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Lessons for

Grades 1-4
Grades 5-8

Past lessons
for Grades 9-12

Sep. 20, 2021
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Dec. 14, 2020

For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 05, 2020

1. Now, the Vice Presidents

In the first presidential debate, American voters got to see with their own eyes how Donald Trump and Joe Biden conducted themselves and answered questions. This week they’ll get to see and assess the vice presidential candidates, Mike Pence and Kamala Harris. Pence, who is the current vice president, and Harris, a U.S. Senator from California, will face off on national television Wednesday, October 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The presidential debate made headlines as much for name calling as for discussion of the issues facing the nation. The Republican Trump chose a strategy of interrupting and talking over the Democrat Biden, and Biden responded at one point by telling the President to “shut up” so he could answer a question. Experts expect the vice presidential debate to be tamer, but don’t know exactly how it will play out. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about the presidential and vice presidential debates. Pretend you are a political advisor for each candidate and write a strategy memo offering advice on how to follow up the performance of the presidential candidates in the vice presidential debate.

Common Core State Standards: 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. High Court Choice

After nearly four years in office, President Trump points with pride to the impact he has had on the judicial branch of the federal government. With the aid of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump has had nearly 220 judges confirmed for the nation’s federal courts, and he has just nominated a third justice for the U.S. Supreme Court, following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The President’s choice for the position, U.S. Appellate Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, would change the make-up of the High Court for years, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Unlike the liberal Ginsburg, she is a staunch conservative on issues ranging from abortion and health care to religious rights and environmental protections. Though Democrats have protested filling the seat before the outcome of the presidential race is known, the 48-year-old Barrett is expected to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. Outside the courtroom she is a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and the mother of seven children. The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett has caused great debate and discussion in Washington and around the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the issues that are getting the most attention. Use what you read to write an editorial detailing which issues you think the Senate should question her about before voting whether to confirm her.

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. Covid Milestones

The United States and other nations continue to struggle to control the spread of the coronavirus Covid 19. The death toll worldwide has now topped 1-million people, and more than 205,000 have died in the United States. Even with safety measures, the disease continues to spread. More than 7-million people have tested positive for the virus in the United States and nearly 34-million worldwide. Countries that controlled the disease with business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders have seen an upsurge after reopening. Areas in the United States that reopened early have become hotspots for virus infections, including colleges and universities where students returned to campus. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said the United States and other nations must learn from the mistakes made in the first 10 months of the pandemic. “Responsible leadership matters,” he said. “Science matters. Cooperation matters — and misinformation kills.” The coronavirus epidemic continues to be a major story in the United States and around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about steps the U.S. is taking or needs to take to get the virus under control. Write a letter to the editor detailing steps you think need to be taken first, and who needs to take them.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. ‘Garbage Olympics’

Litter and trash are huge pollution problems in many communities. The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has come up with a solution that is both fun and effective. For the last four years, the city has run a Garbage Olympics in which neighborhoods compete to see which can pick up the most trash and litter. KDKA television reported that more than 700 volunteers in 38 neighborhoods took part September 26, and they had a huge impact. The city’s Department of Public Works reported that the “Garbage Olympians” collected more than 1,000 bags of trash, including hundreds of safety masks, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer bottles, plastic gloves and other items connected to the coronavirus epidemic. They also picked up hundreds of car tires, televisions, mattresses and even shopping carts. The neighborhood with the biggest pile of trash won an Oscar the Grouch trophy named for the “Sesame Street” character who lives in a trash can. The city of Pittsburgh came up with the “Garbage Olympics” to provide a fun way to attack a serious problem. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a problem facing your community or state. Brainstorm an idea for a fun way to get people involved in addressing this problem. Prepare a short oral report outlining your idea and why it would be effective. Present your report to classmates or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. ‘Active Inactivity’

Have you ever dreamed of being paid to do nothing? If the answer is “yes,” you might want to consider applying for an “idleness grant” being offered by a university in the European nation of Germany. The University of Fine Arts in the city of Hamburg is offering three $1,900 grants for “doing nothing” in a specific area of interest or activity. The university will choose from proposals based on which are the “most compelling ideas of activities to abstain from” that will reduce “negative consequences on the lives of others?” The best proposals will be featured in an exhibition opening in November. “We want to focus on active inactivity,” the leader of the grant program told UPI News. “[It’s] an experiment with serious intentions — how can you turn a society that is structured around achievements and accomplishments on its head?” The goal of the German grant program is to get people to give up activities that have “negative consequences on the lives of others.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one such activity. Use what you read to write a poem, rap or rhyme on the theme “Doing Nothing Is Better Than Something.” Share with family and friends and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.