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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 07, 2020

1. Historic Connection

All over the nation, athletes are standing up to support the Black Lives Matter movement. At the University of Alabama, members of the nationally ranked football team led a march that made a powerful connection to the systemic racism in the university’s past. They peacefully marched through campus and ended on the spot where then-Governor George Wallace stood to block Black students from registering at the university in 1963 at the height of the civil rights movement. “While much has changed in the last 57 years, too many things have not,” Alabama running back Najee Harris told the crowd, wearing a “Defend Black Lives” T-shirt. Coach Nick Saban, who is white, joined players at the front of the march and said he felt like “a proud parent” at his players’ action. “I’m very proud and supportive of what they are trying to say in a peaceful and intelligent way,” CNN News reported. Marching students held up signs that read: “Until Black lives matter, all lives can’t matter,” and “Stand for something or fall for anything.” Athletes, celebrities and other individuals are showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement in a variety of ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the ways people have shown support. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing the value of having athletes, celebrities or other people of prominence speak out on an issue.

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. Laptop Shortage

With schools across the nation going to virtual classes for the fall, learning will depend more and more on laptops and home computers. Yet school districts have discovered there is a snag in their plans for full- or part-time virtual learning. With increased demand, schools are finding there is a shortage in laptops from computer companies. An investigation by the Associated Press news service has found that the world’s Big 3 computer companies — Lenovo, HP and Dell — have told school districts they will fall short by nearly 5 million computers in filling orders from school districts. The shortage has been partially caused by U.S. sanctions against trade with the Asian nation of China, which makes many parts used in American computers. Many districts are asking parents to buy devices for their children but realize that’s not an option for many families. Laptops are an important tool for home learning. In the newspaper or online read stories about ways students learn by using laptops or home computers. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining how laptops or home computers benefit home learning, and how students are put at a disadvantage if they don’t have one. Discuss with family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. Vice President’s Slaves

All across America, communities are re-examining the connections to slavery of rich and powerful people from the past. At Clemson University, the effort led to the graves of slaves owned by a man who was once one of the most powerful people in America. The man was John C. Calhoun, who as vice president and a U.S. senator called slavery a “positive good” for the nation and who owned 70 to 80 slaves at Fort Hill Plantation in South Carolina, now the campus of Clemson. What was a surprise for the students was how many unmarked graves there were in a run-down cemetery on campus and the area surrounding it, the Washington Post newspaper reported. Many of the 215 graves discovered near Calhoun’s well-tended gravesite were designated only by piles of plain fieldstones, which were used in the 19th century to mark the graves of slaves and other people of color. Other graves were not marked by anything at all and were discovered only by using underground scanning devices. The discovery has led to calls by students and others at the university to acknowledge the slave gravesites with historic markers and to take better care of them. Communities are learning new things about America’s history by re-examining the role of people from the past. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about such discoveries. Use what you read to create a PowerPoint presentation highlighting some of these discoveries. Illustrate your PowerPoint with images from the newspaper or Internet. Present your PowerPoint to family or friends and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Gandhi’s Glasses

Mohandas Gandhi was one of the world’s great protest leaders who influenced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and others to seek change without violence. In the Asian nation of India, he led the campaign for independence from British rule in 1947 and earned the name “Mahatma” from followers, which means “great souled” in the Sanscrit language. Gandhi lived and dressed simply, wearing little more than a loincloth, shawl, sandals and round-rimmed glasses. Now a pair of those glasses have made news 72 years after his death in 1948. At an auction sale in the European nation of England, a buyer paid a whopping $347,000 for a pair of Gandhi’s glasses that a man had inherited years ago from his uncle. “These are probably the most famous pair of spectacles we’ve ever had, and the most important historical item we’ve found,” said one of the auctioneers. Mohandas Gandhi was a great protest leader who believed change could be achieved without violence. Many people are following the model of peaceful protest today. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people who are protesting peacefully. Use what you read to write a news story or TV news report telling why people in the news feel it is important to protest peacefully. Use direct quotations from people in your report.

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.

5. Marvel-ous Insects

Marvel Comics characters are hugely popular with fans of movies and comic books. They apparently are also popular with scientists — at least in the southern Pacific nation of Australia. Insect scientists studying newly discovered species of flies have given five of them scientific names based on the Marvel Comics universe. One of the flies was named for Stan Lee, founder of Marvel, and another was named for the wise-cracking anti-hero Deadpool. The other three are named for Marvel characters Loki, Thor and Black Widow. All five species are robber flies, which are aggressive flies also known as assassin flies. Robber flies are powerfully built, bristly flies that ambush other insects and attack them in flight. Scientists are constantly discovering new species of wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one new discovery. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing the discovery and why it is important to scientists who study wildlife.

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.

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