Resources for Teachers and Students

For Grades 9-12 , week of Apr 13, 2020

1. Clarity for Democrats

The Democratic race for president essentially ended last week when Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out. Sanders’ decision to “suspend” his campaign cleared the way for frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden to win the nomination — and seek to unify the party in its goal to defeat President Trump in November. Sanders and Biden were the last major candidates to remain in the race, though Biden had built up a big lead in nominating delegates with primary election wins in Michigan, Florida, South Carolina and the 10 states he won on “Super Tuesday.” “I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful,” Sanders said to supporters in announcing his decision. “… I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win.” In his withdrawal speech, Bernie Sanders did not endorse Joe Biden for president, but he has said in the past he will support the Democratic Party’s nominee. Biden has said he wants to reach out to Sanders’ supporters to unify the party. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts to unify the Democratic Party in its effort to defeat President Trump. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing what the biggest challenges are to getting Sanders supporters to support Biden, and what steps he is taking to reach out to them.

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. Chinese Go Outside

The coronavirus outbreak got its start in the Asian nation of China, forcing the country of 1.4-billion people to shut down businesses and order people to shelter in place at home. Last week, Chinese officials lifted rules requiring people to “self-quarantine,” and millions of Chinese eagerly headed outdoors again. Parks and landmarks were packed, and city cafes and restaurants did a steady stream of business. In recent weeks Chinese officials have said the rate of infection has slowed greatly, but some worry that the number of people surging to get outside could pose a risk of recurrence. “China is not near the end, but has entered a new stage,” a leader of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention told the Health Times. “With the global epidemic raging, China has not reached the end.” The People's Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, was even blunter, warning residents and tourists: “Do not gather!” Health officials around the world will be closely watching what happens in China now that “self-quarantine” regulations have been lifted. They want to see if there is a recurrence of virus infections before lifting quarantine regulations of their own. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about China’s decision to lift quarantine regulations. Use what you read to write an analysis of what has happened as a result and what officials in the U.S. and other nations are saying about it.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

3. A Huge Help

As the coronavirus has spread across the nation, thousands of people have stepped up to help others. Few efforts are having the impact of action taken by a New York City landlord. Mario Salerno, who owns 18 buildings in the city’s Brooklyn neighborhood, has told tenants they do not have to pay rent for the month of April. New York has been hit harder than any other city by the coronavirus, and shutdown orders have left businesses closed and employees out of work. That’s what led Salerno to cancel rent for April for residents of his buildings. Though he will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars he said he was more concerned about the health and welfare of his tenants. “My concern is everyone’s health,” he told the New York Times. “I told them just to look out for your neighbor and make sure that everyone has food on their table.” The coronavirus is having a huge impact on businesses, jobs and the nation’s economy. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about people helping others deal with the economic impact of the virus. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, commending some of these people for finding ways to help.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

4. Front Line Work

Leaders of the world’s nations have a great deal to do to fight the spread of the coronavirus. But the leader of the European nation of Ireland has decided he wants to do even more. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who is a trained physician, has re-registered as a doctor and will come out of retirement to help in his nation’s battle with the virus. Varadkar has volunteered to work one day a week for Ireland’s Health Service Executive, in addition to his duties as prime minister. The Irish Times newspaper reported he is expected to conduct screening calls for those who may have been exposed to the coronavirus before they visit medical facilities. Varadkar practiced medicine for seven years before going into politics. Many doctors and nurses are coming out of retirement to join the fight against the coronavirus. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of them. Write a public proclamation thanking these medical professionals for their service. Use the Internet to look up proclamations if you need to see how they are written. They often use the word “Whereas” to introduce reasons that the person(s) are to be honored.

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.

5. Doggie Delivery

It’s often said that dogs are “man’s best friend,” and that’s certainly the case for wine lovers in the city of Hagerstown, Maryland. An 11-year-old boxer has become an attraction and community hero because he has learned to deliver bottles of wine from the Stone House Urban Winery to customers waiting in their cars. The dog, a brindle-colored pooch named Soda Pup, is outfitted with a harness that can hold two bottles at a time, and he seems to have learned it’s good to allow customers to practice safe social distancing. In a matter of weeks, Soda Pup has become something of a celebrity for his delivery skills. “We’ve had people call in just specifically to have Soda Pup bring wine out to them, people who have never even been here before,” winery co-owner Lori Yata told TV station WJLA. He’s “actually getting quite good,” she added, “as long as there are no bunnies, or geese, or other critters to distract him.” Animals can be trained to do many unusual or useful things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such animals. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a creative story based on the skills these animals have learned. Tell the story from the point of view of the animals. Give your story a creative title.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.