, week of
Sep. 23, 2019
1. Top Colleges
Every fall college-bound high school seniors start the process of deciding which school would be right for them. Many look for the rankings of U.S. News and World Report to help make their decisions. For 36 years, the U.S. News magazine has been ranking the best universities and colleges based on a formula that takes into account factors ranging from graduation rates, to faculty resources, to the results of peer assessment surveys. This year’s results are in and they are not surprising. Once again Princeton University and Williams College have been ranked the top schools. For the ninth straight year, Princeton was rated the Number 1 national university, while Williams was rated the top liberal arts college for the 17th straight year. Princeton is a member of the Ivy League and located in New Jersey. Williams is located in northwestern Massachusetts. The U.S. News rankings can be viewed online at https://www.usnews.com/rankings. Choosing a college is a huge decision for students and their families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories offering advice on what to look for in a college and how to decide. Use what you read to write a consumer column for college-bound students outlining what you think are the top things to consider when making a college choice.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.
2. Body Type
Among high school girls, many feel stress or anxiety about their body type. They worry that they’re too fat, too thin, too curvy or too skinny — or that they don’t measure up to the female body images seen in magazines or on TV. Teachers and counselors have spent a lot of effort stressing that there is no perfect body type for girls, and that no one should feel ashamed about the type they have. Not surprisingly, people pushing that message were angered and upset at what happened to a high school girl in the state of Alaska at a swim meet. The girl, who had a “curvier” body type, was disqualified after winning a race because her school-issued swimsuit had ridden up in a “suit wedgie” while she was competing. Officials said 17-year-old Brecklynn Willis was disqualified because she had exposed too much of her backside, even though she hadn’t done anything but swim. Since Willis had done nothing intentionally to hike up her suit, Dimond High School officials appealed the disqualification. The governing body for Alaska high school sports ruled the disqualification was made in error and overturned it, with all team and individual points restored. People’s feelings about their body type are often influenced by what they see in advertisements, TV shows or movies. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to find and study ads featuring high school girls, or boys. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper analyzing what message the ads convey about body types and how that compares to reality. Share and discuss your findings as a class.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
3. Businesses and Guns
The debate over gun violence became more intense in the U.S. Congress this summer after back-to-back mass shootings killed 31 people and wounded dozens of others in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Now another group of national leaders is joining in. The heads of 145 top companies have issued a public call to the U.S. Senate to expand background checks for gun buyers and pass so-called “red flag” legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of people considered a risk to commit violence by authorities. “Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the business leaders wrote in a letter to Senate leaders. In the letter, the leaders stated that background checks on all gun sales were a “common-sense solution with overwhelming public support.” Historically, businesses have been reluctant to get involved in controversial political issues. Spurred by customers’ interest in social action, however, more businesses are taking stands on issues like immigration, climate change and, now, gun violence. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a business doing this. Use what you read to write a business column analyzing the benefits — and liabilities — of the business getting involved on its issue.
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.
4. Holocaust Diary Revealed
The diary of a teen Jewish girl killed by Nazis in World War II is going to be published at long last — after being hidden in a bank vault for more than 70 years. The diary was written by Polish teenager Renia Spiegel and covers her years from ages 14 to 18. She was shot and killed at age 18 after being discovered hiding from German Nazis in an attic. Just before her death, she had given her diary to her boyfriend for safekeeping. After the war he returned it to her family, but it was too painful for them to read. They stored it in a bank vault in New York City after moving there. In 2012, the daughter of Spiegel’s sister had the 700-page diary translated into English. Now “Renia's Diary: A Young Girl’s Life in the Shadow of the Holocaust” is finally being published by her family. Full of poetry, anecdotes and painful observations, it is being compared to the world’s most famous Holocaust journal, “The Diary of Anne Frank.” The views of teenagers often add an important perspective to history or current events. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about teen perspectives today or in the past. Use what you read to write a short editorial titled “Listen to Teens.”
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
5. Where Are You, Fans?
Apps can do a lot of things for people, but can they force them to support the football team? The University of Alabama is attempting to find out, in a controversial move to get students to stay to the end of home games of the nationally ranked Crimson Tide team. Football coach Nick Saban has long been irritated that students leave games early, even when Alabama is blowing out an overwhelmed opponent. Empty seats reduce support for the team and hurt recruiting of future players, he argues. So this year the university has launched a Tide Loyalty Points program that uses a location tracking app to see who leaves games and who stays to the end, the New York Times newspaper reports. Those who download the app and don’t leave early earn a better chance for tickets to big games like the Southeastern Conference championship game and College Football Playoff games. At football crazy Alabama, thousands of students signed up. Others felt the program seemed like “Big Brother” watching. The Tide Loyalty Points program at the University of Alabama has raised questions about social media privacy. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about privacy issues regarding social media, Internet use and websites such as Facebook. Use what you read to design a chart or poster highlighting the top concerns and what people can do to protect themselves.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.