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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 26, 2018

1. Holiday Giving

Each year during the holiday season, people make donations to organizations that do good in the community or the world. These organizations may help children, wildlife, poor people or others in need of support. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about organizations that work to do good in your community, the nation or the world. Pretend you have a lot of money to donate this holiday season. Pick one local organization, one national organization and one worldwide organization you would donate to. For each, write a paragraph explaining why you would support the group’s efforts.

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. Terrible Air

The California wildfires caused widespread damage across huge sections of the state. They also created air pollution that was the worst in the world. At the peak of the fire, Northern California had air so dirty with smoke and fire particles that it was worse than cities with the worst air pollution in the Asian nations of China and India. It was so bad schools and businesses closed, people were urged to stay indoors and the big college football game between the University of California and Stanford was postponed due to conditions in the City of Berkeley. California officials are hoping that rain will clear the air pollution caused by the state’s huge wildfires. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about air quality in California this week. Write a letter to the editor outlining steps California could take to help people deal with air pollution from the fires.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Boost for Students

Paying for college is one of the greatest challenges for families of students who want to continue their education after high school. This is especially true for low- and middle-income students who want to attend top-ranked schools. Thanks to billionaire Michael Bloomberg, that should not be a problem in the future at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Bloomberg has announced he is giving a record $1.8-billion to the university he attended to support financial aid for students who need it. The goal, Bloomberg said, is to replace loans to students with grants they do not have to pay back and make admissions at Johns Hopkins “need blind.” Bloomberg, who graduated from Hopkins in 1964, made his fortune as founder of the Bloomberg media and financial services company. He also was elected to three terms as mayor of New York City. Colleges across the country are starting innovative programs to help students who need financial support to attend. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these efforts. Use what you read to write a consumer column analyzing which of these efforts you think will be the most successful helping college students.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. No ‘Poverty Shaming’

Across the United States, many public and private schools require school uniforms to prevent competition among students to wear high-priced designer brands. In the European nation of England, one school has taken that approach one step further, banning high-priced outer coats students wear in cold weather. The Woodchurch High School has told students they no longer may wear Canada Goose jackets or Moncler and Pyrenex coats. The fur-trimmed Canada Goose parkas can cost up to $1,000 each. School officials said the move was designed to prevent “poverty shaming” of less fortunate students and “ensure everyone feels included.” Many school policies are created to help students feel included and to downplay economic or social differences. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about school efforts to do this with policies or rules. Use what you read to hold a class discussion about which policies are most important. Finish by drafting a letter to your principal suggesting policies you think would promote feelings of inclusion at school.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

5. Peanut Relief

Peanut allergies can be deadly to children and adults, and they don’t ever go away. A new drug now being developed, however, could reduce the risk of deadly reactions. The drug, which has been tested but not approved for distribution, would allow allergy sufferers to tolerate small exposures to peanuts without having a dangerous reaction. It works by exposing people with peanut allergies to small amounts of peanut protein in a way that builds up resistance. It will not cure peanut allergies, but it could provide “lifesaving” relief to people who have to constantly watch what they — and people around them — eat. About one in every 50 American children is allergic to peanuts, the New York Times reports. Peanut allergies are a health risk that affects many children and families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another health risk important to children or families. Use what you read to brainstorm a public service TV ad informing people of key things they need to know about the health risk. Write an outline for your ad, 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.