For Grades 9-12 , week of May 02, 2016

1. Zika Mosquitoes Farther North

Two mosquito species that carry the dangerous Zika virus inhabit a wider range in North America than previously thought, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. The mosquitoes have been found as far north as New York City and could reach as far north as northern New England. Previous maps compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the two species concentrated in the South. No cases have been reported of anyone contracting Zika from a mosquito bite in the continental United States. Most U.S. cases have involved people who had been to Zika-affected countries. With the new range for the Zika mosquitoes, a CDC spokesperson said the best approach for health officials and the public is to “be prepared, but don’t panic.” The Zika virus has made news around the world because of the risk of birth defects if pregnant women are infected. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the spread of the Zika virus, symptoms and ways to respond. Use what you read to create a public service TV ad highlighting the risks and symptoms. Write an outline for your ad and the opening scene. Include visuals you would use with your ad.

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.

2. China Grounds Activist

Chinese activist Ni Yulan has been honored for bravery by the U.S. State Department for helping families fight eviction from their homes by the Chinese government. But the Asian nation refused to let her travel to the United States to accept her award for being an “international woman of courage.” She was one of 14 people being honored, but Chinese officials refused to grant her a passport, saying she had ties to human rights lawyers being detained by the government in a crackdown on their activities. In addition to helping families forced from their homes for development projects, she had been using social media to draw attention to the detention of the Chinese rights lawyers. China is a communist country and its citizens do not have as many rights as citizens of the United States or other nations. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about lack of political or human rights in China. Use what you read to write a short editorial, outlining ways the U.S. or other nations could pressure or persuade China to grant greater rights in the case you read about.

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. Violence in Chicago

In Chicago, Illinois, this year, violence is occurring at levels that have not been seen for years. In the first quarter of this year, 141 people were killed (up from 82 in the same period last year). In addition, the number of shootings has increased from 359 last year to 677, and the city is on a pace to record more than 500 killings in 2016. This is the situation facing Eddie Johnson, the new interim police superintendent, who has just replaced a superintendent who was dismissed. The surge in violence is “unacceptably high,” Johnson says, while morale among officers in the police department is dipping to new lows. Much of the violence is connected to warfare among gangs using illegally acquired weapons. When there is an outbreak or increase in violence in a city, leaders seek ways to control or reduce it. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about violence in Chicago or another community. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay analyzing approaches you think would be most effective.

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.

4. Few Embrace Health Habits

Everybody knows that a lifestyle for a healthy heart includes healthful eating, not smoking, being physically active and keeping body fat down. But fewer than 3 percent of American adults abide by all four elements, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Survey results reported in the science journal called the Mayo Clinic Proceedings revealed that only 2.7 percent of those studied (1) ate a diet featuring plenty of vegetables, whole grains and minimal saturated fat, (2) got at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise; (3) had a healthy percentage of body fat of up to 20 percent for men and 30 percent for women and (4) didn’t smoke. The lead researcher for the survey said the results were “shocking” and “a wake-up call” for the nation. Being physically active is a key part to having a healthy lifestyle. In the newspaper or online, find and read about activities that could keep people active while having fun or recreation. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper, showcasing different ways to be active and have fun.

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.

5. ‘Tehran? No Thanks.’

On commercial airlines, pilots and stewardesses are ordinarily expected to fly wherever the airlines instruct them to. But traditions in the Middle East have prompted Air France to permit its female employees to turn down the route from Paris, France, to Tehran, Iran, if they object to the Iranian rule that women must wear a headscarf to cover their hair in public. After a management-union meeting, the airline declared its support for the “fundamental principle” of respecting the culture and customs in countries served, but said if a stewardess or female pilot objected to Iranian customs “Air France will offer them the possibility to choose not to fly to Tehran and work on a different flight.” The Paris to Tehran route had been suspended in 2008, but was resumed three times a week in April. Customs in Muslim nations like Iran are very different than those in western nations like the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one or more of these customs. Use what you read to write a poem or creative story about a person from the United States encountering one or more of these customs for the first time. Discuss stories and customs as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; eeffectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

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