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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 11, 2021

1. Oil Spill

Oil spills are one of the worst dangers for oceans and sea life. They not only pollute the ocean water, they can foul beaches and shorelines, kill fish and sea birds and coat larger marine animals with thick goo that they can’t remove without human help. The state of California is now grappling with the effects of an oil spill that has turned miles of beautiful beaches into cleanup zones. The spill from a ruptured pipe has released nearly 150,000 gallons of crude oil into the waters off the community of Huntington Beach in Southern California, soiling beaches with smelly oil and tar balls and threatening wetland areas that are habitats for migrating birds, CNN News reported. Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency due to the spill, declaring that the state will “mobilize all available resources to protect public health and the environment.” It is not yet known how many fish, birds and animals have died as a result of the spill. Oil spills present great dangers and cleanup challenges when they occur. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about oil spills that have occurred in the United States and around the world. Use what you read to write an editorial detailing how different nations or communities have dealt with spills and the long-term effects.

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

2. Too Much Weight

More and more Americans are gaining weight, and it could put their health at risk for years to come. According to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 35 percent of adults are now severely overweight, or obese, in 16 states. That is an increase from just nine states that were at the 35 percent level two years earlier, health officials said. Overall, the latest statistics show that about 42 percent of the U.S. population is obese, and more than 20 percent of adults are obese in all 50 states. Obesity is also on the rise among children and teens, according to a separate report from the CDC. It found that 22 percent of youths ages 2 to 19 were obese in August 2020, up from 19 percent a year earlier, with the greatest increase among children 6 to 11. Obesity can lead to an array of health problems, including an increased risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver problems, arthritis, some cancers and depression, the Washington Post newspaper reported. Overeating and lack of physical activity are the most common causes. Getting healthy exercise is a key to losing weight and keeping weight off, health experts say. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about three ways to get exercise that would not involve organized sports. Write a letter to a friend inviting him or her to participate in these activities that would be both fun and healthy. For each, tell how being active in that would be beneficial. Activities do not have to be strenuous but should be things you could do regularly.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Afghan Art Fears

When the extremist Taliban group returned to power this summer in the Asian nation of Afghanistan, leaders quickly moved to establish greater controls on women, politics and education. Now Afghanistan’s artistic community is fearing a crackdown on culture as well. To protect cultural items — and themselves — some Afghans are burying paintings, books or films, or hiding them away, the Washington Post newspaper reports. They fear the Taliban’s embrace of harsh Muslim sharia law will place huge restrictions on artists and culture as it did when the Taliban was last in power 20 years ago. At that time Taliban leaders banned television, radio, movies and the Internet; destroyed television sets, videocassette recorders, cameras, videos and satellite dishes; and gave public beatings to artists or cultural leaders who violated sharia restrictions. Artists in Afghanistan fear the Taliban will severely restrict culture in the way it did when it was last in control. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about tighter controls being planned or put in place by the Taliban. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor suggesting ways the United States or other nations could negotiate with the Taliban to prevent the kind of tight restrictions that the group put in place the last time it was in power.

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. Great Businesswomen

Every year women make history in the world of business. This year, three made history in Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women list for leading health-related companies during the coronavirus epidemic. Number 1 on the Fortune Most Powerful list is Karen Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of CVS Health, which took a lead role in responding to the coronavirus by delivering virus tests and vaccines. Number 6 on the list is Rosalind Brewer, CEO of the Walgreens Boots Alliance, which owns the pharmacy chains Walgreens and Boots that delivered vaccines. Number 7 is Gail Boudreaux, President and CEO of Anthem, a major provider of health insurance in the United States. Brewer is one of just two Black women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. The other is Thasunda Brown Duckett (Number 10), president and CEO of the investment firm TIAA. Also of note on this year’s list is Number 2-ranked Jane Fraser, the CEO of Citigroup and the first female chief of a major Wall Street bank. Women are becoming leaders at the local, state and national levels in the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories of a powerful or successful woman in business at all three levels. Use what you read to prepare a chart or poster comparing their achievements and highlighting common challenges they had.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

5. Ancient Eagle

Like other birds, raptors like eagles and hawks are now believed to have descended from two-legged dinosaurs that lived millions of years ago. Now fossil hunters in the southern Pacific nation of Australia have found what they believe to be one of the oldest raptor species in the world. The fossil found at a remote cattle station in South Australia is a new species of eagle that lived about 25-million years ago, palaeontologists announced in a study published in the journal Historical Biology. The eagle, which was about the size of a modern bald eagle, had features unlike any seen in modern hawks and eagles, the Guardian newspaper reported. Its feet were farther apart than modern birds, to give it greater strength for capturing prey. Its wings were relatively short for its size, but its legs were long, suggesting was built to fly through forests. More than 60 bones of the ancient eagle were recovered, making it one of the best preserved eagle fossils ever found. Fossil discoveries cause scientists to re-think what they know about ancient species. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a fossil discovery that is causing scientists to do this. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper describing this new discovery and how it is making scientists re-think what they know about ancient species.

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; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.