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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 21, 2019

1. Depression & Social Media

Social media can be a great way to keep in touch and share messages and photos with friends. But there may be a downside as well. According to a new medical study, there appears to be a connection between social media use and depression in 14-year-olds — and it may be stronger for girls than for boys. The study was based on a survey of 10,904 14-year-olds in Europe’s United Kingdom nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The study gathered data on social media use and how often users experienced “depressive symptoms” such as unhappiness, restlessness or loneliness, CNN news reported. The data did not show that social media CAUSED depressive symptoms; only that there was an ASSOCIATION between social media and feelings of depression. Among teens who use social media more than five hours a day, girls had 50 percent more depressive symptoms than those who used social media for only one to three hours daily. Boys using five hours or more had 35 percent more depressive symptoms. “There’s an alarming difference” between girls and boys, the lead author told CNN. There has been much discussion about the positive and negative effects of using social media. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of those effects. Use what you read to write a consumer column examining the positive and negative effects, and suggesting ways to reduce negative impact. Share and discuss with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.

2. Shutdown Relief

Chef José Andrés has won respect around the world for humanitarian efforts to feed people after natural disasters. His World Central Kitchen organization has provided food to victims of hurricanes and earthquakes in Haiti, Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Tijuana and Guatemala, in addition to feeding rescue workers battling the recent California wildfires. This month he began offering food relief of a different kind right in Washington, DC. He launched a free #ChefsforFeds relief kitchen to feed federal workers furloughed by the government shutdown. “I believe it’s an emergency,” Andrés said in an interview with the Washington Post. “I believe these people are … suffering, and we are a food relief organization.” Andrés said he hoped his Washington relief kitchen would spark discussion and prompt legislators and President Trump to find a way to end the shutdown. The partial government shutdown has affected workers across the nation. And many communities have stepped up to help. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ways people are helping federal workers. Use what you read to write a short editorial discussing what this says about “The Strength of Our Communities.”

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. Super Show

Every year, pro football’s Super Bowl is one of the most widely watched events on television. And every year one of the big questions for viewers is who will perform the halftime show. In the past, mega stars like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Bruce Springsteen have gotten the prize assignment. This year the headliner will be Maroon 5, with support from rappers Big Boi and Travis Scott. Led by Adam Levine, Maroon 5 had long been rumored as this year’s choice, but it was up in the air who would perform with the group. The Super Bowl halftime show offers huge exposure, with an estimated 100 million viewers worldwide. This year’s Super Bowl will take place February 3 in Atlanta, Georgia. Choosing a performer for the halftime show at the Super Bowl is a complicated job. Planners want star power, of course, but also performers who will appeal to a wide audience. Pretend you have been chosen to pick the performer for next year’s Super Bowl show. Use the newspaper and Internet to read up on possible choices. Then write a proposal telling what performer (or performers) you would choose, and why. Share with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

4. Better Behavior

We live in a very rude time. People yell at each other in stores and on TV. Bullying is on the rise, in person and online. The President of the United States calls his opponents names and his opponents return the favor. Vulgar language is used in settings that would never have allowed it before. As Rodney King famously said after the Los Angeles riots in the 1990s, “Can we all just get along?” A group in Washington, DC hopes so, and is working to restore civility in the way we treat and interact with each other. The National Institute for Civil Discourse believes Americans want people to be nicer to each other, and it is pushing lawmakers to set an example. It has hosted more than 500 “civility conversations” in states across the nation and trained more than 12,000 people in civil discourse. The goal, according to leaders, is to show people there is a way to disagree without being disagreeable. Behavior studies are showing that people are becoming less respectful of each other. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different ways people show disrespect to each other. Use what you read to hold a class discussion examining ways to get people to show more respect and civility. Discuss what prominent people would be most effective to lead the effort.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. China on the Moon

The Asian nation of China is a growing power in the world in economics, trade and politics. It also is a growing power in science and space exploration. This month China successfully landed a rover craft on the far side of the Earth’s moon, which never faces Earth. It was the first ever to achieve a landing in that area. Hours after landing, the rover started sending photos back of the moon’s far side, which is not dark, as many have suggested. Just weeks later, Chinese officials announced plans to launch another moon mission by the end of the year and a mission to the planet Mars as early as next year. China is growing in power and influence in many fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one area in which China’s influence is growing. Use what you read to write a short editorial detailing China’s achievement and discussing why it is important to other nations.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.