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For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 04, 2019

1. Oscar Firsts

The 2019 Oscars are history now, and they made history in the diversity among this year’s winners. After drawing criticism for being #Oscarstoowhite, the Academy made milestone choices in a number of categories. Two women who worked on “Black Panther” became the first African American women to win Oscars in their fields — Ruth Carter for Costume Design and Hannah Beachler for Production Design. Mahershala Ali became the first African American to win two Oscars in the same category after taking Best Supporting Actor for his work in the Best Picture “Green Book.” Noted African American director Spike Lee won his first competitive Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for his “BlacKKKlansman.” And Rami Malek became the first Egyptian American to win as Best Actor for “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The Oscars achieved new milestones for diversity and opportunity this year. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an organization in another field achieving milestones for diversity and opportunity. Or read about an organization that has set a goal for greater diversity or opportunity. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay, analyzing how the achievement or goals will benefit the organization — and benefit the greater community.

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. Read, Read, Read!

March is National Reading Month, and all over the country students, schools and families have set a goal to get students to read at least 15 minutes a day. Many are reading books, of course, but there are many other sources of great reading material. Newspapers, websites, social media and even advertising can provide reading that can keep you informed or entertained. Everything you read improves your vocabulary and helps you understand how people communicate, so there is no such thing as bad reading. To mark National Reading Month, use the newspaper and Internet to read at least 15 minutes a day. Read news and opinion materials about issues that are important to you and your family. Keep a log of your reading, noting what you learned about the issues by reading — and how reading opinion pieces gives you different benefits than reading straightforward news reports.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

3. A First for Women

In the Middle East nation of Saudi Arabia, great restrictions are placed on the rights of women. They have had to battle to attend sports events and drive cars, and they still must be accompanied by a male relative when they move in public. Against that history, it was remarkable that Saudi Arabia announced it was appointing its first female ambassador to a foreign nation. Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud, a former business executive, has been named ambassador to the United States. Princess Reema’s father, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, also was Saudi ambassador to the United States, serving for 22 years until he retired in 2005. Like her father, Reema was educated in the United States and lived in America for more than 20 years. She supports women’s driving rights and loosening of male guardian rules. “I think we need to keep pushing forward,” she says. The appointment of Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud is a milestone for women’s rights. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story from the United States or another nation about another milestone for women’s rights. Write a short editorial analyzing why this milestone is important for women, their nation and the world.

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.

4. Diet Drink Risk?

In an effort to lose weight or stay thin, teen girls and young women often choose diet drinks over those that contain sugar. But that choice may pose a risk if continued for a lifetime. A new medical study has found that women who drink two or more diet beverages a day increase their risk of having a stroke by 23 percent. The study was based on health information gathered from nearly 82,000 women 50 and older over a 12-year period. The researchers compared women who drank two daily diet sodas or fruit drinks with those who drank such beverages less than once a week or not at all. In addition to increased risk for stroke, the study found that women who consume diet drinks have a 29 percent greater chance of developing heart disease. Health studies and research are often in the news because they affect so many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a health study that could be important to teens, families or young adults. Use what you read to write a health column for the newspaper, outlining the most important points people should understand about the study, including uncertainties about the information or things that may not yet be known.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; 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.

5. Rare Tortoise Not Extinct

A tortoise feared extinct after not being seen for more than 110 years has been found alive in the Galapagos islands off the coast of South America. A female of the Fernandina giant tortoise species was found this winter in a remote section of the Galapagos island of Fernandina. Even more encouraging, wildlife experts think there may more members of the rare species on the island because of tortoise tracks and droppings that were found. The Associated Press news service reported the newly discovered female, which may be more than 100 years old, was taken to a breeding center for giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos. Scientists are constantly monitoring wildlife species that could become extinct. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about species scientists feel could become extinct. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper comparing the situations of two species, and which faces the greater risk of extinction. In your paper, address any steps that could be taken to help the threatened species.

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.