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For Grades 9-12 , week of Aug. 15, 2016

1. Woman Leads Britain

In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton is seeking to become the first woman elected president of the United States. This summer, the European nation of Britain chose a woman as its prime minister — for just the second time in history. Theresa May of the Conservative Party will lead Britain as it faces challenges ranging from departure from the European Union, to new social and political divisions and revival of a wounded economy. The first woman to be prime minister was Margaret Thatcher, who served from 1979 to 1990. Until becoming prime minister May had been Britain’s home secretary. She replaces fellow-Conservative David Cameron, who resigned after the public voted for “Brexit,” the nation’s exit from the European Union. Cameron had opposed Brexit. Britain is one of the strongest allies of the United States, and faces many of the same problems. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about problems faced by Britain and how they compare to problems faced by this country. Use what you read to write a short political analysis, comparing several issues, and what each nation is proposing to do about them.

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.

2. Malala Pleads for Somali Girls

Malala Yousafzai observed her 19th birthday visiting the world’s largest refugee camp in the African nation of Kenya. Kenya plans to close the camp as a security liability, and Yousafzai pleaded that none of its 30,000 occupants be returned to neighboring Somalia, which is plagued by extremist violence. Yousafzai is the youngest winner ever of the Nobel Peace Prize, after being shot in the head by Taliban militants for advocating education of girls in her native Pakistan. In Kenya, she expressed concern that girls in the refugee camp might become “a generation lost” without “alternative facilities for them to continue with their education.” Malala Yousafzai’s life story has inspired millions of girls and women around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about her achievements and the challenges she has overcome. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short film or video examining how her work could inspire people in this country. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene, in the form of a movie screenplay.

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.

3. Athletes & Social Change

New York Knicks’ star Carmelo Anthony is a professional athlete with a social conscience, and he’s urging other athletes to speak up — as he’s doing — for social and political change. “The system is broken,” he has declared. “We have to put pressure on the people in charge in order to get this thing called justice right.” Reacting to news of killings by police across the nation, and killings OF police, Anthony dismissed the idea that athletes should “stick to sports” and not get involved in social issues. “No more sitting back and being afraid of tackling and addressing political issues any more,” Anthony says. Athletes “can’t worry about what endorsements we gonna lose or [who’s] going to look at us crazy. ... Go to your local officials, leaders, congressmen, assemblymen and demand change.” More athletes and celebrities are speaking out about social and political issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an athlete or celebrity speaking out. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, detailing why this person speaking out can have impact — and on whom.

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.

4. ID Law Discriminatory

A federal appeals court has ruled that Texas’s strict voter identification law discriminates against minorities and has instructed lower courts to come up with a way to minimize its effect. Similar laws in other states face similar court challenges. The Texas law, passed in 2011, requires voters to produce a government-issued photo ID to vote. The court ruling upheld claims that it discriminates against those who have difficulty obtaining the ID, many of them black or Hispanic. Supporters of the Texas law and similar laws say they are designed to curb voter fraud but critics say they are really designed to discourage minorities from voting. The right to vote is one of the most important in the United States. But many states have placed restrictions or regulations on voting. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about voting issues affecting the 2016 presidential race. Do some additional research and find out what the major candidates are saying about the issues. Then create a website to offer people more information about voting rights and the election. Design the home page to show categories of information you want to highlight. Pick an image or video to illustrate each category. Then write headlines and text blocks to briefly explain each category. Finish by creating a “site map” showing additional categories you want your website to have.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; 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. Brazilians Wary of Olympics

The Summer Olympics are in high gear in the city of Rio de Janeiro in the South American nation of Brazil. As athletes compete for gold medals, many Brazilians are worrying whether the Games will have a positive or negative effect on their country. Just before the start of the Olympics, a poll of Brazilians found that two out of three believed that hosting the Games will do the country more harm than good. They expressed concern to pollsters about high crime and government budget cuts. Brazil has been hit hard by recession, unemployment and rising inflation, and worries about these issues grew as plans were finalized for the Summer Olympics. Hosting the Olympics costs host cities a great deal of money and residents often wonder if it is worth the investment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the economic impact of the Summer Olympics on Rio and Brazil. Use what you read to write a short editorial offering advice to cities that might want to host the Olympics in the future — and what issues they should consider closely.

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.