For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 01, 2021

1. Save the Turtles

Millions of people were hard hit by the brutal winter storm that struck the state of Texas in February. So was wildlife. Especially hard hit were green sea turtles, which were “cold-stunned” by unusually frigid temperatures and left unable to swim or protect themselves. When word got out about the turtles’ predicament, however, hundreds of volunteers jumped into action to save them. Thousands of turtles were collected from beaches and waters near the shore and rushed to wildlife shelters where they could be kept warm. More than 9,400 were saved in what wildlife officials said was the largest cold-stunning event recorded since records first started to be kept in 1980. The rescue effort was successful. After a few days in shelters, most of the turtles were released back into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico on slippery slides attached to boats. Texas continues to recover from the deadly winter storm that hit in February. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about recovery efforts. Pretend you are a leader of recovery efforts. Use what you read to write a “game plan” outlining the most important steps that need to be taken over the next month.

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. Powerful Graphic

In the battle against the coronavirus epidemic, the United States passed a grim milestone in February — 500,000 deaths from the disease. To mark the event, the New York Times newspaper came up with an unusual way to show how enormous that toll is. On Sunday, February 21, the newspaper devoted half of its front page to a graphic containing 500,000 dots — one for each person who has died. From afar, the graphic looked like a field of gray changing from light gray at the top to almost black at the bottom. Looking closely, viewers could see that the gray was made of individual dots, and the changing shades from light to dark symbolized how the deaths started with small numbers across the nation and accelerated to thousands a day. The graphic filled three of the newspaper’s six columns and ran from the top of the page to the bottom. Graphics, charts and illustrations often can help people understand events or issues in ways that words cannot. In the newspaper or online, find and study examples of these visual devices. Then find and read a story in which statistics or other numbers play a role. Create a graphic, chart or illustration to visually tell the significance of the numbers.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.

3. Historic New Role

The World Trade Organization was founded in 1995 to promote fair and open trade of goods and services among all its member nations. One-hundred-sixty-four countries are now members, including the United States, China, Russia, Canada, India and Mexico. This month, the WTO did something it has never done before. It chose Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of the African nation of Nigeria to be its director-general. Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman and the first African to lead the global trade organization. She will take office March 1 and serve a term that runs through August 2025. Her term could be extended if member nations choose to do that. Before winning the WHO appointment, Okonjo-Iweala served as finance minister of Nigeria and spent 25 years as a development economist at the World Bank, rising to the No. 2 position of managing director of operations. She told CNN News her top priority in her new position will be to have “the WTO play a stronger role in bringing solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic.” In many career fields women are breaking new ground and earning jobs that were mostly held by men in the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one such woman. Pretend you are this woman and write a letter to young women, teens or girls that offers advice and encouragement on how to overcome challenges and succeed.

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.

4. Record Rock Painting

Rock and cave paintings are among the earliest forms of communication and give scientists a window into the world of humans thousands of years ago. They often show how those early humans lived, what their interests were and what animals they interacted with. In the southern Pacific nation of Australia, rock paintings have recently been dated by scientific testing, and some of them are the oldest ever found in Australia. A painting of a kangaroo was created more than 17,000 years ago, and others date from 13,000 to 17,000 years in the past. Dating the paintings was tricky, because organic material is difficult to find in the pigments used to make the paintings, scientists said in a paper published this month. Instead, the scientists turned to fossilized wasp nests found in the caves and shelters where the paintings were found, CNN News reported. The nests contained plenty of material needed for radiocarbon dating, which measures the amount and condition of carbon in a material. By analyzing whether the nests were built over or under the surface of the paintings, scientists were able to create a range of age for them. The oldest, like the kangaroo, was more than 17,000 years old, while the newest had an age of about 13,000 years. Radiocarbon dating is an example of technology being used to help people learn or solve problems. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another use of technology that is helping people. Use what you read to write a consumer column, telling how this technology is being used and how that is an improvement over the way things were done in the past.

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.

5. Cheers for the Bartender!

A 21-year-old bartender from the European nation of England has achieved something that likely has led many in her country to raise a glass and shout “cheers!” Jasmine Harrison has set a new world record as the youngest woman to row alone across any ocean. Harrison successfully rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and observers noted it was somehow appropriate that a bartender set a world record in an event sponsored by a whisky company. Harrison completed her 3,000-mile journey of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 70 days, 3 hours and 48 minutes. She started in the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa and finished on the island of Antigua on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. Harrison had little rowing experience when she entered the event and had several frightening experiences. On two occasions her 550-pound boat was tipped over by waves, and on another occasion she nearly collided with a ship at 4 o’clock in the morning, the New York Times newspaper reported. On the flip side, a pod of dolphins followed her for hours near the end of her trip, and a blue whale surfaced so close to her boat that she could almost touch its flipper with her oar. Rowing across the Atlantic Ocean was both a challenge and an adventure for Jasmine Harrison. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about an adventure you would like to have. Write the word ADVENTURE down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter of the word to start a phrase or sentence telling why you would like to have this adventure.

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.