Resources for Teachers and Students


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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of May 20, 2019

1. Recognition Ban

The use of face recognition technology is growing in everything from Facebook photos to airport security to business identifications and sign-ins. It is an effective way to identify people, but it also raises concerns that it intrudes on their personal privacy. That concern has led the city of San Francisco, California to take the unprecedented step to ban use of face technology by city agencies and police. The ban passed by the city’s Board of Supervisors is the first implemented by a major city and already it is generating debate. Critics of the ban say the technology should be regulated rather than banned outright, because “it is hard to deny that there is a public safety value.” Supporters of the action say governments have a responsibility to guard against “the excesses of technology” that could erode privacy rights. In the Asian nation of China, wide use of facial recognition technology has been criticized for tracking the whereabouts and activities of residents. Face recognition technology is getting greater use and attention in the United States and around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about use of this technology. Use what you read to write a consumer column analyzing the risks and benefits of the technology and how any risks could be reduced.

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.

2. Cap with a Message

When students graduate from high school or college, they often put messages on their commencement caps for family, friends or their community. A graduating senior in the state of Ohio has taken commencement messaging even further. She wants the entire nation to read her message. Gina Warren, 18, created an electronic QR code on her cap that sends readers to a website she had created. The website honors all the students killed in school shootings in the last 20 years. Preventing school violence is an issue she has been passionate about all through her years at Teays Valley High School. On the website, white letters on a black background declare “I graduated. These high school students couldn’t.” She then lists the names of all the shooting victims. “I just want to let everybody know that we should just keep fighting” against school violence, Warren said. “I definitely am going to keep fighting.” Her QR code can be activated by taking a photo of it with a cell phone. Students often put messages on graduation caps to call attention to issues or personal beliefs. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and photos of students doing this. Then create two messages for graduation caps: one calling attention to an issue important to you and one calling attention to your personal beliefs or interests. Share with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

3. A Record Run

The 100-meter dash is one of the most show-stopping events in track and field. This spring, a Texas high school senior became an Internet sensation by breaking the national record not once, but twice. The first record of 9.98 seconds didn’t count because Matthew Boling had a strong breeze at his back. Two weeks later, however, at the Texas state championships, he set the record again by running the distance in 10.13 seconds. Boling’s achievements are even more amazing because this is his first year running the 100. “The … thing about Matthew is … the bigger the stage, the bigger the performance,” said his coach at Houston’s Strake Jesuit High School. “That is just the type of young man he is.” Boling will compete in college at the University of Georgia. Teens often perform amazing feats in sports. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a teen athlete doing something amazing or exceptional. Pretend you are going to interview the athlete for a magazine for younger students. Write out five questions you would like to ask the athlete about how he/she became successful and advice he/she would offer younger students.

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.

4. Tobacco Age Increase

According to U.S. law, you have to be 18 to legally buy cigarettes and other tobacco products. But with teen smoking on the rise, many health leaders feel the age limit should be even higher. Those leaders got a boost in support this month when the giant Walmart company said it was raising the age limit for tobacco products to 21 at its 5,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. To reduce teen purchases, the company said it would also eliminate sales of fruity flavored e-cigarettes. The changes will take effect July 1, company officials said. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.9-million minors said they used tobacco products last year, a 36 percent increase from the year before. “Preventing the sale of tobacco products to minors is critical,” a Walmart spokesman said. “Even a single sale of a tobacco product to a minor is one too many.” Communities across the nation are looking for ways to discourage the use of tobacco products and e-cigarettes among teenagers. Divide into teams or pairs and use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories about different ideas that are being tried. Use what you read and personal knowledge to design an ad campaign to discourage teens from using tobacco products or e-cigarettes. Create a motto for your campaign that will get students’ attention.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

5. What a Change!

Many people say they want to change their lives, but few do it as dramatically as an Ohio teenager did. Two years ago, Michael Watson was overweight and lacked self-confidence. Then he decided to do something about it. He started walking to school, 20 minutes each way, and adjusted the way he ate. He walked in the rain and he walked in the snow, and the pounds started to drop off, CNN News reported. His weight went from a peak of 335 pounds to about 220 today. Now 18, the 6’4” Watson says he has gained confidence in everything from asking girls on dates to trying his hand at acting. The key is setting goals and sticking to them, he says. “Anybody can do it if they put their mind to it,” he told CNN. His school is using his achievement to inspire other students. “It’s an example of courageous personal development that’s rare,” said one school counselor. Changing behavior and habits is hard, even when it’s important. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people who would benefit from a change of behavior. Choose two or three and write an advice column for the newspaper, suggesting ways each person could change his/her behavior for the better.

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.