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For Grades 9-12 , week of Dec. 05, 2016

1. Disgusted by Election

Most Americans were disgusted by the country’s politics this year, according to a new poll, and many doubt the nation can be united by the new president. The ugly presidential campaign left more than eight in 10 voters repulsed rather than excited, according to the final pre-election New York Times-CBS News nationwide poll of 1,333 registered voters. The poll found that a majority of voters viewed both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump unfavorably and felt neither would be able to unite the country. President-elect Trump is setting up the team that will run the country during his presidency and making plans for what he will try to do first. In the newspaper or online, closely read stories about his plans and appointments. Use what you read to write a newspaper editorial assessing which moves have the best chance of uniting the country and which could further divide the country.

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.

2. Controversial Sheriff Loses

America’s best-known sheriff — and perhaps the nation’s most divisive law enforcement figure — has been turned out of office. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a symbol of Arizona’s hard-line stance toward illegal immigration, lost his bid for a seventh term. Political observers say this may have been the result of an increase in Latino voters responding to his aggressive opposition to illegal immigration, which included workplace raids, frequent traffic stops and harsh talk. The state’s largest county, which includes the metropolis of Phoenix, replaced Arpaio with Democrat Paul Penzone, a former Phoenix police sergeant who won 54.9 percent of the vote. From the presidency to local races, the debate over illegal immigration was one of the hottest topics of the 2016 election. And the debate continues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about what various leaders propose to do about illegal immigration. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor giving your view on one measure you think should be tried and one that should not.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Dylan to Skip Nobel Ceremony

American Bob Dylan made history this fall when he became the first singer-songwriter to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. But when it’s awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, on December 10, he won’t be there. Why? “Pre-existing commitments,” he said in a letter to the Swedish Academy, even though he said he feels “very honored” by his selection. The Swedish Academy, which chooses the Nobel winners, cited Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” He hasn’t exactly jumped for joy over the honor, though. At first, he didn’t even acknowledge it publicly, and his elusiveness prompted one Nobel committee member to call his reaction “impolite and arrogant.” No word on what his “commitments” are, but he has been performing almost non-stop for years on what has been called “the Never Ending Tour.” Bob Dylan’s song lyrics have often been praised as poetry, for the images they create and the topics he explores. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person, situation or emotional relationship. Use what you read to write a song, poem, rap or rhyme about the person or situation. Your songs/poems do not need to rhyme but should use vivid language, metaphors and comparisons. Share poems as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

4. Hawaiian Birds Face Extinction

Hawaii has a variety of brightly-colored songbirds unique to America’s 50th state, but only 18 of more than 50 species remain — and most of those face extinction. Researchers report in the journal Science Advances that the birds known as Hawaiian honeykeepers are threatened by disease (largely mosquito-borne), rats (which feed on their eggs) and climate change (rising temperatures enable some predators to thrive). This is a threat to more than the birds themselves. The honeykeeper birds keep bugs under control, spread seeds and pollinate plants. Losing them would cause more damage to an already fragile ecosystem, the researchers note. Efforts to protect endangered species are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an effort to protect one endangered species. Use what you read to create a poster, detailing the dangers faced by the species and what is being done to help it.

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; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Hate Crimes Increasing

Attacks on American Muslims have been increasing, the FBI reports, driving an overall rise in hate crimes against all groups. Observers link the rise to terrorist attacks at home and abroad and to the vitriol expressed in the election campaigning of the last two years. The FBI listed 5,818 hate crimes in 2015, up about 6 percent over the prior year. The crimes included assaults, bombings, threats and property destruction against minorities, women, gays and others. Attacks against Muslims showed the biggest surge — about 67 percent. Attacks against transgender people also increased sharply. Hate crimes target people based on their race, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation. As a class, find and closely read stories about the concern of communities over hate crimes. Then discuss ways communities can work together to reduce or eliminate hate crimes and increase understating and tolerance among different groups.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.