For Grades 9-12 , week of May 10, 2021

1. Targeting Global Warming

With the world growing warmer due to climate change, more and more people are turning to air conditioning and refrigeration to keep cool. Unfortunately, air conditioning and refrigeration contribute to MORE global warming because they give off chemicals that warm the air. Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking aim at reducing these chemicals called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in an effort to slow global warming in the United States and around the world. The EPA is proposing a new regulation to reduce the production and importation of HFCs by 85 percent in the United States over the next 15 years. The move is important, because it will be the first time the federal government has set national limits on HFCs, the New York Times newspaper reported. It is part of President Biden’s announced plans to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions roughly in half by 2030. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about President Biden’s plans to address global warming and climate change. Use what you read to write a political column detailing the most important steps he is proposing and what the United States and other nations must do to achieve them.

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. Mega-Dollars for College

Paying for college is a challenge for many students and families — but a 17-year-old from the African nation of Nigeria will have no such worries. Victory Yinka-Banjo, a recent high school graduate, has been offered more than $5-million dollars' worth of scholarship money from some of the top universities in the United States and Canada. The full-ride undergraduate offers came from 19 of the most selective schools in North America, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, CNN News reported. An exceptional student who had perfect scores on many of her admission tests, Victory hopes to study computational biology in college. “It still feels pretty unbelievable,” she told CNN. “I applied to so many schools because I didn't even think any school would accept me.” Choosing a college is a complicated process involving a student’s interests and goals, schools that offer programs that match those goals and scholarships and aid that are available for students who need it. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories offering advice on finding the right college. Use what you read to write an advice column of your own, summarizing the most important things for students to consider.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

3. No More Hermit Life

In a famous novel from long ago, a man named Robinson Crusoe spent 28 years living alone as a hermit on a tropical desert island after being shipwrecked near South America. This year, 302 years after the Crusoe book came out, a real-life hermit named Mauro Morandi is ending a life as an island hermit that is four years longer than his fictional counterpart. Since 1989, the 81-year-old Morandi has been living on the Isle of Budelli off the coast of Sardinia in Italy, taking care of its beautiful pink beaches, collecting trash and protecting plants and wildlife. Now, however, Italian park authorities want him to leave, since Budelli has become part of La Maddalena National Park and private buildings like Morandi’s hut are not allowed. Morandi is not going willingly, CNN News reports. He feels he provides a service that park authorities have not offered since acquiring the island in 2015 and has been fighting efforts to evict him. He has supporters — 70,000 people have signed an online petition to let him stay — but he now admits the end of his hermit life is near. “I’m going to leave,” he wrote on his Facebook page, noting that he hoped “Budelli will be safeguarded as I have done for 32 years.” Mauro Morandi’s life as a hermit could be a novel or movie. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person whose life would make an interesting book or movie. Use what you read to write a “pitch letter” to a publishing or movie company, telling how you would present the person’s story in an interesting way. For added appeal, give your book/movie a title that would draw attention.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Apostrophe Lover

When people devote their life to a cause, it’s unlikely that many would choose grammar. Yet a newspaperman named John Richards did just that in the European nation of England, campaigning well into his 90s for the respect and proper use of the apostrophe. He even founded the Apostrophe Protection Society at age 78 to defend this modest punctuation mark from the “barbarians” who misuse it. Of particular irritation to this sharp-eyed editor were people who used apostrophes to make single nouns plural (horse’s instead of horses) and those who left them out entirely, as a British bookstore named Waterstone’s did when it changed its name to Waterstones. If “McDonald’s can get it right, then why can’t Waterstones?” he asked in a newspaper interview at the time. Richards said the apostrophe was a “poor defenseless creature” endangered by technology that valued speed over grammatical precision, the Washington Post newspaper reported when he died this month at age 97. “I think that grammar is a valued part of our civilization,” he once declared. “I don’t like any attempt to diminish it.” Punctuation can play an important role in understanding things you read. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story that interests you. Go through the story circling or highlighting the punctuation involved. Write a paragraph telling how reading the story would be more difficult if there were no punctuation. For added fun, pick a punctuation mark and write a couplet poem telling why it is important. A couplet is a two-line poem that rhymes.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation and spelling when writing.; identifying multiple language conventions and using them; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

5. Feed the Hungry

During the coronavirus epidemic, many people have suffered food shortages. Schools, churches and food banks have stepped up to supply relief, but there is still great need in many communities. In the state of Oklahoma, restaurants in at least three communities have taken an unusual approach to feeding the hungry by establishing “giving boards” in their places of business. On a giving board, a customer can pre-pay for a meal or meals and post the receipt for all to see. Anyone who needs a good meal, can take one of the receipts and turn it in for a meal, no questions asked. “Maybe if we can show people what it’s like to take care of your neighbor during a time of need, it will spread throughout the United States,” said Bless Parker, the volunteer mayor of the town of Miami. “I want people in my community to be fed whether they have money for a meal or not,” said restaurant owner Jennifer White. Individuals and organizations are doing many things to help provide food that people need. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person or organization doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, calling attention to this effort and outlining how it could be an example or inspiration for others.

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.