, week of
Dec. 05, 2016
1. Reindeer Survival
Reindeer get a lot of attention during the holidays, but in Russia they are getting attention they would rather not have. Many are starving to death on Russia’s Yamal Peninsula in Siberia because of an unusual ice barrier that has smothered their pastures. Twice recently, the ice has become too deep and too tough for the reindeer to dig through with their hooves to get at the lichen moss and plants they eat. An estimated 80,000 reindeer are affected, and wildlife officials fear they could starve as the winter advances. In the winter months, wildlife face many challenges and threats to survival. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a threat or challenge faced by a wildlife species this winter. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short film or video calling attention to the situation. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Then write a summary of the opening scene and why you think that would be the best way to start.
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.
2. A Drop in Smoking
The number of cigarette smokers in the United States has dropped by 8.5 million in the last 10 years, a number that could grow even more as a result of a tobacco tax just passed in the state of California. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the smoking rate has fallen from 21 percent of the adult population in 2005 to 15 percent in 2015 — and 1.7 percentage points just between 2014 and 2015. A big drop took place in 2009 when the federal government increased tobacco taxes by 62 cents a package, and this Election Day, voters approved a $2-a-pack tax increase in California. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the nation. It has been linked to 40 percent of all cancer cases and 30 percent of all cancer deaths. Public health issues like smoking are often in the news because they affect so many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a public health issue that teens, pre-teens and families should be aware of. Use what you read to design a poster or public service ad for the newspaper calling attention to the issue. Use what you read to highlight the key points families should know about. Give your ad/poster an eye-catching headline.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.
3. Voters Reject Stadium
In the city of San Diego, California, voters rejected a referendum initiative that would have steered hundreds of millions of tax dollars toward a stadium that the city’s NFL Chargers wanted built downtown. Now the Chargers must decide whether to pay for a new stadium themselves, look for a different site or move to Los Angeles, where they have an option to move into and share a stadium being built by the Rams. For 49 years, the Chargers have been playing in Qualcomm Stadium, one of the league’s oldest playing facilities. The referendum called for raising the city’s hotel tax to finance the new stadium on a plot near the city’s convention center. Hotel interests opposed it, and many fans claimed parking space would be limited around the small, proposed building site. Cities often build new stadiums to attract or keep professional sports teams. And pro teams sometimes play cities against each other to get the best deal. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about cities planning new stadiums or teams seeking new stadiums. Use what you read to write an editorial giving your opinion on whether public money should be spent on stadiums for pro teams — and why. Discuss opinions as a class.
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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.
4. Ammo Too Costly
The USS Zumwalt is the Navy’s newest and most advanced destroyer, and special rocket-powered projectiles have been developed for the its gun system. The problem is they may be too expensive for the Navy to buy in the number needed to stock the ship. The projectiles cost $800,000 each, and while 90 have been purchased the Zumwalt is supposed to be stocked with 600. For now, the Navy has no plans to buy more, and is evaluating alternatives that won’t cost as much. The Zumwalt is one of three high-tech ships being built for the U.S. Navy. The other two are under construction at Bath Iron Works in the state of Maine. Developing new equipment for the Navy and other branches of the U.S. military is important to national security. It also is very expensive. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the cost of funding the military. Use what you read to write a short paper analyzing costs faced by the military and what views political leaders have of them.
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. Tourists Warned About U.S.
Over the years, the United States has frequently warned Americans to stay away from trouble spots when traveling abroad. Now a foreign country has turned the tables. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning for its citizens in the U.S., citing protest marches in American cities since Donald Trump was elected president. Turks in the U.S. were advised to avoid areas where protests are taking place, to increase security measures and to call police “in the face of any xenophobic or racist attacks.” Some of the wording was similar to past warnings given to Americans traveling in Turkey. The Turkish warning about U.S. travel is one example of reaction in other nations about the U.S. presidential election. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other reactions. Use what you read to create a multi-media presentation for the class, highlighting several reactions and what they could mean to future relations with the U.S.
Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.