For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 08, 2021

1. Republican Gains

In off-year elections — those in which a presidential election does not take place — the party in power usually loses positions to the opposition party. That was certainly the case in this month’s election. Republicans made great gains in many places and Democrats lost key positions. The most dramatic reversal of fortune took place in the state of Virginia, where Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governor, and fellow Republicans captured all three statewide offices and took control of the state’s House of Delegates. In the state of New Jersey, Democratic Governor Phil Murphy narrowly survived a challenge from Republican former assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli in a race Murphy was heavily favored to win. Both Virginia and New Jersey comfortably went for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race. Political experts are closely studying the results from this month’s elections and trying to determine what they could mean for the midterm elections in 2022. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read commentaries about the election results. Use what you read to draw a series of editorial cartoons showing what you think could happen in the midterm elections. Use the newspaper or Internet to see how editorial cartoons are drawn, if necessary.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

2. Save a Nation

For the leaders of some nations, the threats of global warming may seem like problems to deal with sometime in the future. For the Republic of the Marshall Islands, those threats are pressing right now. The nation made up of islands in the southern Pacific Ocean will be one of the first countries where rising sea levels may threaten its very existence, according to a new report from the World Bank. The study projected how rising sea levels of 0.5 to 2 meters due to global warming will drive communities out of their homes and leave the nation with the expensive task of protecting schools and hospitals, the Washington Post newspaper reports. At last week’s international summit on global warming and climate change, the Marshall Islands climate envoy urged larger, wealthier nations to take steps to help the Marshalls and also cut back emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to warming. “We’re on the front lines,” the envoy said. “We are the most vulnerable and if you protect the most vulnerable you protect yourself.” The international climate summit addressed a number of key issues involving global warming and climate change. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the different decisions the summit made. Use what you read to write an editorial giving your view on what is the most important move the summit made, and why.

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.

3. Name Game

For years the Cleveland Indians baseball team has been urged to change its name and logo on the grounds they are demeaning and disrespectful of Native Americans. The Major League team finally has made the change critics had asked for — and it’s being sued as a result. The Indians chose the name Guardians, after landmark stone statues carved into a bridge leading to the team’s stadium. The problem is a local roller derby team already was using the name, and sued on the grounds “There cannot be two ‘Cleveland Guardians’ teams in Cleveland,” the Washington Post newspaper reported. “A Major League club cannot simply take a smaller team’s name and use it for itself,” the derby said in a lawsuit filed in federal court late last month. “… and, to be blunt, Plaintiff was here first.” The baseball team has downplayed the double use of the name. “We believe there is no conflict between the parties and their ability to operate in their respective business areas,” the team said in a prepared statement. It is rare that different teams in a city use the same name, though it has happened before. At one time both Major League Baseball and the National Football League had teams named the New York Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals. Sports teams choose their names carefully to create an identity and attract a following among fans. Often names reflect local culture or attractions. In the newspaper or online, research the origins of team names that reflect local culture. Use what you read to write a sports column assessing the significance of names. End your column with suggestions for team names that would reflect local culture in your community. Share and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. Another Pokémon Craze

Around the world, Oreo cookies are among the most popular treats that kids love. And Pokémon video games are some of the most popular entertainments. So when the maker of Oreos teamed with Pokémon to put 16 characters from the games on cookies, it’s not surprising they caused a lot of buzz. They even have sparked price wars online for the rarest Pokémon Oreo that depicts the mythical Mew character. Mew cookies have sold for up to $15,000 on the eBay Internet site with asking prices for “mint condition” Mew cookies soaring as high as $100,000, NPR radio reports. From dolls to trading cards, Pokémon characters like Mew, Pikachu and Charmander have long been popular with collectors. “[That’s] the thing about Pokémon. It was designed for people to just go collector crazy,” said one collecting expert. “You’ve got some characters that are really hard to capture, and the scarcity is what really drives up the prices.” When it comes to collecting, people have interests ranging from sports cards to video games to action figures. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about odd things that people collect. Pick one and write a humorous poem addressing something odd that people collect, and why. Read poems aloud.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; reading prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression on successive readings.

5. Do-It-Yourself Design

At the University of California at Santa Barbara, a billionaire donor has given $200-million to build a new dormitory to house students. Unlike most donors, however, Charlie Munger has designed the 11-story building himself, even though he has no training as an architect. The design has caused controversy and prompted one architect who is on the university’s design review board to quit. At issue is both the size and concept of the building, which would house 4,500 students in 1.68-million square feet of space and give 94 percent of the students rooms with no windows. There would also be just two entrances for getting in and out of the building. Munger, who is vice chairman of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway investment group, said the design was based on parents’ often-heard complaints that students do not have their own living space in most college dorms. He said his design would provide more single-occupancy rooms and noted that those that did not have real windows would have virtual windows that would simulate sunlight. The university is supporting the design of the building, which will be named Munger Hall and cost a total of $1.5-billion to complete. “We are delighted to be moving forward with this transformational project,” a spokesperson said. Billionaires and millionaires often give huge sums of money to construct buildings on college campuses. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about such donations and what kind of buildings they will fund. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor calling attention to one noteworthy project and what it will contribute to college life where it is built.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.