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Grades 1-4
Grades 5-8

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for Grades 9-12

Nov. 30, 2020
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Nov. 09, 2020
Nov. 02, 2020
Oct. 26, 2020
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Sep. 28, 2020
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May 25, 2020
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Apr 27, 2020
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Mar. 30, 2020
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Mar. 09, 2020
Mar. 02, 2020
Feb. 24, 2020
Feb. 17, 2020

For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 28, 2020

1. The First Debate

The race for president has been heating up, with Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden hurling charges and counter-charges against each other online and in campaign appearances. On Tuesday, September 29 they will meet face-to-face to debate issues and give voters a chance to decide for themselves how well informed they are, how they conduct themselves and how well they “think on their feet” under pressure. Unlike other debates, the topics have been announced in advance for the showdown in Cleveland, Ohio. The topics Trump and Biden will be quizzed on are: the response to the coronavirus epidemic; the Supreme Court; race and violence in U.S. cities; the Trump and Biden records; the economy, and the integrity of the election. The Commission on Presidential Debates said it revealed the topics in advance “in order to encourage deep discussion of the leading issues facing the country.” The Cleveland debate is the first of three faceoffs between Trump and Biden. The next two will be held October 15 in Miami, Florida and October 22 in Nashville, Tennessee. Debates often reshape campaigns or give candidates guidance on how to proceed going forward. After Tuesday’s debate, closely read stories in the newspaper or online about how each candidate did. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing the performance of each candidate and changes they may need to make going forward.

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. ‘The Notorious R.B.G.’

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has brought renewed attention to women’s rights — those that have been achieved in her lifetime and those that have yet to be realized. Ginsburg, who died at age 87 after 27 years on the Supreme Court, was a lifelong advocate for equal treatment of men and women and an inspiration to women and girls to pursue their dreams whatever the obstacles. She was instrumental in changing the nation’s view of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, arguing again and again that its guarantee of equal protection under the law applied not only to racial discrimination but to sex discrimination as well. Even as the U.S. Senate moves to approve her replacement, her arguments and achievements continue to influence the debate and demonstrate why in later life she became known as “the Notorious R.B.G.” for defending equal rights even when outvoted. Ruth Bader Ginsburg worked her whole life to advance women’s rights and equal treatment of men and women. In the process she became a role model for women in many professions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about Ginsburg’s legacy as a role model. Write an editorial outlining the most important ways she will be a role model for women in the future.

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. ‘Patriotic’ Education

Schools are not just places for teachers to teach and students to learn. More and more across America, they have become political battlegrounds over what should be taught. In the latest skirmish, President Trump has announced he will establish a national educational commission to promote “pro-American” and “patriotic” teaching that “celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history.” The move by the President came in response to efforts by the Black Lives Matter movement and others to re-examine American history to shed light on systemic racism and discrimination against African Americans and other people of color in the past. Trump characterized such efforts as “left-wing indoctrination” and said it has “gone on far too long.” Democrats and educators dispute the idea that examining national flaws such as slavery and discrimination is unpatriotic. The goal, one teacher said, is “not repeating the mistakes of our forefathers.” President Trump’s call for “patriotic” teaching in schools is generating wide debate. With family, friends and classmates, use the newspaper and Internet to find and closely read stories featuring different views on the proposal. Use what you read to discuss President Trump’s proposal, why you think he made it and whether you think it will affect people’s opinions on the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. Smelling Covid-19

With a sense of smell up to 100,000 times stronger than that of humans, dogs can use their noses to track people, find bodies, detect bombs or determine if people have diseases like cancer. Now they are being used to sniff out the Covid-19 coronavirus. In the European nation of Finland, a pilot program is using dogs to detect the coronavirus in travelers at the Helsinki Airport. The dogs aren’t smelling the passengers directly, but instead are sniffing sweat samples submitted by volunteer travelers. If the dogs detect the virus, travelers are asked to take an on-the-spot Covid test that can yield results in as little as 10 seconds. The Finland pilot program is the largest in the world, though other nations have tried a similar approach. An airport program in the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East detected the coronavirus with 90 percent accuracy, the Washington Post newspaper reported. In the United States a program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine is also training dogs to detect Covid-19 by smell. Dogs can be trained to do many things to help people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these helpful things. Pick one and write a letter to the editor telling why it is important.

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.

5. Students Are Leading

All over the world students and young people are making their voices heard on issues ranging from the environment to gun control. In the Southeast Asian nation of Thailand, they are leading a pro-democracy movement that is changing the conversation about the country’s constitutional monarchy form of government. College and high school students are leading protests questioning the authority of Thailand’s king and prime minister and breaking new ground for criticism of those leaders. In Thailand, it is against the law to criticize the king, but students have broken those rules to protest for democratic reforms, the Washington Post newspaper reports. Taking inspiration from the “Hunger Games” books and movies, the students have called for the ouster of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and changes in the monarchy led by King Vajiralongkorn to reduce the economic inequality between Thailand’s rich and poor. Young people are speaking up and taking action to achieve goals on issues important to them. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about young people who are doing this. Use what you read to brainstorm a way young people could speak up or take action on an issue important to you. Write a “call to action” seeking support for this effort from people your age.

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.