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For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 24, 2016

1. Election Attacks

Election Day in this year’s race for president is just two and a half weeks away, and the candidates are going on the attack in an effort to gain an advantage before November 8. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories describing ways Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are attacking each other and each other’s positions. Use what you read and other resources to write a political analysis giving your view on which attacks you think will be the most effective with voters, and which will not be effective.

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.

2. The Dylan Debate

In a surprise move, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature this month — and it sparked a worldwide controversy. Up to now the world’s top literature prize has been awarded to authors and poets, most of them renowned scholars (and many not well known). But the Swedish Academy that awards the prizes declared this year that Dylan’s popular song lyrics have “created new poetic expression within the great American song tradition” and had “a profound … influence on contemporary music.” Dylan is the first songwriter to win the Nobel in literature but he also “is a great poet in the English-speaking tradition,” according to a Nobel spokesperson. He is still touring and performing at age 75. Bob Dylan used the lyrics of many songs to call attention to problems and get people to take action. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a problem you think needs attention. Think like a songwriter write the opening stanzas of a song about the problem. Make your stanzas 4-6 lines each and create a rhyme scheme for the lines. Make your opening lines dramatic to get people’s attention.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. Household Dust Hazards

Household dust may be hazardous to your health — and chemicals from common consumer products may be to blame. According to a new study, the presence of such chemicals in household dust is at such a high level that people are probably inhaling and accidentally eating small amounts. The most abundant chemicals found by the study were those used in flexible plastics, cosmetics, personal care products and a flame retardant called TCEP that has been linked to cancer and brain damage in mice. The 10 most common chemicals in the study were found in more than 90 percent of the dust samples examined, researchers report in the journal called Environmental Science & Technology. Health and safety issues are often in the news because they affect so many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a health or safety issue that families should know about. Use what your read to brainstorm an idea for a public service TV ad, outlining the key points people should know. Write an outline for your ad, including what images you would use. Then write the first scene of your ad.

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.

4. Fatigue Syndrome Is Real

People who feel tired all the time have long wanted to know what causes the condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). According to new research, the syndrome is a physical disease with biological causes, rather than a psychological condition. Reporting in the journal Microbiome, researchers conclude that CFS patients have less diverse bacteria in their intestines and higher blood levels of bacteria that move from the intestines into the bloodstream. “There’s a biological difference,” the lead researcher writes. “The long-lasting idea that it’s a psychological illness should be abandoned.” The syndrome causes extreme fatigue, often preventing people from routine activities, but no tests exist to confirm the diagnosis. Medical research is often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a medical study or medical breakthrough. Pretend you are a reporter for the newspaper. Write out five questions you think readers would want answers to when reading about the issue.

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.

5. Teens Smoking, Drinking Less

Smoking and drinking among American teenagers fell to new lows last year, according to a national survey by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Just 9.6 percent of adolescents reported using alcohol in 2015, down from 17.6 percent in 2002. Smoking dropped to about 20 percent, compared to 32 percent in 2002. Adolescents today have much lower smoking and drinking rates than their parents’ generation, but the agency notes that prescription and opioid drug use remains high among teens and young adults. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the risks of prescription or opioid drug use. Then use what you read to write a personal letter to a younger student or sibling, offering reasons for avoiding the use of such drugs.

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.