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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Aug. 22, 2022

1. Hate Crime Summit

From individual attacks to mass shootings, hate crimes are on the rise in the United States. According to national police statistics, hate crimes in major cities increased by nearly 39 percent in 2021 and the trend has continued in 2022. In an effort to combat the rise in hate crimes, President Biden has announced he will hold a White House summit on hate-fueled violence next month. The summit will include federal, state and local officials, civil rights groups, faith and community leaders, technology and business leaders, law enforcement officials, former members of violent hate groups, gun violence prevention leaders, media representatives and cultural figures, the Washington Post newspaper reported. Plans for the summit began to take shape this spring after 10 Black people were killed in a mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York supermarket by a self-declared white supremacist. “As President Biden said in Buffalo after the horrific mass shooting earlier this year, in the battle for the soul of our nation ‘we must all enlist in this great cause of America,’” White Houses spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said. Hate crimes are a growing problem in America. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about hate crime incidents. Use what you read to write an editorial offering suggestions on ways communities or government agencies could most effectively combat hate crimes.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. More Sleep for Teens

For years and years, high school students have complained that school starts too early in the day, leaving them sleepy and unproductive. Medical experts support that claim, noting that the biorhythms, or “biological clock” of teens and preteens are the reasons they prefer to stay up late and get up later. Now, for the first time in the nation, the state of California is addressing that issue. A new law taking effect for this school year requires that high school classes start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and middle school no earlier than 8 a.m. The law is based on studies that show teenagers don’t get enough sleep – and that their performance in school improves when they do, the Christian Science Monitor newspaper reports. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents doctors who treat teens and younger children, has declared teen sleep deprivation a public health issue, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called it a public health epidemic. The Pediatrics Academy said American teens are “chronically sleep deprived and pathologically sleepy.” Other states are watching the California experiment to see if they should adopt a similar change in school schedules. Sleep deprivation is a health issue that affects many teens. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another issue that affects teen health or wellbeing. Use what you read to write a health column summarizing the issue and what can be done about it by teens, families, schools or communities. Share and discuss with classmates.

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

3. Flood Benefits

In the state of Kentucky, Yellowstone National Park and other areas, floods caused by heavy rains have caused great damage this summer. But scientists who study the environment say flooding can have a positive effect on natural areas. “A … flood that goes over bank re-waters the landscape, rejuvenates the vegetation and leaves a veneer of fresh sediment,” one expert told the New York Times newspaper. A severe flood has even more dramatic benefits. “It rips up the oldest of trees. It sends the river off into a new direction. It re-channelizes the flood plain and rejuvenates everything,” said Jack C. Schmidt, a professor of watershed science at Utah State University. “It gives the river a new lease on life.” The flooding not only helps plants, scientists say, but also can attract new kinds of wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about flooding in America this summer. Use what you read to create a chart or graphic organizer showing the negative and positive effects of the flooding.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

4. A Purple Pearl

Pearls are precious gems formed inside sea mollusks like clams, oysters or mussels. They are round and shiny and greatly valued for their use in making jewelry. Most modern pearls are produced in “pearl farms,” but some still form in the wild. These “natural pearls” are rare and considered more valuable. So you can imagine the surprise a man from the state of Pennsylvania felt when he found a rare purple pearl in a clam he was eating at a seashore restaurant in the town of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Scott Overland of the borough of Phoenixville was eating at the Salt Air restaurant in Rehoboth Beach when he made the discovery inside a northern quahog clam, UPI News reported. “At first my wife thought it was a bead,” Overland told WCAU-TV. It looked like one of those ‘Dot’ candies on paper.” A pearl expert said pearls like the one Overland found “are worth money,” and he plans to have it appraised for value. Pearls and other gems are natural resources produced by nature. In the newspaper or online, find stories and photos of other natural resources found in nature that benefit people. Use what you find to create a poster showcasing natural resources that are important to people. Use images from the Internet to illustrate your poster and write a sentence under each to tell how each resource is used or helps people.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Have a Seat

People who use public buses sometimes have to wait a long time at bus stops. That can be tiring when there are no benches to sit on. In the city of Denver, Colorado, one man is trying to correct that situation. James Warren, who rides the bus when he doesn’t ride his bike, has been building benches for bus riders ever since he saw a woman sitting on the ground while waiting for a bus to come. Best of all, he builds his benches from recycled wood that he finds in dumpsters near construction sites. “For people to have to sit in the dirt while they’re waiting for a bus is just undignified,” said Warren, 28, in an interview with the Washington Post newspaper. “I just took some scrap wood and went to town,” So far he has made nearly 10 benches, and other people have noticed. They have offered help or materials to build more benches for bus stops that don’t have them. “My goal is to make people’s lives just a little bit better, in any way I can,” Warren said. To share that message, he inscribes the words “Be Kind” on each bench. People do many things to make life “a little bit better” for others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person or group that is doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling what has been done to make the community better and how that could inspire others. Finish by discussing things you could do with classmates or friends to make things better for people in your community.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.