For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 23, 2015

1. Terrorism Alert

The extremist attacks in Paris, France, have put nations around the world on heightened alert to detect and prevent acts of terrorism. President Obama called the Paris assault “an attack not just on the people of France, but … on all of humanity” and declared that the Islamic State terrorists violated “the universal values that we share.” French President Francois Hollande called the strikes “an act of war” and followed up by authorizing bombing strikes against Islamic State targets in the Middle East nation of Syria. The attacks at six sites across Paris on November 13 left at least 129 people dead and 352 injured — the deadliest violence in France since World War II ended 70 years ago. In the newspaper or online, follow news coverage of the latest developments in the response to the Paris terrorism attack. Closely read stories about who was responsible, steps that are being taken to track the terrorists and actions taken by France and other nations against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Use what you read to write an essay or newspaper editorial detailing your views on how the world should respond to the tragedy.

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. Raise Smoking Age?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes be raised to 21 across the United States. Also, the group that represents doctors of children and teens called on the federal government to regulate e-cigarettes, just as it regulates other tobacco products. In the medical journal Pediatrics, the group detailed measures to decrease adolescents’ attraction to smoking, in the hope that “slightly older young adults may choose to forgo tobacco products.” Currently, only Hawaii and about 90 American cities have a minimum age of 21 for buying cigarettes and tobacco products. Medical research has detailed many ways that smoking can be a health hazard, yet teens and young adults still take up the habit. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about the dangers of smoking and the number of teens choosing to smoke. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a TV ad or a short video to persuade teens not to smoke. Write a outline for your ad or video, and then draft the first scene.

3. Self-Driving Car Pulled Over

One of Google’s experimental self-driving cars was pulled over by police in California recently — for driving too slowly. Police in Mountain View, where Google’s headquarters are located, pulled the car over because it was traveling 24 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone — creating a long traffic backup. There was no traffic infraction, so no ticket was issued. Google, which is branching out from Internet services to cars of the future, says its self-driving cars have gone 1.2 million miles without receiving a ticket. The driving too slow incident, however, serves as a reminder that while these may be the cars of the future, there are unresolved issues today. Google’s effort to develop driverless cars is an example of a company using technology to do new things that could change the way people live. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another new use of technology. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper, illustrating how this new use could change the way people live and work.

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.

4. A Pardon for Helping Slaves

A free black man convicted of helping slaves escape to freedom in the 19th century is being pardoned 152 years after his death by Governor Jack Markell of Delaware. He was Samuel Burris, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, who died in 1863. In 1847, Burris was caught helping a slave try to escape and was sentenced to be sold into slavery himself for period of seven years. An antislavery society raised money to purchase him, however, and set him free. At great personal risk, he continued to help slaves escape, but eventually left Delaware to escape a sentence of being lashed with a whip. Samuel Burris worked to help others at great risk to himself. Around the world, people still take great risks to help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one person doing this. Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper, thanking the person for taking action, and describing how his/her actions could be an inspiration to others.

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

5. Ten Commandments Monument Moved

A monument featuring the Ten Commandments of the Bible has been removed from the grounds of Oklahoma’s Capitol Building and moved to a privately-owned property a few blocks away. Protestors had said the government display violated the First Amendment’s prohibition of any “law respecting an establishment of religion.” Courts have prohibited such displays in several states, while allowing others to stay if they have broader cultural importance. Some Oklahoma lawmakers want to amend the state constitution to allow the monument to be returned. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution contains some of Americans’ most important rights. As a class, read the First Amendment. Then use the newspaper and Internet to find and read stories involving each of the Amendment’s five rights. Design a poster displaying the rights and the cases that illustrate them.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

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