For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 19, 2016

1. Candidate ‘Flaws’

The 2016 presidential race is causing uncertainty and concern among some voters, who say they don’t like either Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton. Such voters say they are having trouble deciding how to vote, because they feel both candidates have “flaws” in character, approach or personal history. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories discussing the “flaws” of the candidates, in the view of voters or commentators. Use what you read to write a political analysis of the “flaws” of each candidate, how they compare, and what effect they could have on the outcome of the race. In your analysis, include what options people have in deciding how to vote.

Common Core State Standards: 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.

2. Hackers Target U.S. Voting

Speaking of the election, hackers have targeted voter registration systems in at least two U.S. states — Arizona and Illinois. In both states, the attempt was not particularly successful, but the FBI is warning states to be on the alert. Arizona shut down its voter registration system for a week before concluding that although the threat was “credible” and severe, the hackers had limited success, at best. An Illinois Board of elections official said it was “a highly sophisticated attack most likely from a foreign entity.” The FBI says it suspects Russians, who are believed to have previously hacked the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee. Computer hacking can pose a risk to individuals, governments and businesses. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about hacking risks, and steps that are being taken to protect against hacking. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining how government, businesses or individuals can guard against computer hacking.

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.

3. Teen Helps with Mars Project

Ever since he was 5, teenager Alex Longo has been a fan of NASA’s space explorations and maintained close contact with the space agency. Now NASA has invited 16-year-old Alex to help choose a landing site for the next Rover mission to Mars in 2020. Two years ago, NASA asked for proposals about landing sites and Alex sent one. He was invited to the first landing site meeting, made a presentation and drew applause from the scientists there. That was two years ago, and because one of his proposals is among the eight still under consideration, Alex has been teamed up with Mars scientists to work on the project. America’s NASA space agency has high interest in the planet Mars because it is believed life could once have existed there. With the newspaper or the website www.nasa.gov, find and closely read stories about Mars. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short video or film, detailing one mission and what it hopes to achieve. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use.

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.

4. Georgetown’s Slave Past

Acknowledging its role in the slave trade before the U.S. civil war, Georgetown University is taking steps to atone for the past, including preferential treatment in the admissions process to descendants of slaves. The university plans a formal apology, creation of an institute for the study of slavery and a memorial to slaves who benefited the Washington, D.C. school, including those sold in 1838 to keep it afloat during a financial crisis. In addition, two campus buildings will be renamed — one for a slave and one for an African-American educator. Several universities have recognized their ties to slavery and the slave trade, but no others have offered preferential admissions. The measures were announced by Georgetown’s president. Many universities and institutions are revisiting their histories with regard to slavery, the slave trade and the treatment of African Americans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one of these efforts. Use what you read to write a letter to the school or institution, giving your view on what it should do.

Common Core State Standards: 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.

5. Flights Link U.S., Cuba

The first passenger jet service ever between Cuba and the United States has begun, with Jet Blue offering daily, scheduled round-trip flights between Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Santa Clara, Cuba. It’s been more than a half-century since regular air service was last available between the two countries, and jet planes were not yet in the skies back then. This is another in a series of steps reconnecting the peoples of the two nations, after a 57-year rift caused by the establishment of a communist government in Cuba in 1959. Six U.S. airlines have been approved for flights to nine Cuban cities, and up to 90 daily round-trip flights are anticipated. Cuba is often in the news, now that the United States is working to re-establish relations with the nation south of Florida in the Caribbean Sea. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about Cuba and what life is like there. Use what you read to write a creative short story “If I Could Go to Cuba…”

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.

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