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For Grades 9-12 , week of May 11, 2020

1. High Court History

The coronavirus has forced changes in all walks of life. One of the biggest came before the U.S. Supreme Court. For the first time the nation’s highest court heard arguments in a case in a telephone conference call — and for the first time the public was allowed to listen to the proceedings in real time. Historically the High Court has not allowed live television, radio or Internet coverage, and the only people who could observe or hear have been spectators in the court’s 500-seat gallery. The phone call format did change the way the court justices operated. In a break from the past, they took turns asking questions instead of jumping in whenever a question came to mind. They also asked questions in order of seniority. The case that made history before the court examined whether the travel website can trademark its name. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments about some significant cases this month, including whether President Trump has to reveal financial records to investigators and whether electors in the Electoral College have to cast their ballots for the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in their state. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about these and other cases being heard by the Supreme Court. Pick one and write an opinion column arguing how you would rule if you were a justice on the court.

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.

2. City-Wide Testing

One of the big obstacles to fighting the coronavirus is getting people tested to know who has it, who has had in the past, and who has it but does not show symptoms. Without that kind of testing, health experts say it will be impossible to determine how extensively the virus has spread, or could spread in the future. To collect that vital information, the city of Los Angeles, California has announced that every resident will now have access to free coronavirus tests at city-run test sites regardless of whether they have any symptoms. Previously, testing in Los Angeles was limited to individuals showing symptoms, front-line workers and people who live or work at facilities such as nursing homes. “As long as this disease takes lives, we must test,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “ … Don’t wait, don’t wonder and don’t risk infecting others.” The issue of testing remains at the center of discussions about the nation’s efforts to control the coronavirus. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the availability of testing and what health experts have to say about it. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining what states need to do to have sufficient testing for the situation.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. Speedway Graduation

The coronavirus emergency has forced many high schools to cancel graduation ceremonies for fear of creating crowds that could spread the virus. In Fort Worth, Texas, a landmark auto racing site has responded by letting schools use its huge facility to stage graduations after all. The Texas Motor Speedway has partnered with 23 high schools to stage graduation ceremonies that meet safe social distancing requirements yet still give families an event to remember. Students will get to wear graduation gowns and walk across a stage to get their diploma — wearing health safety masks of course. Parents will get to see the milestone event from their cars parked in the infield area inside the racetrack on the Speedway’s 12-story, 218-foot-wide video board, CNN News reported. Texas is one of more than 20 states now lifting coronavirus restrictions. Live graduations have been ruled out by most high schools across the nation, and schools are trying to come up with alternatives. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different alternatives, or alternatives being proposed by your high school. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor offering your views on what alternatives seem most likely to give students and families a memorable experience. Offer ideas of your own if you wish.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. Happy Birthday, Captain!

Last month, a 99-year-old military veteran became a worldwide hero when he raised nearly $40-million for the health care system in the European nation of England by walking back and forth in his garden with his walker. When he turned 100 on April 30, the world said “Thank You” in a really big way to Captain Tom Moore. Military jets flew over his home, England’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Boris Johnson led tributes and children and others sent him more than 150,000 birthday cards. On top of that, a railway train was named after him, and England’s mail service issued a special postmark, stamping letters with his name and birth date. Best of all, he was given an honorary military promotion from captain to colonel by England’s Defense Ministry. Moore, who served in the Asian nation of India during World War II, called the promotion “the icing on the cake.” Communities are doing many different things to honor people for their efforts to combat the coronavirus. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these efforts. With family or friends, brainstorm ways you or your family could honor people who are doing special things to help in the battle against the virus.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

5. NBA Lottery Postponed

The coronavirus emergency has disrupted many activities across America and the world. One of the latest is the NBA draft lottery, which sets the order for teams to pick top players from college and other nations. The pro basketball league has announced the lottery will be postponed indefinitely until it is decided if, and when, the league will complete its suspended regular season. The teams with the worst records in the regular season qualify for the draft lottery, but if the season hasn’t been completed that can’t be decided. Also up in the air is the NBA draft itself, which is scheduled for June 25. With live competition canceled, most of the news in sports is being made off the fields or courts. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of this “off-field” sports news. Use what you read to write a sports column analyzing which off-field news is most important to its sport.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.