For Grades 9-12 THE WEEK OF Apr 05, 2021

1. Highways, Bridges & More

For years the United States has put off repairing highways, bridges, railroads, airports and other facilities that make up the nation’s “infrastructure.” As a result, many have fallen into dangerous disrepair and neglect. That could be changing later this year, if the U.S. Congress passes a sweeping infrastructure plan proposed by President Biden. The proposal, called “the American Jobs Plan” would fix 20,000 miles of roads, repair 10,000 bridges and create hundreds of thousands of jobs for American workers. The cost would be upwards of $2-trillion, which would be paid for by increased taxes on multi-million-dollar corporations, the White House said. The plan would combat climate change by incorporating clean energy and green construction practices and promoting such things as electrifying school buses and building more charging ports for electric cars. The debate is just beginning on President Biden’s infrastructure plan. In the newspaper or online, follow and closely read stories about what Republicans, Democrats and others are saying about the plan and how that will affect prospects for approval. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing things you like about the plan and things that could be changed or deleted.

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. Goodbye, ‘My Maryland’

Maryland’s state song takes its music from a popular Christmas tune, but its words have been decidedly UNpopular with many people for years. The lyrics of “Maryland, My Maryland” sympathize with the Confederate states during the U.S. Civil War, call President Abraham Lincoln a “despot” and refer to Union soldiers as “Northern scum.” Now, after years of debate, Maryland is about to drop the controversial song, whose lyrics were written by Confederate sympathizer James Ryder Randall in 1861. Both houses of the Maryland state legislature have voted to repeal the song, and Governor Larry Hogan is expected to sign the measure. “I never liked the song in the first place,” he has said. “Maryland, My Maryland” takes its tune from the Christmas song “O, Christmas Tree” (“O, Tannenbaum”). It was adopted as Maryland’s state song in 1939. One of the biggest effects of the Black Lives Matter movement has been the re-examination of practices and traditions for connections to discrimination, slavery or white supremacy. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about communities doing this sort of re-examination. Use what you read to write an editorial examining one effort and whether you think it is a good idea.

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. Old Trees for Cathedral

The Notre Dame Cathedral has been a landmark and attraction for more than 850 years in the city of Paris, France. So it may be appropriate that the city is going way back in time to repair the cathedral after a fire destroyed its roof and famous spire two years ago. The city is harvesting 200-year-old oak trees to provide ancient wood for the roof and the base of the spire. All told, more than 1,000 oaks will be harvested for the reconstruction, some as large as three feet across and 60 feet high, CNN News reports. Trees will come from more than 200 forests across the country, so that all regions will be represented in the cathedral when work is complete. The harvesting of “old forest” oak trees for the reconstruction of Notre Dame has been getting a lot of attention in France. While many people like the idea of using old wood for the project, others oppose cutting ancient trees that have stood for more than 200 years. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read another story about plans to use natural resources or materials for a project. Use what you read to create a chart showing why people are supporting or opposing the use of these resources. Finish by writing a paragraph offering your opinion.<.p>

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.

4. Pandemic Treaty?

All over the world, nations continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, some world leaders want to start planning for the next one. A group of more than 20 national leaders have called for a new international health treaty to promote greater cooperation among nations dealing with future pandemics and less “go-it-alone” nationalism and isolationism. France, Britain and Germany are among the nations promoting the proposed treaty along with the World Health Organization. The United States, China and Russia have not committed to supporting a pandemic treaty, CNN News reported. Supporters of the treaty say it is needed because it is not a question of IF, but WHEN there will be another world health crisis. “We believe that nations should work together toward a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response," the leaders said in a statement published last week. The battle to control the coronavirus continues all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories offering the latest information about cases, deaths and efforts to control the spread of the disease. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor analyzing how helpful an international treaty would be combatting the coronavirus or a future health crisis.

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. Cherry Blossom Change

Global warming and climate change are affecting the world in ways ranging from icebergs melting to raging wildfires to rising sea levels. Now they are affecting a flower tradition that goes back more than 1,000 years. Scientists in the Asian nation of Japan report that the blossoms on the nation’s famous cherry trees have peaked earlier than ever this spring. In the city of Kyoto, for example, the blossoms peaked March 26, the earliest in 1,200 years of record-keeping. The record fits into a pattern of earlier blooming that goes back more than 100 years but has accelerated in the last decade, scientists said. In the city of Tokyo cherry trees have bloomed earlier than normal nine years in a row. Global warming and climate change are having effects on wildlife and the environment all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different effects. Use what you read to create a PowerPoint presentation showcasing some of these effects, their impact on wildlife or the environment and what people or governments can do to address them. Illustrate your PowerPoint with images from the newspaper or Internet. Present your PowerPoint to family, friends or classmates 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.