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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 09, 2017

1. Gender Equity in Pay

Efforts to close gender gaps in pay and workforce participation have slowed so dramatically that men and women may not reach economic equality for another 170 years, the World Economic Forum has reported. As recently as last year, the Forum had estimated that it would take 118 years for the gap to close, but progress has decelerated, stalled or reversed throughout the world, the nonprofit observes in its annual gender gap index. The economic gap — measuring how men and women participate in the labor force, earn incomes and achieve job advancement — has reverted to where it was in 2008. Overall, Iceland and Finland ranked highest among 144 nations in equality for education, health, economic opportunity and political empowerment. Gender equality in business, politics and other areas has gotten a lot of attention in the last year. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an issue involving gender equality. Use what you read to write an analysis of the situation, what degree of equality exists, and what is being done (or should be done) to address the situation.

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. Traffic Deaths Climb

Traffic deaths in the United States rose 10.4 percent in the first half of last year, compared with the same period in 2015. The rise continues a steady climb in recent years and has prompted federal officials to announce a “Road to Zero” program that seeks to eliminate traffic deaths by the year 2046. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that Americans drove about 50.5 billion more miles in the first six months of last year, an increase of 3.3 percent over the previous year. Officials said, however, that increased driving could not be pinpointed as the cause of the jump in traffic deaths. Traffic safety is a topic that affects millions of people, and there are many issues that put people at risk. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about traffic safety and issues that put people at risk. Use what you read to design a website that would offer information on these risks. Design the home page to show categories of information you want to highlight. Pick an image to illustrate each category. Then write headlines and text blocks to briefly explain each category.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; 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.

3. Mosques Get Mail Threats

Mosques in at least seven states have been receiving letters advising Muslims to leave the country to avoid extermination. They were virtually identical, one warning that Donald Trump, as president, would “do to you … what Hitler did to the Jews.” Police are investigating the letters as “hate incidents” (activities are not considered “hate crimes” unless they pose a specific threat). States involved include Michigan, California, Ohio, Rhode Island, Indiana, Colorado and Georgia. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked the FBI to investigate. When a group is unfairly targeted or singled out, communities often take steps to show support, offer compassion or ensure fair treatment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how Muslims or other groups have been targeted in public or online in recent weeks in the United States. Use what you read to write an editorial for the newspaper giving your views on ways the community could stand together to oppose unfair treatment.

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. College Flag Protest

At tiny Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, the American flag was lowered to half staff and then removed following the November 8 election, in a protest against the treatment of marginalized people in the United States, particularly non-whites. In response, 300 to 400 protesters waving small American flags gathered on the campus to demand that the school bring back the flag that had flown on the main campus flagpole until November. Removing the flag was an act of disrespect for the sacrifices of veterans, said Army veteran Gamaliel Rosa, who helped organize the protest. College president Jonathan Lash said the flag will be restored eventually. The right to protest is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution in the First Amendment protections for freedom of speech and freedom to assemble. In recent years, people of a wide range of political views have used protests to express their opinions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about various ways people have used to protests to make their views known. Share examples as a class. Then discuss the different approaches and rate which ones you and your classmates thing are the most effective.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Arch Protects Nuke Site

The site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the nation of Ukraine has been covered by a giant, arched shelter that is the world’s largest, land-based, moving structure. First designed more than two decades ago, it has been under construction since 2010. It is meant to prevent further release of toxic materials from the stricken reactor, which still contains 200 tons of deteriorating radioactive fuel. Chernobyl is the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history. Thirty years ago, an explosion and fire at the plant sent plumes of radioactive ash across Europe, forcing mass evacuations and many deaths. The construction of the arched structure at Chernobyl is an example of people trying new things to solve a problem. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read another story about people doing something innovative or new to solve a problem. Use what you read to draw a diagram or chart showing how the innovation works, labeling key aspects.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.