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For Grades 9-12 , week of July 25, 2016

1. Presidential Politics

The 2016 race for president is in the news. The Republicans held their national convention last week, nominating businessman Donald Trump as their presidential candidate. The Democrats hold their convention this week, at which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to become the first woman to be nominated for president by a major political party. The Republicans and Democrats have very different positions on major issues ranging from immigration to world trade to gun control. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about issues the Democrats are discussing this week at their convention. Then use the newspaper or Internet to research what Republicans said about the same issues at their convention. Use what you read to write a political analysis for the newspaper, comparing the positions of the two parties on several key issues.

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. City to Tax Soft Drinks

Cities desperate for revenue across the nation are closely watching a new tax on sweetened beverages passed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mayor James Kenney says the tax is a public health measure as well as a revenue producer, since sugary soft drinks contribute to obesity and other disorders. The 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax is expected to yield about $91 million annually, and Mayor Kenney says it will fund expansion of pre-kindergarten programs, plus other municipal activities. An opponent group calling itself the No Philly Grocery Tax Coalition says it will fight the tax in court. The coalition, which is funded primarily by the beverage industry, claims the tax is unconstitutional. If it survives the legal challenge, the tax goes into effect January 1. Philadelphia’s tax on sugary soft drinks has caused much debate as a way to improve public health and raise revenue. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another effort to improve public health. Use what you read to write a short editorial, giving your opinion on whether the effort is worthwhile, or whether something else should be tried. Share and discuss your editorial with family or friends.

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. Climate Change Kills Rodent

In the first documented extinction due to climate change, Australian researchers report that rising sea levels have wiped out a rodent that lived on a tiny outcropping on the Great Barrier Reef. The long-tailed Bramble Cay melomys lived nowhere else and was believed to be the only mammal endemic to the Reef. Scientists attribute the creature’s disappearance to “high tides and surging seawater … destroy[ing] the animal’s habitat and food source” on the atoll in the Torres Strait. Climate change and global warming are having impact on natural environments all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effect. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short film or video explaining the situation and what people might do about it. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Then write the first scene.

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.

4. Grandsons & Art Masters

A joint exhibit of works by artists Pablo Picasso and Alexander Calder will launch a new gallery in New York City — and the co-curators will be grandsons of the two great artists. They are Alexander S.C. Rower, founding director of the Calder Foundation, and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, a co-founder of the Museo Picasso Malaga. The exhibit, which opens in October, will feature 50 works from the grandsons’ collections, many of them seldom or never seen in public. The exhibit will inaugurate the Almine Rech Gallery’s first United States location. Almine Rech, who also has locations in Europe, is Ruiz-Picasso’s wife. Artists interpret the emotions, experiences and events of life in creative ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person, experience or event that interests you. Then create an artwork that captures the importance or emotions inspired by the subject. Give your work a creative title and share with family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Assault Weapon Ban?

Public support for a nationwide ban on assault weapons has jumped sharply after a gunman used a semi-automatic assault rifle to kill 49 people in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub. A recent CBS poll showed 57 percent of Americans now support a ban, compared to 44 percent in the same poll in December. The Orlando shooting has reignited public debate over military-style weapons in society. Seven recent mass shootings have been committed with an assault rifle, which enables the assailant to kill or wound more victims in less time, with a weapon that’s more powerful and accurate than others. After the nightclub attack, the U.S. Senate voted down a series of gun control measures that would have expanded background checks and delayed or banned gun sales to people on government watch lists for potential terrorists. The debate over gun violence has affected every community. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the debate, and what different people are saying. Use what you read, to write a paragraph or letter to a friend describing one thing you would like to see happen in response to gun violence.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; 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.


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