For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 02, 2015

1. Ocean Extinctions

Scientists fear that today’s ocean wildlife are facing the same pressures that led to the extinction of many land animals when the world industrialized in the 1800s. In the journal Science, the researchers note that ocean life was not affected by the Industrial Revolution because fishing was still performed in smaller areas close to shore, but “a lot has changed.” To keep the oceans relatively healthy for wildlife, the scientists suggest declaring larger areas off limits to fishing, mining and industrial development. Otherwise, they warn, “we are setting ourselves up in the oceans to replay the … armageddon that we engineered on land.” Protecting wildlife is an issue important to people all over the world. As a class, discuss different reasons people feel this way. Then find and read a story about a wildlife species in the newspaper or online. Use what you read to write a paragraph detailing three reasons people might want to protect this species.

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.

2. Smokers & Male Chromosomes

Men who smoke cigarettes lose male chromosomes more often than men who are nonsmokers, a new study has revealed — and the heavier they smoke, the fewer they are left with. Researchers reporting in the journal Live Science speculate that this may explain why male smokers are at a higher risk of cancer than females who smoke. Loss of the male Y chromosome in the blood cells has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, the researchers note. A reduced number of Y chromosomes also is more common in older men than in those who are younger. The risks of smoking are a health issue that is often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about another health issue important to families. Read the story closely and design a poster highlighting its most important points.

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

3. China President to visit U.S.

China’s president, Xi Jinping, will make his first state visit to the United States in the spring. Besides visiting President Obama in the White House, he will attend United Nations events in New York City. The Chinese and U.S. presidents have been in touch with each other by telephone in advance of the visit, the White House has announced. They have discussed a variety of issues, including climate change, Iran’s nuclear program and China’s currency policy. The Asian nation of China is the world’s fastest growing economy, giving China increased influence with other nations. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about the Chinese economy, products or influence in the world. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining things you think President Obama should discuss with the Chinese president.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. Fighting Extremism

President Obama has urged an international fight against violent extremism that would feature increasingly sophisticated appeals to the world’s young people to counter the ideologies of the Islamic State and other groups. He made the plea while addressing community activists, religious leaders and law enforcement officials at a conference in Washington that was prompted by a new wave of terrorist attacks around the world. Without singling out Muslims or jihadists, Obama said the world faces a “generational challenge” to defeat terrorism. And while militant Muslims have been the target of criticism by world leaders, Obama said “We are not at war with Islam … [but] with people who have perverted Islam.” Efforts to battle terrorism involve many nations. In the newspaper or online, read about a current or proposed plan to counter terrorism. Write a paragraph or short essay analyzing the plan and whether you think it can be successful.

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; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Walmart to Raise Wages

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, is raising wages for a half-million employees, reflecting a decrease in unemployment and the retail chain’s trouble retaining personnel in a job market where competitors are paying more. By April, all Walmart employees will be earning at least $9 an hour; by the following February, $10. Walmart has long been criticized for its low pay and its reliance on part-time workers. Some labor advocates, who have urged $15 an hour for service workers, call the Walmart plan inadequate because Walmart still lags behind other major retailers. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Jobs, wages and employment issues often are in the news, because they affect so many people. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about jobs, wages or employment rates. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips illustrating how the news will affect families or workers.

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

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