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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 14, 2016

1. Republican Washington

The election of Donald Trump as president gives Republicans control of the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. And because the president nominates justices who sit on the U.S. Supreme Court (and the Senate approves), Republicans now will be able to fill the ninth seat on the Court that has been vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia died nine months ago. Over the last several years, lack of cooperation between Democratic President Barack Obama and the Republican-controlled House and Senate led to legislative “gridlock.” That situation has now changed dramatically. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories addressing the new Republican control of the national government in Washington, D.C. Use what you read to write a short editorial, offering the greatest advantages of this situation, and the greatest disadvantages.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Election Painting for Sale

U.S. voting is in the spotlight this week, after the race for president. And later this month voting will be in the spotlight again for a different reason. A famous voting painting by American artist Norman Rockwell will be sold at auction November 21, and is expected to bring a price of $4 million to $8 million. The painting — titled “Which One? (Undecided; Man in the Voting Booth)” — was used as a cover illustration for the Saturday Evening Post magazine during the hotly contested 1944 presidential race in which Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Republican Thomas E. Dewey. It shows a man in a voting booth who can’t make a decision, despite pockets full of newspapers and pamphlets. The painting will be sold at the Sotheby’s auction house in New York City and will be on public display there until the auction. Artists often are inspired to create artworks by current events. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about the race for president or another current event. Use what you read to create a drawing or other artwork that expresses your response to the event. Use images that symbolize your emotions, thoughts or opinions. Give your artwork a creative title and share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

3. Graduations at Record High

The high school graduation rate in the United States continues to rise, and reached a record 83.2 percent in the 2014-2015 school year. That is up nearly a full percentage point from the previous year, the U.S. Department of Education reports. Washington, D.C., made more progress than anywhere else in the United States, rising 7 percentage points in its high school graduation rate. The rise in the U.S. graduation rate is positive news for schools across the nation, because a high school diploma is an important credential for getting many jobs. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another positive development in education in the United States. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, calling attention to this positive news.

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.

4. No Peace for Plotters

Death alone is not enough punishment for those who plotted a coup that failed to overthrow the government this summer in the nation of Turkey. They’re not even being permitted to rest in peace. Those who died in the aborted try have been buried in a new “Traitors’ Cemetery” tucked away on the site of a new dog shelter in the city of Istanbul. They also have been denied prayers and funeral services. “May every passer-by curse them and let them not rest in their tombs,” the mayor of Istanbul has decreed, to which Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs added, they “do not deserve exoneration. …” The Amnesty International human rights group decried the policy as “contributing to what is a pretty poisonous … and dangerous atmosphere” in the nation next to the Middle East on the border between the continents of Europe and Asia. Because of its location, Turkey is an important nation in international affairs. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about Turkey, its politics or its relations with other nations. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay analyzing Turkey’s importance to the United States and other nations.

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.

5. $300,000 for ‘Oz’ Slippers?

The ruby red slippers worn by Dorothy in the 1939 movie classic “The Wizard of Oz” are possibly the world’s most famous pair of shoes. But they are deteriorating at the nation’s Smithsonian Institution, and the museum says it could cost as much as $300,000 to repair them. So the Smithsonian has launched an online Kickstarter campaign to raise the money needed to rescue the slippers worn by actress Judy Garland in the film. Interestingly, the slippers were not custom made for the movie. They were commercially manufactured, bought by MGM Studios, dyed red and then decorated with netting and sequins. Today the paint on the arches of the shoes is cracked and flaking, the Smithsonian said, jeopardizing the distinctive look of the shoes. Two conservators and five Smithsonian scientists will work nine months to a year to restore the slippers. Items seen in movies or TV shows often have great appeal for viewers and fans. As a class, discuss items you have seen that have popular appeal. Then pick one item and create a series of humorous comic strips showing its appeal and how fans might react to it in a silly way.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.