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For Grades 9-12 , week of June 06, 2016

1. Teachers Can Bear Arms

A bill allowing staff and faculty to carry arms on the campuses of Tennessee’s public colleges has become law without the governor’s signature. Campus leaders should “make their own decisions on security issues,” said Governor Bill Haslam. Any employee interested in carrying a weapon on campus will be required to notify law enforcement and will face some limitations as to where they can carry a gun. The law keeps weapons bans in place in gymnasiums, auditoriums and other areas during school-sponsored events and at meetings at which disciplinary or tenure issues are on the agenda. Opponents of the measure — which include police chiefs, students and faculty members — say the law will be hard to enforce and will not make campuses safer. Gun violence on college campus has sparked debate on what could be done to make universities safer. Some people, like the Tennessee legislature, feel allowing people to carry weapons would reduce violence. Others think reducing the number of weapons would be best. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about guns on college campuses. Use what you read to write a short editorial giving your opinion on whether guns should be allowed on campus, or in what ways.

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. Struggling for ‘Cybertalent’

The United States government is trying to recruit computer experts to meet the increasing threat of cyber-attacks, but it’s having trouble matching the pay offered in the private sector. “We need more cybertalent … in the federal government,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told members of the U.S. Senate recently, “and we are not where we should be.” A recent cyberattack by Iranian hackers on a small New York dam has raised the specter of similar attacks on power grids, pipelines and air traffic control — many of which run on outdated hardware and software. Data have already shown there have been attempted cyber-attacks on a variety of targets, including in health care and manufacturing systems. Technology jobs will be more and more important in the 21st century. Use the newspaper and Internet to make a list of 10 companies and professions that do business in your community. For each, list ways it uses technology today. Then list how each will use technology even more in the future.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

3. Unclean Gym Equipment

Ewwwwwww! Local gyms are among the dirtiest places people can visit today, the website FitRated warns. Free weights are contaminated with up to 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat and treadmills hold 74 times more than the average washroom faucet, the website reports. The really bad news, the website notes, is that most of the bacteria on treadmills can cause skin infections, and even pneumonia and septicemia. In total, the website reports, 70 percent of bacteria found on all gym equipment is potentially harmful to humans, and 31 percent of it is resistant to antibiotics. Gym cleanliness is a public health issue that could affect many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another public health issue that could affect many people. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay detailing why the issue is important, what is being done and what should be done in the future.

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.

4. Leopards ‘Vulnerable’

The world’s leopards have lost as much as 75 percent of their historical range, and should be reclassified “vulnerable,” a team of 14 scientists has recommended in a study reported in the online science journal called PeerJ. “Vulnerable” is the category before “threatened” in the way wildlife experts rate endangered species. Both are less severe than “endangered.” At one time, leopards roamed over 13.5 million square miles of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, but that range has shrunk to about 3.3 million square miles, the researchers state. The shrinkage is due primarily to human activities, including destruction of habitat, killings by farmers protecting their livestock, illegal trade in skins and parts and hunting of animals that leopards have depended on for prey. Healthy habitats are important for every wildlife species. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a wildlife habitat that is facing challenges or problems. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, detailing the challenges and proposing ways to deal with them. In your letter, be sure to include wildlife species that live in the habitat.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Cruises to Cuba

The Carnival travel company is resuming every-other-week cruises from the United States to Cuba, after a half-century of Cold War animosity between the U.S. and the communist Caribbean nation 90 miles south of the state of Florida. The U.S. and Cuba are normalizing relations after a decades-long rift that began when the communist government of Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in 1959. The cruises will leave from the city of Miami, Florida and make stops in the capital city of Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. Carnival says its aim is cultural, artistic, faith-based and humanitarian exchanges, and it is a long-awaited change for Cuban-born people who wish to revisit their homeland. Other changes in the more relaxed relations between the U.S. and Cuba include resumption of commercial flights, mail service and business investment. Cuba is in the news a lot these days because barriers are being reduced between the U.S. and Cuba. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ways that relations are easing between the two countries. Use what you read to write a creative story or personal column, about how the change could affect a family that has members in both the United States and Cuba.

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.