Get Adobe Flash player

For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 23, 2012

1. Faith and Politics

Does religion matter when it comes to electing a president? For some people, it makes a huge difference. To others, it matters much less. In the last election, many voters thought Barack Obama was a Muslim, even though he is a Christian, and were concerned. In this election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith is raising red flags among some voters. An Associated Press article recently reported that a group of evangelical Christian leaders, including pastors and conservative political organizers, met in Texas and endorsed Rick Santorum to be the Republican candidate for president. The article said the group felt Romney was too moderate on social issues, although they concede it may be too late for their endorsement to matter. Find a newspaper article that discusses the faith of candidates or the role faith will take in the upcoming election. As a class, discuss what role you think faith should play.

Core/National Standard: Analyzing the position of major religious groups on political and social issues.

2. Gold!!!

On January 24, 1848, gold was discovered in California. The event triggered a gold rush that prompted many families to move to the area. Eventually, California became the most populous state in the nation. Read a story in today's newspaper about an event that has happened in California. Summarize the story in your own words. Then analyze the ways this story shows how much the state has changed since the days before gold was found. Does the story reflect any of the desires or motivations that led people to join the California gold rush?

Core/National Standards: Reading closely to determine what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; understanding narratives about major eras of American and world history by identifying the people involved, describing the setting and sequencing the events; comprehending the past.

3. Analyzing the Analysts

Randy Essex is frustrated and not afraid to let people know. The former deputy managing editor of the Detroit Free Press has been listening for years to arguments against alternative energy and cars, while also following debate on how America will deal with the threat of oil embargoes by Middle Eastern countries. He recently wrote a commentary in the Free Press that outlined what he sees are the problems facing our country and its dependence on oil. He also laid out his ideas for alternatives to stop the country from spinning its wheels when it comes to oil and to change the country’s mindset about alternatives. He used historical facts as well as researched arguments to support his opinions. Part of being a well-informed citizen is analyzing what people think and write. Find a commentary in your newspaper and write an analysis on how well the writer did or did not use facts to support his or her arguments.

Core/National Standard: Analyzing how an author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed and the connections that are drawn between them.

4. Just One World

Everyone knows that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that has been called a key source of global warming. But now some scientists are saying reducing the production of carbon dioxide may not be the fastest way to reverse global warming. According to an Associated Press article, an international team of scientists reported that a better approach would be to reduce emissions of methane and soot. They said the impact of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels like coal and oil is a bigger overall cause, but reducing methane and soot would provide a quicker fix for now. The scientists came up with 14 different ways to attack methane and soot. If put in place, they said, these measures would reduce the Earth’s average temperature by 0.9 degrees. In groups, find articles on pollution or global warming in the newspaper. Or find examples online. From what you find, come up with a school-wide campaign outlining ways to reduce the impact of humans on the environment.

Core/National Standard: Understanding that materials from human societies affect both physical and chemical cycles of the Earth.

5. The Math Side of Sports

You love sports. You hate math. Sorry to tell you, but the two go hand in hand, from simple adding of scores to calculating batting averages. The hit movie “Moneyball” follows the story of Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s general manager, who tapped the mathematical and analytical talents of an economics graduate from Yale University to change the way the team scouted and analyzed players to sign. Follow the NBA statistics from your newspaper sports section for a week. Use them to figure out percentages of shots made from those taken, ratios of wins to losses (reduce them where possible) and averages for assists and rebounds.

Core/National Standard: Understanding the concept of a ratio and using the ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities.