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for Grades 9-12

Oct. 26, 2020
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For Grades 9-12 , week of Aug. 31, 2020

1. The Race Is On

The race for president has been going on for months, but with the arrival of Labor Day it is about to enter a more vigorous and aggressive phase. Labor Day by tradition marks the start of the stretch run for the candidates following the national nominating conventions held by the Republican and Democratic parties. From now until Election Day on November 3, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden will be going all out to promote themselves and undermine the candidacies of each other in an effort to win the White House. If the national party conventions are any indication, this will be one of the fiercest and most hotly contested races in years. The Democrats have promoted Biden’s experience and empathy and assailed President Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the economy and for his response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Republicans in turn have painted a picture of the president making all the right decisions on those issues and charged that Biden would make them worse not better. In the newspaper and online, follow the news of what each candidate is saying about himself and his opponent. Make a chart to track their statements and how many are “positive” about what they want to do or “negative” putting down their opponent. At the end of a month, write a political column analyzing which candidate is running the most positive or negative campaign.

Common Core State Standards: Organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

2. A Gift from Swift

Throughout her career, singer Taylor Swift has supported a wide range of charities that help people in need. Many are famous organizations like the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Red Cross or the Shriners Hospitals for Children. This summer, however, Swift made a donation that helped someone few had ever heard of. The singer donated $30,000 to a Black teenager in the European city of London, England so the teen could attend college and become a mathematician. The teen, Vitoria Mario, had scored the highest grades possible in her final high school exams and had received an offer to study math at the University of Warwick, CNN News reported. The problem was she didn’t have the money to go and didn’t qualify for higher education grants. She set up a GoFundMe page online to raise the $53,000 she needed but her efforts fell far short of her goal. Then Swift came across her page and donated the remaining $30,000 Mario needed to achieve her college dream. “I came across your story online and am so inspired by your drive and dedication to turning your dreams into reality,” Swift wrote on the GoFundMe page. “I want to gift you the rest of your goal amount. Good luck with everything you do!” Celebrities often donate significant amounts of money to help a cause. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story of a celebrity doing this. Write a letter to the editor calling attention to what the celebrity did and how it could be an example for other celebrities to help others or the community.

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.

3. Masks and Violence

Throughout the coronavirus epidemic, requirements to wear masks for safety have caused confrontations and even violence. Now teenagers have gotten caught in the middle. At the Sesame Place theme park in Pennsylvania a 17-year-old employee ended up in the hospital with a broken jaw and damaged teeth when he asked two guests to put on masks as the park requires. The man punched the teen in the face, sending him to the ground, and his female companion punched another employee who tried to help. The couple fled the scene but were traced to their apartment in New York City by surveillance video of the parking area. The man was charged with aggravated assault and the woman with simple assault and being an accomplice. The teen spent a week in the hospital and had to undergo double jaw surgery. Theme parks, restaurants and other businesses have set rules for wearing masks to protect customers and employees from the coronavirus. But some customers refuse to wear masks as their “right.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these situations. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining how businesses and communities should deal with situations in which people refuse to wear masks against the wishes of businesses like theme parks, stores or restaurants. Discuss with family or friends.

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.

4. Solid Gold Discovery

Archaeological digs are often described as treasure hunts, but it’s rare diggers find actual treasure among other ancient artifacts. Yet that is what two teenagers did in the Middle East nation of Israel this summer. Working as volunteers on a dig near the city of Tel Aviv, the 18-year-old teens discovered a cache of 425 solid gold coins that date back to an empire that existed more than 1,100 years ago. The coins were from a period when the Abbasid Caliphate ruled a vast empire stretching from Persia in the east to North Africa in the west, the New York Times newspaper reported. Yet they also contained a fragment of a coin from the rival Byzantine Empire, indicating the two empires may have had trade relations even when warring with each other. Coin experts said the discovery was a “rare treasure” that could help researchers better understand the history of the area. For the teens, it was just a thrill to connect with that history. “It was really exciting to find such a special and ancient treasure,” said teen Oz Cohen. Archaeological discoveries help scientists and historians better understand the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one such discovery. Use what you read to write a paragraph detailing what was discovered and why it is important.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Very Special Wedding

Generosity comes in many forms — and on many different days. For a couple in the city of Parma, Ohio that act of kindness came on their wedding day. Tyler and Melanie Tapajna had paid in advance for the food for their August 15 wedding and were disappointed when they had to cancel because the site they had chosen had closed due the coronavirus epidemic. But what to do with the food they had ordered from a food truck caterer? Rather than move it to another location, they decided to donate it to a shelter for single women and mothers with children. Their gift came with one condition: They wanted to serve the food themselves after saying their vows in a small backyard wedding in front of family and friends. So they arranged to have their caterer deliver a meal worth about $2,000 to 135 people at the Laura’s Home shelter and showed up in their wedding clothes to serve. “We just felt it was wrong to have a big wedding during this time, especially when so many people are struggling,” Melanie told the Washington Post newspaper. “It turned out to be the most beautiful day ever,” added Tyler. Emergency food assistance is a continuing need for families whose members have lost jobs or been laid off due to the coronavirus epidemic. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how communities and private organizations are working to provide food assistance. With family or friends, brainstorm ways your community could provide funds or food for families in need. Write a letter to a local leader sharing your idea.

Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.