In many parts of the world, women still struggle to overcome violence and to gain rights we take for granted in the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about women’s rights or women’s issues in another country. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining steps the United States and other nations could take to improve the situation for women in that country.
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.