For Grades 9-12 THE WEEK OF Mar. 15, 2021

1. Making Women’s History

March is Women’s History Month, a time when the nation celebrates the achievements and contributions of women in America. This year many of those contributions are being made in government and politics. In Washington, DC, Vice President Kamala Harris is making history as the first African American and South Asian vice president and the first woman to serve as president of the U.S. Senate. In the U.S. House and Senate, women from all backgrounds now hold office. A record 120 women are serving in the House, accounting for 27% of the total. In the Senate, women hold 24 of 100 seats, one fewer than the record number of seats they held in the last Congress. Ten women lead House and Senate committees, including the influential House Appropriations Committee. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about women playing key roles in government in Washington, DC. Pick one and pretend you are going to interview her for a political story or column. Write out five to 10 questions you would ask this woman, and why.

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.

2. Champion ‘Musher’

The Junior Iditarod dog sled race is one of the most challenging sports competitions for teens in America. Competitors must lead their teams of sled dogs nearly 150 miles through the Alaskan wilderness, battle snow and ice, camp out overnight in freezing temperatures and then muster the strength and endurance to finish the race. The Junior Iditarod is the longest dog sled race for teens in the state of Alaska, and this year it was won by a race “musher” from the state of Wisconsin. Morgan Martens not only won the race, he earned Rookie of the Year honors. He is 14 years old, the youngest age allowed in the competition. With a team of 10 sled dogs, he completed the course in 16 hours, 40 minutes and 20 seconds. Some competitors took more than 20 hours to finish. The Junior Iditarod is a huge sports challenge for teen athletes. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another challenge faced by a teenager in sports. Use what you read to write a sports column describing the challenge and what skills and personal traits were needed to meet it. How was the challenge more difficult for a teenager than for an adult?

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. Female Eagle Scouts

When the Boy Scouts of America agreed in 2019 to allow female scouts to join all-male troops, the girls gained the opportunity to earn all the badges and awards that boys could earn. That included the prestigious Eagle Scout honor, and last month the first class of girls to earn the award were honored by the nationwide scouting organization. Nearly 1,000 young women completed the requirements to become an Eagle Scout, despite restrictions imposed by the coronavirus epidemic, CNN News reports. Becoming an Eagle Scout not easy. A scout has to earn 21 merit badges in a wide range of subjects, demonstrate leadership and execute a large community service project — all before turning 18. That put the first female Eagle Scouts on a tight timetable, since girls weren’t allowed to join Boy Scout troops until 2019 and were limited in things they could do by coronavirus restrictions. “I didn’t do it so I could be on TV and I could get interviewed and go down in history,” Eagle Scout Lauren Krimm said. “I did it because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, something that I knew I’d be proud of and that nobody can ever take away from me.” Earning Eagle Scout honors is something that takes time and perseverance. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another achievement that takes time and perseverance. Use what you read to write a letter to the person who accomplished this achievement. Detail things you learned from the person’s achievement and how they could help you in your life.

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.

4. ‘Ingredients of Life’

Rocks found in a driveway in the European nation of England have scientists buzzing that they could reveal secrets about the early history of the solar system and life on Earth. The rocks broke off from a meteorite that blazed across the sky in England at the end of last month and contain a material known to have the “ingredients of life” in it, scientists said. The material, carbonaceous chondrite, contains organic material and amino acids found in various life forms, they said. About 10.6 ounces of the rare material were recovered from the English driveway. Because it was recovered so quickly after falling, it was “a dream come true” for scientists who study the solar system, according to one expert. Scientists study materials from meteorites, asteroids and planets to learn more about the history of the solar system. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about one mission designed to do this. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper detailing what the mission seeks to achieve, what it has achieved so far, and why that is significant.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

5. Live like a Cadet

Isolation and lack of social contact have been big problems for college students over the last year – both those working remotely from home and those living in dorms. To address the problem and reduce the impact, a college president from the state of Vermont came up with an unusual way to show solidarity and offer support. Norwich University President Mark Anarumo moved into a dorm at the private military college to gain a better understanding of what cadets were going through. Following campus guidelines, Anarumo stayed in his room, ordered takeout meals, and operated remotely except for bathroom breaks. The students appreciated the gesture, even if it didn’t mean the president would be holding office hours (he did take phone calls). “We saw how he was living, and also that he wanted to see what it was to be a cadet,” student Jamaal Shaw told the New York Times. “That’s something. Even though it’s very small, it’s something.” Anarumo, a retired Air Force colonel, stayed just five days for his first dorm visit, due to a travel commitment as college president. This month, he says, he will be back. People often gain greater understanding if they “walk in someone else’s shoes” and experience what they experience. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has done this. Use what you read to write an editorial detailing how the experience informed the person in ways simply observing could not.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.