For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 26, 2015

1. A Tony for the Teacher

A new Tony Award — the first since 2009 — will be given annually to a theater teacher who has made a “monumental impact” on students. Nominees must be currently teaching at a school or community theater group in the United States. Each year the Tony Awards honor the best performances in Broadway theater in New York City. Many Tony winners — actors, writers and directors — have expressed appreciation for drama teachers who inspired them. The winner will receive the award onstage at the annual Tony ceremony in June. Teachers can make a big difference in the lives of students. In teams or pairs, brainstorm an idea for an award to honor teachers in some way. Then pick a teacher to be the first honoree for your award. Write a news story or letter to the editor of the newspaper announcing your award and giving reasons for the choice of your first winner.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; 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.

2. More Low-Income Pupils

More than half the students attending our nation’s public schools — 51 percent — are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, compared to 38 percent in 2000, the Southern Education Foundation reports. This means there are more students who are part of low-income families. Analyzing data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the report concludes that a majority of students in 21 states are poor financially. The Obama administration has indicated that it will request an additional $1 billion for a program that funnels money to schools with high percentages of low-income students. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about challenges faced by low-income families and proposals to provide help or assistance. After closely reading the stories, write a short editorial for the newspaper outlining one or two ideas to provide help. Use details from your reading to support your arguments.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; 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. Most TV Directors White & Male

Of the 479 first-time directors hired to work on TV series in the last five years, 82 percent were men and 87 percent were white. This was disclosed by the Directors Guild of America, reporting on a study it had authorized. “There’s a big opportunity here for those in charge of hiring to make a difference,” said the organization’s president, Paris Barclay, a director who is African American. “But they’re not.” Minorities and women have made gains in many fields in the United States, but still face an uphill struggle in others. In the newspaper, find a story about a career field you feel would benefit from having more minorities and women. Read the story closely and conduct additional research about the number or percentage of women and minorities in the field. Then use what you have read to brainstorm an idea for a TV commercial or documentary to increase opportunities for minorities and women in the field. Write an outline for your video and the points you would like to make. Then pick an actor or actors you think would be effective as a narrator or spokesperson in your video. Write a paragraph explaining your choices.

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. News Media Drones

Ten news media companies have formed a coalition to test the use of small, unmanned aircraft systems (drones) to gather news. The news media group is working with Virginia Tech in what the Associated Press describes as “exploring … drone technology for news-gathering purposes.” Virginia Tech leads the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership established by Congress to collect data on drones. Besides AP, the coalition includes Advance Publications, A.H. Belo, Gannett, Getty Images, NBC Universal, the New York Times, E.W. Scripps, Sinclair Broadcast Group and the Washington Post. Non-military uses of drones have been getting greater attention over the last year. In the newspaper or online, find a story about drone use. From what you read, write a summary of the use, including benefits and risks that might result for the public.

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. Romney May Run Again

Republican Mitt Romney has repeatedly said he would not run again for president, but he may be changing his mind. The former Massachusetts governor, who was unsuccessful in 2012 against President Obama, has said he is “thinking about it.” Romney met recently with about 30 top fund-raisers and donors from his 2012 campaign in the Manhattan office of former New York Jets owner Woody Johnson. This would be Romney’s third bid for the White House. The next presidential election is not until November 2016, but possible candidates already are exploring whether they should run. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about possible presidential candidates. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper, examining the views and prospects of leading candidates.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

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