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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 28, 2011

1. Are You Ready for College?

Planning for college is more than taking SAT tests and completing applications. It requires research about the costs associated with attending college. Many parents write the checks, but they often don’t know exactly where their money is going. In North Dakota, parents won’t have that problem any more. A law was passed earlier this year that requires state schools to tell students and parents exactly how student fees are spent. The schools even have to come up with a tuition and fee calculator to help students plan for the cost of an education. Find a newspaper article about colleges, rising costs and state education budgets. Or find information online. Using that information, create a budget with your parents for four years of education at a school you would like to attend, including tuition, fees, room, food, books and incidentals.

Core/National Standard: Knowing that quantities and their relationships in physical, economic, public policy, social and everyday situations can be modeled using mathematical and statistical methods.

2. Senator McCarthy

On December 2, 1954, the U.S. Senate denounced Senator Joseph R. McCarthy for conduct unbecoming a U.S. senator. He had spent years investigating civilians, government workers and military personnel and accusing them of being communists. At hearings he bullied and accused defendants, and in the process destroyed hundreds of reputations. He was in turn investigated, and it was shown that for all his finger-pointing he didn't have proper proof to support his charges. His tactics of intimidation became known as McCarthyism. Modern leaders in some countries still use intimidation to control people or exercise power. Find such a leader in the newspaper, magazines or online. Compare the tactics of the modern-day leader to Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Core/National Standard: Analyzing key decisions by drawing appropriate historical analogies.

3. The Occupy Fallout

People in the United States are taking to the streets in large numbers to let government and business leaders know how unhappy they are with the state of economic affairs in the country. The most visible movement has been the Occupy Wall Street protest, which seeks greater economic fairness in the country and asks for financial accountability from financial institutions, large corporations and government. The Occupy movement spread from New York City across the country, and people in cities around America have been protesting. An 84-year-old woman in Seattle was pepper-sprayed by police in the face along with a woman who is three months pregnant. Search your newspaper for articles about the Occupy movement around the country. As a class, debate the pros and cons of the movement and the reactions of law enforcement and police.

Core/National Standard: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement, and when warranted, qualifying or justifying their views and understanding of a topic.

4. From Mountain to Mole Hill

Adam Slack came face to face with mortality, thanks to a blunt emergency room doctor. Slack, who tipped the scales at 585 pounds, had nearly passed out during a shift as a security guard. The doctor came into the emergency room and asked Slack, “What would you like in your obituary?” Slack yelled at the doctor to get out of the room, but when the doctor came back two hours later, Slack had changed his tune. The doctor’s bluntness inspired Slack to lose 376 pounds by getting off the couch, starting an exercise regime and eating healthier. He is now 209 pounds, wears Size 34 pants and coaches his son’s baseball team. Search the newspaper for articles on obesity and healthy lifestyles. Or find examples online. Using the articles as examples, write an article for your school newspaper on healthy living.

Core/National Standard: Writing concise arguments introducing precise claims, distinguishing the claims from alternate or opposing claims and creating an organization that establishes clear relationships among the claims, counterclaims, reasons and evidence.

5. Vote for My Candidate

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ran his first campaign ad last week. In it, his approach is “turning President Barack Obama’s words against him,” according to an Associated Press article. He compares Obama’s campaign promises to what he has accomplished in the past three years. Many Americans have complained in the past that campaign ads are more likely to attack the opposition than promote a candidate. In groups of four, search the newspaper for articles about the different candidates, their views and platforms. Choose a candidate you would like to support, and write a script for a campaign ad for your candidate. Then use a digital camera or iPhone to video your ad to share with the class.

Core/National Standard: Making strategic use of digital media in presentations to enhance understanding of finding, reasoning and evidence.