, week of
Nov. 28, 2016
1. Trump, Russia & China
With the apparent intention to improve relations, President-elect Donald Trump has spoken to the leaders of Russia and China, the two biggest rivals of the United States. Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin agreed to review their “absolutely unsatisfactory state of bilateral relations,” the Russian government reports, and China president Xi Jinping said “cooperation is the only correct choice” for the U.S. and his country. As a candidate, Trump accused China of inventing the concept of climate change to hurt American businesses. The Russian government was one of the few that was openly warm to Trump as a candidate, and pleased by his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. President-elect Trump is organizing his team of foreign-policy advisors, who will provide guidance and advice for dealing with other nations. Other nations are watching the process closely to get an idea of what kind of leader Trump will be. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about Trump’s advisors for foreign policy and how other nations are reacting. Use what you read to write a short editorial assessing Trump’s vision for foreign policy dealing with other nations. Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions..
2. Trump Neighborhood Access
In New York City, the Manhattan neighborhood at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street is no longer easily accessible to crowds. That’s because Trump Tower is there, and that’s where President-elect Donald Trump lives. Since his election November 8, it’s been restricted by portable roadblocks, concrete barriers, metallic barricades and a lot of police officers, many in tactical gear. Even the sky above has been declared “national defense airspace.” Most restrictions will be lifted January 21, when Trump is scheduled to move into the White House in Washington, D.C. It’s all part of a security plan worked out by the New York City Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service. When a new president takes office, the transition process deals with more than setting policies and filling jobs. It also has to work out details of day-to-day concerns such as providing security and meeting the new president’s needs or preferences. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about transition issues that do not involve setting policy or picking advisors. Write the word TRANSITION down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the word to start a phrase or sentence describing challenges being dealt with by the transition team.
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.
3. Women Plan ‘March on Washington’
Tens of thousands of Americans plan to participate in a “Women’s March on Washington” on January 21, the day after Donald Trump is inaugurated as president. More than 44,000 have told Facebook they will be there, and 121,000 have expressed interest. Though Trump angered many women during his campaign, the organizers say the march will not be a protest against Trump or the legitimacy of his election. Instead, it is designed to shed light on “women’s issues” such as sexual assault and workplace discrimination. Republican Trump’s opponent in the November election, Democrat Hillary Clinton, would have been the nation’s first female president. He had been widely criticized for statements that women’s advocates said were disrespectful of women. Since the election of Donald Trump, there has been much debate about women’s issues across the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the debate and issues. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, giving your view on a women’s issue you think the new president should address.
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.
4. A.I. Ethics Studies
Carnegie Mellon University is creating a research center that focuses on the ethics of artificial intelligence. The K&L Gates Endowment for Ethics and Computational Intelligence at the university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will focus on the right and wrong uses of artificial intelligence. It is being established in a time when faster computer chips, cheaper sensors and large collections of data have helped researchers improve on computerized tasks such as machine vision, speech recognition and problem-solving, as well as robotics. The new center is being started with a $10 million gift from an international law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh. William H. Gates Sr., father of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, was associated with the firm until his 1998 retirement. As A.I. programming becomes more sophisticated, large technology companies have been working on technical guidelines for design and deployment of A.I. systems. Artificial intelligence is one of the most exciting fields in technology and computing. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about efforts to advance artificial intelligence capabilities. Use what you read to write a summary of the effort, what it has accomplished and why it will be important to the field.
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. American Wins Book(er) Prize
For the first time in history, the prestigious Man Booker Prize has been awarded to an American author. Paul Beatty was named winner of this year’s prize for writing “The Sellout,” a blistering satire about race relations in the United States. Until 2014, only writers from the British Commonwealth and Ireland were eligible for the Booker Prize, but it was expanded to include any work in the English language, as long as it was published in Britain. The five London-based judges were unanimous in praise for this year’s winner, citing Beatty’s novel for its inventive, comic approach to the thorny issues of racial identity and injustice. Current events and attitudes often can provide inspiration for books of fiction or nonfiction. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about current events or attitudes that could be the basis of a book. Brainstorm an idea for a book, and whether it would be fiction or nonfiction. Write an outline for the first chapter. Then write the opening paragraph or scene. Share and discuss as a class.
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.