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For Grades 9-12 , week of Apr 09, 2012

1. Never Again

April is Holocaust Remembrance Month, a time to reflect on the atrocities committed by German Nazis on Jews, gypsies, political dissidents, physically and mentally disabled people, homosexuals and others who stood in their way. Find a story in today's newspaper about someone who is fighting against unfair treatment based on gender, sexual orientation, handicaps, ethnicity or religious beliefs. Or find an example online. Write a short biography of the person and her/his actions, based on the article and other resources.

Core/National Standards: Identifying the responses of individuals to historic violations of human dignity involving discrimination, persecution and crimes against humanity; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience.

2. Masterful Masters

If you had been hoping to go to the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, you were out of luck last week. No single tickets are sold for the Masters, and many were distributed only to people born into a family holding a patron badge. Membership in the Augusta National Golf Club is among the most exclusive in the nation, but its rules also have caused controversy. Before 1990, no African Americans were allowed to join the club. No woman has ever been admitted. You must be nominated for membership. Find a newspaper article about this year’s Masters Tournament or another golf event. Write a sports story about the event, trying a different approach to attract readers.

Core/National Standard: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience.

3. Students in Debt

It isn’t the fluctuating stock market, soaring gas prices or political infighting that threatens the recovery of the American economy. Many experts believe it is runaway student loan debt. The federal student loan program started with the idea that students could borrow money for college and pay it back when they got a job. It hasn’t panned out that way. According to an Associated Press article, the debt for U.S. student loans currently hovers above $1-trillion, surpassing even credit card and auto-loan debt. Part of the problem is the increasing cost of a college education, which in turn increases the amount of money borrowed. There also are fewer good-paying job opportunities for college graduates. The Obama administration is working on a number of proposals to make repayment of loans easier, but many Republican presidential candidates object to the idea of federal student loans. Search the newspaper for stories about student loans and politics. Or find examples online. As a class, discuss the pros and cons of the current student loan system.

Core/National Standard: Posing questions that elicit elaboration and responding to others’ questions and comments.

4. Hitting the Campaign Trail

Teens concerned about education aren’t willing to sit on the sidelines any more. Instead, they are stepping up and running for school board positions. Three teens currently are campaigning for spots on the Prince George’s County School Board in Maryland. Edward Burroughs, 19, actually is an incumbent. He was one of the youngest elected officials in the country, when he was elected to the board in 2010. Joining him as candidates this year are David Murray, 20, and Raaheela Ahmed, 18. These teens aren’t the only ones moving into politics. Corey Andrews, a 17-year-old senior at Howard High School, is running for a seat on the Howard County School Board in Maryland, and a Massachusetts teen was chosen in February to fill a vacant school board seat. Search your newspaper for articles about teens getting involved in politics or running for office. Or find articles online. Pick one and write out five questions you would ask him/her if you were a reporter for the newspaper. Attempt to contact the candidate to conduct your interview and write a news story about the young person’s venture into politics.

Core/National Standard: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience

5. Syrian Struggles

As blood continues to spill in the Syrian civil war, a coalition of more than 70 nations has pledged to send millions of dollars and communication systems to the Middle East country’s opposition groups. According to an Associated Press article, many countries believe diplomacy and sanctions alone won’t work in resolving the country’s problems. Opposition groups want the oppressive regime led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad removed. A summit meeting of the “Friends of the Syrian People” expressed concerns that attempts for finding a peaceful resolution have only been met with resistance by al-Assad, who has failed to institute a ceasefire, give humanitarian access to civilians and enter into political negotiations, despite agreeing to these terms earlier this spring. The uprising has been going on for a year now. Find and read newspaper stories about Syria. As a class, discuss a potential resolution to the conflict.

Core/National Standard: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.