, week of
Oct. 12, 2015
1. Rethinking High School
The widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs has launched a $50 million project to rethink high school. Laurene Powell Jobs and a team of high-profile educators and designers are working on new approaches to secondary education. Called “XQ: The Super School Project,” the effort is the highest-profile project yet of the Emerson Collective, a nonprofit organization that finances Powell Jobs’ philanthropic work. Powell Jobs is a graduate of a public high school in West Milford, New Jersey, who went on to earn college degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University. Many efforts are under way around the country to improve public education. In the newspaper or online, find and read about one effort. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing the goal of the effort, and how long it will take to achieve.
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.
2. Bracelets for Shots
Vaccines and immunizations have saved the lives of an estimated 7 million children in the last 15 years, but many young mothers forget to take children to the doctor for shots. That has led to development of a special reminder — a baby bracelet that serves as a tiny calendar. A nonprofit company has created a flexible silicon bracelet that fits around a newborn’s ankle and features symbols representing vaccines that prevent polio, pneumonia, intestinal rotavirus and a shot that protects against five other diseases. When every mark on the bracelet is punched, the baby is fully protected. The bracelet was developed by a volunteer in the South American nation of Peru, with a grant from the Gates Foundation. The grant was part of a program involving United Nations agencies and others to vaccinate the world’s children. Vaccine shots are one health issue that affects families and children. In the newspaper or online, read about another health issue or problem. Use what you read to write a short editorial for the newspaper, offering suggestions on ways to deal with issue.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Spy Charges Dropped
The U.S. Justice Department has dropped espionage charges against Temple University physics department chairman Xi Xiaoxing, an American citizen who had been charged with sending schematics of sophisticated laboratory equipment to China. Apparently, FBI agents did not understand the science involved in what they believed was evidence. “I don’t expect them to understand everything I do,” he said, but by “not consult[ing] experts and then charging me, [they] put my family through all this [and] damage[d] my reputation.” All major nations engage in espionage and intelligence-gathering to learn more about rival nations, neighbors and even friends. The goal is to gather information without attracting attention or jeopardizing relationships between nations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about two nations that have relations between each other. Imagine you are in charge of intelligence gathering for one of the nations. Write a political column for the newspaper, detailing what kind of intelligence you would gather about the other nation, and why. Share and discuss as a class.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. Fraternities Disciplined
Three fraternities at Miami University in Ohio have been disciplined for hazing students and for conduct violations. The university, which has more than 40 “Greek” fraternity organizations, has withdrawn recognition from the three, warning that it won’t stand for hazing. At one of the fraternities, pledges seeking to join were forced to tally with markers on their chests how many beers they drank (the goal was 100). In another, they had to participate in hours-long predawn workouts. Hazing used to be common at fraternities and universities, but it has drawn criticism in recent years because it puts students at risk by asking them to do potentially dangerous things. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about efforts to curb hazing at universities. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short film or video to educate people about the dangers of hazing. Write an outline for your film, including visuals you would use in it. Give your film a title that would draw attention to the topic.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
5. Ordeal in Wilderness
A 77-year-old man survived three nights and four days in the Utah wilderness, east of Salt Lake City, but emerged in “pretty good shape” despite dehydration and some minor injuries. He drank water from streams, he told rescuers, and slept next to brush to stay warm, as temperatures dipped into the 30s in the Uinta Mountains where he was lost. People often have to improvise to deal with unexpected situations. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about someone who had to improvise to deal with a situation. Then use what you read to draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper, illustrating things the person did and how effective they were.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.