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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 11, 2019

1. Fire Tech

All across America, advances in technology are helping scientists better understand the world. In the state of California, technology advances are helping scientists get a better picture of deadly wildfires, and how to fight them. As firefighters battled blazes all over the state in the last month, teams of researchers have been testing a new kind of radar that allows them to see inside the most devastating fires like never before. Researchers hope the radar will yield new information on the inner structure of the blazes and help them develop better ways to track and forecast the movement of big fires. The radar being tested in the wildfires is a more sophisticated type of the Doppler radar used to measure the intensity of weather storms, the Washington Post newspaper reports. The big difference is that the new radar can deliver higher resolution images of the ash and particles inside fires and how they move. The system is also gathering new and valuable information on how fires cast out fiery embers on the wind to grow and expand. The high tech radar being tested in California wildfires is an example of technology being used in a new way to help people or communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another new use of technology. Use what you read to write a consumer column explaining this new technology, how it works and how it is an improvement over previous approaches.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing visual and textual evidence when writing.

2. Housing from LeBron

Basketball star LeBron James has made a lot of money playing in the NBA, and in recent years he has been using it to help the community. Last year, his non-profit foundation opened an I Promise School in his home town of Akron, Ohio to help at-risk students in third and fourth grade get a quality education. Now he has announced his foundation will renovate a 22-unit apartment building to provide safe and supportive housing for families of the school’s students. “We want this place to be their home where they feel safe, supported, and loved, knowing we are right there with them every step of the way,” James said when announcing the project. “There is always more to be done!” James’ foundation is working with the Graduate Hotels company to renovate the historic 1920s building. It is expected to be ready for families by the end of next summer. Celebrities and athletes often form non-profit organizations or foundations to help communities, families or groups working to solve problems. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one celebrity doing this. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining why the celebrity founded the organization, whom it helps, how it operates and why the celebrity’s connection helps the effort. Discuss as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing visual and textual evidence when writing.

3. Screen Time Risks

Children growing up today experience way more “screen time” than children of the past. With smart phones, tablets and televisions in every home, children are being exposed to screens earlier and earlier, sometimes at less than 1 year old. All that screen time may be slowing development of young children, according to a new study — especially in the areas of language, literacy and thinking skills. The study published in the medical journal called JAMA Pediatrics scanned the brains of children 3 to 5 years old to determine the effects of screen time on development. It found that children who used screens more than the one hour per day recommended by children’s doctors had lower development in areas of the brain linked to language and other key skills. More screen time also had negative effects on communication and interaction with others. The impact of screen time on young children is an issue getting more and more attention from health officials. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another health issue getting attention from officials. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing why this issue is important to families and the public and what is being done to address it.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Historic Win

In this month’s elections, candidates came from more diverse backgrounds than ever before. In the state of Maine, a Somali immigrant made history by winning election to the city council in the city of Lewiston — and for overcoming nationwide Internet attacks because she is black, Muslim, a woman, and a refugee. At times, Safiya Khalid told the Washington Post newspaper, “I honestly thought, ‘What did I get myself into?’” Like the rest of Maine, Lewiston is predominantly white (almost 89 percent). Khalid came to the city of 36,000 10 years ago as a refugee from Africa and hoped to be the first Somali-American to win a seat on the city council. When word of her candidacy spread online, Internet trolls from as far away as Alabama and Mississippi targeted her. When it came time to vote, however, the people of Lewiston weren’t influenced by outside opinion. Khalid won her race by a significant margin, and at age 23 may be the youngest person ever to service on the Lewiston City Council. Like Safiya Khalid, candidates with diverse backgrounds found success in this year’s elections. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about such candidates and the successes they achieved. Use what you read to write a political column examining how the diversity of candidates affected American politics in this year’s elections.

Common Core State Standards: Citing visual and textual evidence when writing; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

5. Art and the Courts

Art can change lives, and not just for artists. In New York City, studying art can keep young offenders out of court and avoid a criminal record for minor, non-violent offenses. The opportunity comes through an innovative program called Project Reset, which partners with various museums to keep young offenders out of the criminal justice system for non-violent misdemeanor crimes. With the support of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., the program seeks to get participants to re-assess their goals and choices by studying and creating artworks. It helps them learn “what we can do to change ourselves,” said one participant. “It’s like a second chance,” added another. Project Reset gets participants to use art to learn how they can “change themselves.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person facing problems, challenges or setbacks in their life. Use what you read to create an artwork illustrating how this person could do something to change their life. Give your artwork a title and discuss with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.