Resources for Teachers and Students
, week of
Sep. 02, 2019
1. Landmark Drug Ruling
For the first time ever, a judge has ruled that a major drug company is responsible for contributing to the opioid crisis that is affecting communities across the nation. In a landmark ruling, Judge Thad Balkman of Oklahoma ordered the Johnson & Johnson drug company to pay $572-million in damages for its role in an epidemic that has killed more than 400,000 people in Oklahoma and other states. The state of Oklahoma had sued Johnson & Johnson for deceptively marketing opioid painkillers in a way that led to an epidemic of overdose deaths and addiction. At least 40 other states are considering similar suits against drug companies for their role marketing and distributing opioids. Johnson & Johnson said it would appeal the Oklahoma ruling. In lawsuits and other actions, state governments are taking aim at drug companies for the role they played in the nation’s opioid epidemic. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts by different states to hold drug companies accountable. Use what you read to write an editorial, offering your view on how much responsibility drug companies should bear for the opioid epidemic.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
2. Sailing for Change
Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg has won worldwide recognition as an activist calling attention to global warming. To put a spotlight on the issue, she organized strikes and student walkouts at her school and encouraged “climate strikes” by students around the world. This month, Thunberg will make news again when she speaks at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City on September 23. And she already has made news for the way she traveled to New York from her home country of Sweden in Europe. Instead of flying in a jet whose exhaust emissions would contribute to global warming, she sailed to New York on a solar-powered, non-polluting, “carbon neutral” sailboat. She didn’t pilot the boat named the Malizia II. Those duties fell to captain Boris Herrmann. But she used social media to keep followers informed about the 15-day voyage and used the boat’s sail to spread her message to “Unite Behind the Science” on the issue of global warming. Greta Thunberg has inspired students around the world to take action against global warming. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about teens and other students calling for action on global warming. Use what you read to write a political column, analyzing the impact of having teens and other students involved in efforts to slow or reduce global warming and climate change. How important is it that teens can make the argument that their future lives will be affected by actions taken (or not taken) today?
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
3. Breakthrough Kicker?
Carli Lloyd is one of the world’s great athletes — and a star of the U.S. Women’s World Cup championship team. But could she use her power and skills to kick in the National Football League? Lloyd, who’s 37 years old, opened some eyes this summer when she visited a joint practice of the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens. Working with the kickers of the two teams, she boomed some big-time field goals from long distance, including one that sailed through the uprights from 55 yards out. That’s as long as some NFL kickers can kick, and Lloyd’s performance caused a buzz throughout the sports world. Video of her longest kick went viral on the Internet, and two NFL teams reportedly reached out to offer her a chance to try out. Before the Eagles-Ravens practice, Lloyd had not thought about kicking in the NFL, but the reaction has gotten her thinking. “The more I think about it, this has the chance to be sort of a pioneering moment for women,” she told Pro Football Talk’s Peter King. “ … There is no reason why a woman could not do this.” If Carli Lloyd were to kick in the NFL, she would break new ground in women’s history. What other women are groundbreakers in women’s history? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a woman who is a groundbreaker for women. Brainstorm an idea for a short video or documentary film examining the achievements and historic significance of this woman. Write an outline for your video, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
4. Packing Them In
At Virginia Tech university, the math didn’t add up as the semester started this fall. The popular university found that way more freshmen had accepted offers to attend the school than had been expected — and it had to find a place to put them. The residence halls were overwhelmed, with extra students crammed into rooms designed for just one or two students. So the university turned to local hotels. About 500 freshmen will be housed in two hotels next to the campus after about 1,000 more students than expected accepted admission. While the hotel students will have to travel farther to class, they do get benefits not available to others, including air conditioning, private bathrooms and hotel breakfasts. “That’s good living,” chuckled Michael Frongillo, a new freshman. “That’s the high life.” Universities, businesses and other organizations often have to deal with unexpected challenges. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an organization dealing with such a challenge. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, outlining things other organizations could learn from the response to the situation.
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.
5. Challenging a Festival
All over the world, attitudes about race have been changing — and that has put some traditions in an uncomfortable spotlight. The latest is the Ducasse d’Ath festival in the European nation of Belgium, which has been a yearly tradition in the town of Ath for 600 years. The festival draws thousands of visitors each year and has been cited by the UNESCO culture agency of the United Nations for its “intangible cultural heritage.” It also has drawn criticism because one of its features, a character known as “the savage,” is played by white townspeople in blackface makeup. The savage, which has appeared on a parade float since 1873, is portrayed wearing a large nose ring and a headdress and is wrapped in chains, the Washington Post newspaper reports. According to the town’s website, the savage represents the town’s taste for “exoticism” in the 19th century, but critics say it harks back to Belgium’s history of colonialism and represents a stereotype that is out of place in the 21st century. In the 1880s Belgium colonized what is now the African nation of Congo and used violence to force the Congolese to work rubber plantations. An anti-racism group called the Brussels Panthers is petitioning UNESCO to remove the festival from its cultural heritage list. Many communities and organizations are re-examining long-standing traditions in light of changing racial attitudes. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one such situation. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper analyzing the history of the tradition, how people feel about it now, and what could, or should, be done.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
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