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for Grades 9-12

Sep. 15, 2014
Sep. 08, 2014
Sep. 01, 2014
Aug. 25, 2014
Aug. 18, 2014
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Aug. 04, 2014
July 28, 2014
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May 26, 2014
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Mar. 31, 2014
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Jan. 27, 2014
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Jan. 06, 2014
Dec. 16, 2013
Dec. 09, 2013
Dec. 02, 2013
Nov. 25, 2013

For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 15, 2014

1. More to ‘Chocolate Factory’

There’s a lot more to the story of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” than most readers realized. A lost chapter of an earlier version of the 1964 book was found after the death of author Roald Dahl in 1990, and it was published recently in The Guardian newspaper in Great Britain. The new chapter — adding characters and an entire new story line — was omitted from the book originally, because it was “deemed too wild, subversive and insufficiently moral for the tender minds of British children” a half-century ago. Among the material considered inappropriate for children is a description of a “pounding and cutting room” where knives and machines threaten to cut and pound children instead of fudge. For 50 years, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has been enormously popular. More than 20 million copies of the book have been sold in 55 languages, and the story has been made into two movies and a stage musical. As a class, discuss what elements are most important for a book or movie to be popular with young audiences. Then find a news item or person in the newspaper that could provide an idea for a children’s story. Write a summary of what the story could be. Then write the first scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; demonstrating understanding of figurative language; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

2. Inmate e-Mails not Confidential

Inmates’ conversations with their lawyers used to be confidential, but across the country, federal prosecutors have begun reading their e-mails. This has spurred court battles over the right to e-mail confidentiality. All defendants using the federal prison e-mail system have to read and accept a notice that communications are monitored, but defense lawyers argue that the government is overstepping its authority and taking away a necessary tool for an adequate defense. Prosecutors argue that there are other ways for lawyers and clients to communicate besides e-mail. As a class, review the freedoms detailed in the Bill of Rights contained in the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, especially Amendments 4, 5 and 6. Then research court cases involving communications privacy issues. Use what you find to write an editorial for the newspaper taking a position on whether inmates’ e-mails with lawyers should be confidential.

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.

3. Rosa Parks Exhibit

Hundreds of items belonging to civil rights hero Rosa Parks sat unseen in a New York warehouse for years. Now they have been sold to a foundation, which plans to exhibit them because “they belong to the American people.” Howard Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett, said his foundation is trying “to preserve what’s there for the public’s benefit.” Items from the warehouse include her Presidential Medal of Freedom, photos of her with presidents and a pillbox hat she is believed to have been wearing when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. That act triggered a year-long bus boycott and a series of historic events in the struggle for civil rights. An enduring symbol of the civil rights movement, Parks died in 2005 at age 92. The items were removed from her Detroit home after a prolonged dispute between family and friends over what to do with them. The courage of Rosa Parks helped earn rights and respect for African Americans and other ethnic minorities. In the newspaper or online, find a story about another person working to achieve rights or fair treatment for people in America today. Read the story closely and write a paragraph or short essay detailing its key points and ways the person’s effort could benefit all Americans.

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.

4. Beauty Queen Won’t Return Crown

Myanmar’s first winner of an international beauty contest was stripped of her crown, because Miss Asia Pacific World pageant organizers said she was dishonest and unappreciative. In response, she has refused to return her $100,000 crown until they apologize. Speaking from the capital city of the Southeast Asian nation, May Myat Moe says it wasn’t she who lied about her age but pageant officials (she’s 16, not 18). She also charged that pageant leaders tried to pressure her into “head-to-toe” plastic surgery, including breast implants, but she refused. Beauty pageants are held all over the world, and often cause debate. Supporters believe they provide an opportunity for contestants to show their talents, while others feel they exploit women by focusing on beauty rather than other qualities. As a class, divide into teams and debate the merits of beauty pageants, including this month’s Miss America Pageant. Have one team speak in favor and the other in opposition. Take a vote at the end and write up the results in the style of a news story for the newspaper.

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.

5. Bogus Ebola ‘Cures’

The deadly Ebola virus is infecting more and more people on the continent of Africa, and people are desperate for drugs to treat it. But one source Africans should avoid are makers of dietary supplements. The World Health organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have issued a warning for people not to believe “false rumors of effective products” from supplement makers. The warning does not apply to experimental drugs that are being tried, under supervision, in an effort to fight the outbreak. The warning is intended to alert consumers and “to give the perpetrators the opportunity to remove their products.” No Ebola drug is yet FDA-approved, and a prominent bioethicist has recommended that world health agencies create a panel of scientists to determine which experimental drugs are tried. The battle against Ebola virus is getting worldwide attention. In the newspaper or online, find a story detailing the latest status and statistics of the outbreak. Write a summary of the findings, and make a prediction of what you think will happen next.

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.

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