, week of
Feb. 13, 2017
1. President Trump
As a candidate for president, Donald Trump vowed he would “shake things up” in Washington, D.C. if elected. He has certainly done that. In his first weeks of office he has announced new policies on immigration and health care, fired the acting attorney general when she refused to implement his immigration ban on refugees from Muslim nations, and repeatedly attacked the news media for being “dishonest.” Many of his actions have been taken in the form of Executive Orders, which do not require the approval of senators or representatives in the U.S. Congress. Every president has used Executive Orders, but their power is not unlimited. Some changes still require votes by members of Congress. But Executive Orders can set the tone or agenda for a president by showcasing actions he wants to take. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about Executive Orders issued by President Trump, and how they have been received. Use what you read to write a short editorial giving your opinion on how much you think a president should use Executive Orders when making policy.
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.
2. Jailers Abusing Mentally Ill
Mentally ill inmates are abused physically by guards in U.S. prisons, a Human Rights Watch report contends. Abuses include being doused with chemical sprays, shocked with electronic stun guns and strapped to furniture for hours, the rights group says. Those suffering from serious mental illnesses are often punished physically for commonplace behaviors, such as profanity and banging on cell doors, the report says. The report faults prisons for failing to offer adequate mental health treatment; for doing too little to protect the mentally ill from physical abuse by staff members; for not adequately training staff to deal with the mentally ill, and for leadership that is not sufficiently focused on mental health issues. People who have mental health issues often need special services or treatments. But publicly funded institutions like prisons often do not have the money or leadership to provide those services. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about the availability or need for mental health services in a community. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor summarizing one service that is needed and how it could be provided.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Meat Eaters
Do people who consume protein from meat have a higher mortality rate than those who get protein from plants? Apparently so, but not all meats. Scientists note that chicken and fish, for example, carry a much lower mortality risk than red and processed meats. Analyses of two recent studies found that a 10 percent increase in protein from animals results in a 2 percent increase in mortality overall (8 percent from heart disease). Those with a 3 percent increase in proteins consumed from plants show a 10 percent DECREASE in mortality (12 percent from heart disease), according to the survey from Massachusetts General Hospital. Issues involving healthy foods and diets are often in the news because many people want to live healthier lives. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one way to eat a healthier diet. Use what you read to design a public service ad for the newspaper, highlighting the key points. Use images from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your poster.
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.
4. Lake Erie Crisis
Lake Erie is one of America’s five Great Lakes, but it is in trouble. And the situation is getting worse, experts agree, because efforts to address a huge pollution problem have fallen woefully short. The problem has been caused by runoff of phosphorus fertilizers from farms, pollution from cattle feedlots and leaky septic systems. As a result, thick mats of algae choke the Great Lakes — and other polluted waterways — every summer. Much of the algae is poisonous to humans and animals. The situation got so bad that the Ohio city of Toledo at one point instituted a temporary ban on drinking water drawn from Lake Erie. Pollution is a problem in many communities because it contaminates air, water and land areas. Use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about one form of pollution. Use what you read to create a series of comic strips explaining the problem and what could be done to correct it.
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.
5. 76 Million Struggling in U.S.
Wages are finally rising, unemployment is low and inflation is muted, but 76 million Americans — 31 percent — say they are struggling just to get by, according to the Federal Reserve Bank’s annual survey. Almost half, 46 percent, said they can’t cover a $400 emergency expense from savings — even some middle class and wealthy citizens (19 percent of those earning more than $100,000 a year). Only 23 percent expect their income to rise this year, and many Americans want to work more. At the same time, more adults say they are living comfortably or doing OK, and just over half say the value of their home is increasing. The health of the nation’s economy depends on people having good jobs, making good salaries and spending money on goods created and sold by businesses. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the health of the U.S. economy. Use what you read to create an oral report or multi-media presentation detailing key things to look for in the year ahead. Discuss reports with classmates.
Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.