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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 21, 2016

1. Strong Growth for U.S. Economy

The United States economy has accelerated to its strongest growth in two years, the nation’s Commerce Department reports. The rebound has been powered by an increase in exports of goods for sale in other countries and by businesses buying goods to restock their shelves. Economists do not expect this pace to continue, because the rise in exports was fueled by a surge in shipments of soybeans to South America, which is not expected to happen again. In addition, shelf-stocking and rebuilding inventory appear to be declining, consumer spending has slowed and business investment is still trying to recover from cutbacks in the energy industry after oil prices plunged. The health of the nation’s economy reflects how well businesses are doing selling goods and services, how many people are working and what kind of jobs they have. It reflects how many people are living in poverty and how many are doing better than they were a year ago. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories and statistics that reveal how well the economy is doing and how employment and incomes are being affected. Use what you read to design a poster of charts and graphs to show key facts and indicators about the health of the economy.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.

2. A Prince Museum

Paisley Park, the estate and recording location of the music star Prince, has “permanently opened its doors as a museum,” after receiving approval from the City Council of Chanhassen, Minnesota, outside the city of Minneapolis. Fans of Prince, who died in April at age 57, will get a glimpse into the entertainer’s private working environment at the museum, as well as items from his personal archives such as wardrobes, musical instruments, and even motorcycles. Details have been worked out with the town over traffic, parking and public safety, and 600,000 visitors are expected each year. Admirers of popular or important cultural figures often want to commemorate their achievements by establishing a museum, attraction or organization to carry out work the person would have supported. As a class, discuss popular artists or public figures you admire and why you admire them. Then pick one and use the newspaper or Internet to read stories about the person’s achievements. Use what you read to write a proposal for creating a museum, attraction or organization to honor this person, and give reasons for supporting the idea.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; 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.

3. Pipeline Protest Grows

More than 1,281 archaeologists, anthropologists, museum officials and academics have joined the protest against the building of an oil pipeline in the state of North Dakota. In a letter to President Obama, the U.S. Justice and Interior Departments and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the signers of the letter called for further study of the land around the Missouri River, near the border with South Dakota. The federal government has ordered a temporary halt to construction of parts of the pipeline, responding to concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux that the pipeline would cross sacred spaces that are used for burials and contain important archaeological information about the tribe’s origins. The proposed $3.7 billion pipeline would run 1,170 miles from the Dakotas to the state of Illinois. Pipeline protests by Sioux Native Americans and others continue to draw wide attention around the United States and the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the protests and how communities and local officials have responded to them. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay, giving an overview of the pipeline debate, the various kinds of protest it has sparked and what is likely to happen in the near 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. Junk Food & Human Rights

Junk food has become a human rights concern, a United Nations official has declared. Looser trade rules and the mass production of food items have enabled large corporations to flood the global market with cheap, nutrient-poor foods that force poor people to choose between affordability and nutrition, the U.N.’s special representative on the right to food said. Hilal Elver of the U.N. said countries are “obliged to ensure effective measures to regulate the food industry, ensure that nutrition policymaking spaces are free from private sector influence, and implement comprehensive policies that combat malnutrition.” Nearly 800 million people are living in hunger around the globe, Elver said, and more than 2 billion suffer from deficiencies regarding essential vitamins and minerals. Healthy eating is an issue of growing importance around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories addressing the importance of eating a healthy diet and the consequences of not eating a healthy diet in the United States and other countries. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short video of film about the importance of healthy eating. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Then write the first scene.

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.

5. No Driver for Beer Truck

Anheuser-Busch has completed the world’s first commercial shipment of a product by a self-driving truck, sending a tractor-trailer filled with Budweiser beer more than 120 miles through the state of Colorado. The company teamed with the truck’s manufacturer for the trip and the state monitored the journey by placing a professional truck driver in the cab’s sleeper berth. The truck ran from the community of Fort Collins, along Interstate 25, through the city of Denver to its destination of Colorado Springs. The Otto firm that manufactured the truck says it expects to see self-driving vehicles used widely. Developing driverless cars and trucks is getting a lot of attention from carmakers, technology companies and the public. Prototypes are being tested and models are being refined to make them safer and more reliable. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts to develop driverless cars and what companies are involved. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips, showing some of the challenges faced by companies seeking to develop driverless cars. You can make a driverless car a character in your strips if you like.

Common Core State Standards: 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.