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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 09, 2012

1. How Far Is Too Far?

How far should people go to make their point? Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel recently dressed up as Nazi concentration camp inmates during a protest against what they consider to be a “national campaign against their lifestyle,” according to an Associated Press article. They wore yellow Star of David patches with “Jude” – the German word for Jew – on them and referred to Israeli police officers as Nazis. The protestors drew intense criticism in the Middle East nation – especially from Holocaust survivors. “We must leave the Holocaust and its symbols outside the arguments in Israeli society,” said Moshe Zanbar. On the other side, some Israeli protestors carried signs saying, “Free Israel from religious coercion.” Search the newspaper for an article that is socially and politically volatile or controversial. As a class discuss the reason for the controversy and its ramifications.

Core/National Standard: Propelling conversations by posing and responding to questions.

2. Tricky Dick

Richard M. Nixon was born on January 9, 1913. He was a complex man who accomplished great things, but had to resign the presidency of the United States in disgrace. Find an article in this week's newspapers about a person who has done both wonderful and terrible things. Or find an example online. Write a persuasive essay about how you think history should remember this person, given his/her complex contributions.

Core/National Standard: Demonstrating understanding of the complexity of enduring issues and recurring problems by making connections and generating themes within and across texts.

3. News in Review

The year 2011 was an eventful one. Yahoo! News listed the top 10 stories and chose a variety from politics to popular culture. Yahoo! ranked the Casey Anthony trial the top story of the year with its daily controversy about the mother accused of killing her daughter. Other stories ranked in the Top 5 include the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, the death of Osama bin Laden and unemployment in the United States. The shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, the death of singer Amy Winehouse, the downfall of Arab leaders, the death of Moammar Gadhafi and the Occupy Wall Street protests rounded out the year’s top stories. Many of these stories affected people across the country and around the world. With your newspaper or the Internet, find a story about a top story topic of 2011. Write a brief essay on what happened and how it affected your life.

Core/National Standard: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts and information.

4. Inspirational

He said not a word, but Ben Breedlove touched the world with his silent message. The 18-year-old from Texas posted a video on YouTube that went viral. He stayed silent, just holding up index cards to tell his story of living with a heart condition. Breedlove shared how he had cheated death three times. The first time was when he was just 4 years old. The second time was this last summer, when he went in for a routine tonsillectomy and his heart stopped. The third time, he collapsed at school but was revived by paramedics. Unfortunately, Breedlove died from a heart attack on Christmas night, just days after telling his inspirational and uplifting story on YouTube. Find a story in your newspaper about a young person overcoming odds. Research that person and put together an inspirational multimedia presentation about him or her.

Core/National Standard: Using technology to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

5. Social Conscience

Most people use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family. Some use it as a network to find jobs. Damon Brown used Facebook to find a kidney. The Seattle, Washington, father set up a Facebook page telling his story about being on the transplant list and not knowing if he would live long enough to get a kidney, according to an Associated Press story. After seeing his page, a woman his wife knows will be donating a kidney to him. Find a newspaper article about different ways people use social networking. Discuss how you and your classmates use it. Then use the newspaper to find a cause that could be helped by using social networking.

Core/National Standard: Building on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others.