For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 15, 2021

1. TikTok Rescue

The TikTok social media site allows users to post videos on all kinds of topics. Some are silly and some are artsy but some have a more serious purpose. This month, one of the last kind is credited with rescuing a 16-year-old girl from a would-be kidnapper and possibly saving her life. The girl was traveling on Interstate 75 in the state of Kentucky with a 61-year-old man who had picked her up 48 hours earlier in Asheville, North Carolina. She couldn’t call out for help, so she used “Signal for Help” hand gestures she had learned on TikTok. A video showing the gestures had been posted by the Women’s Funding Network to help women and girls who find themselves in danger. Another driver on the highway saw the gestures, recognized what they mean and called sheriff’s department in Laurel County, Kentucky, the Washington Post newspaper reported. The driver followed the car in which the girl was a passenger and alerted police when it turned off the highway. The sheriff’s department arrested the man and charged him with unlawful imprisonment and other offenses. The “Signal for Help” gesture involves folding the thumb across an open palm and then folding all four fingers down over the thumb. To see how it looks, click here. TikTok videos can offer advice and helpful information to help people deal with problems or difficult situations. With a partner, use the newspaper and Internet to read stories about such a problem or situation. Brainstorm an idea for a video, offering advice on how people could solve the problem or safely deal with the situation.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Red-Blue Virus Effects

In politics America is deeply divided between red states that support Republicans and blue states that back the Democrats. That political divide has spilled over into attitudes about the coronavirus on everything from wearing masks to getting vaccinated. And it’s having a deadly effect. According to the latest statistics, there is a growing gap in the death toll between red and blue America, the New York Times newspaper reports. In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Republican counties that support former President Trump died from the Covid 19 virus, a rate more than three times higher than that in heavily Democratic counties that support President Biden. The death rate in the Biden counties was 7.8 per 100,000. October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened. Nationally, almost 40 percent of Republican adults remain unvaccinated, compared with about 10 percent of Democratic adults, the Times reported. The gap between Republican and Democratic attitudes can be seen in many issues beyond the coronavirus. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the gap and how it is affecting the nation. Use what you read to write a political column predicting the impact this will have on politics and government in the months and years ahead.

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. Targeting Methane

In the battle against global warming, carbon dioxide gets the most attention as an Earth-warming greenhouse gas. But methane is a potent Number 2. Methane is produced by oil and natural gas operations, livestock production and landfills, and scientists say it can warm the atmosphere 80 times faster than carbon dioxide in the short term. At the international climate change summit this month, nations of the world joined together in a pledge to reduce methane emissions, and President Biden positioned the United States to be an aggressive leader in the effort. Biden called the summit’s methane agreement a “game-changing commitment” and announced that for the first time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would move to limit the methane leaking from existing oil and gas rigs across the United States. He also announced a new initiative to work with farmers and ranchers to produce “climate-smart agricultural practices” that would reduce methane on farms. “It’s one of the most potent greenhouse gases there is,” the President said. “It amounts to about half — HALF — the warming we’re experiencing today. ... So together, we’re committing to collectively reduce our methane by 30 percent by 2030. … This is going to make a huge difference.” Leaders attending the climate change summit took a number of steps designed to slow global warming and climate change. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about actions taken at the summit. Use what you read to write an editorial spotlighting the most important ones and what nations now need to do to give them lasting impact.

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

4. Travel Ban Over

As the world seeks to get back to “normal” after the coronavirus epidemic, one of the big questions is when travel restrictions will be loosened up. The United States took a big step in that direction last week when it announced it will allow vaccinated travelers from 33 nations to enter the U.S. as visitors. Travel from those countries had been banned or restricted for the last 18 months due to the virus epidemic. The lifting of the ban will give a boost to the travel industry and the U.S. economy just in time for the holiday season, business leaders said. The extended travel ban caused business losses of nearly $300-billion in visitor spending and more than one million American jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association. The loosening of travel restrictions has prompted a lot of people to plan trips to the United States, or trips from the United States to other countries. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the most popular destinations. Pick one you would like to travel to and design a travel ad highlighting its attractions and appeal to you. Be sure to give your ad an eye-catching headline.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. ‘Answer the Phone’

Caller ID offers a lot of advantages, but sometimes it’s a good idea to just answer the phone. A hiker who had gotten lost off a mountain trail in the state of Colorado could have gotten help a lot quicker if he/she had just answered repeated calls from rescuers. The hiker told rescuers the calls were not answered because the hiker didn’t recognize the phone numbers. The person, who was not identified (though some reports identified him as a man), had started hiking Mount Elbert in the morning before getting lost when darkness fell at the end of the day. Five search crews were sent out overnight but failed to find the missing hiker. After “bouncing around” a number of trails the hiker returned to his/her lodging. Rescuers had some common sense advice for other hikers who lose their way: “If you’re overdue according to your itinerary, and you start getting repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone.” Mount Elbert is the highest peak in Colorado with an elevation of 14,433 feet. When people do outdoor activities, it’s a good idea to think and plan ahead about what to do if something were to go wrong. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories offering safety and planning advice for outdoor activities. Use what you read to write an advice column listing situations that could arise during outdoor activities and how to deal with them.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.