, week of
Nov. 19, 2018
1. Juul Pulls Back
E-cigarettes were developed as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes, but they have become so popular with teens and pre-teens that they have become a health risk on their own. More than three million middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes like Juul in 2017, and government officials have expressed worries that users will become addicted to the nicotine they contain. Faced with government plans to ban sales in some locations, Juul Labs has announced it will stop selling its flavored e-cigarettes in stores and suspend social media accounts that promote them. “Our intent was never to have youth use Juul,” said Kevin Burns, chief executive of Juul Labs in a statement. “But intent is not enough. The numbers … tell us underage use of e-cigarettes is a problem.” The health risks of e-cigarettes are getting more attention in communities around the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about what doctors and health experts are saying about these risks. Use what you read to write a consumer column for the newspaper, summarizing things that middle and high school students should know about e-cigarettes before trying them.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. News Robots
Artificial intelligence is changing the way many organizations do business. In the Asian nation of China, it has even changed the way people get the news. A state-run news agency has introduced the nation’s first robot anchors to deliver the news on TV. The robots on the Xinhua TV network look like real people, but are powered by artificial intelligence programs. They are able to display human facial expressions and actions, but they only speak text that is fed into them by computer. Their tone of voice has been compared to America’s Siri and Alexa voice systems, only more stilted. Artificial intelligence is one of the fastest growing fields in the computer industry. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about advances in the use of artificial intelligence.. Use what you read to write a five-minute TV news report about advances that are taking place. Use the newspaper and Internet to find photos to illustrate your report. Read your report aloud and time it so that it does not go over five minutes. Present your report to the class.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
3. Comic Hero
Many students may not recognize the name Stan Lee, but they certainly recognize his creations. As head of Marvel Comics, he brought the world some of its most popular superheroes. Lee and his Marvel team created Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Black Panther, the Incredible Hulk, Thor and the X-Men, to name just a few. Lee, who died this month at age 95, broke new ground for superheroes by making them characters who had flaws and insecurities as well as superhero strengths. He said he wanted them to be “flesh and blood characters” who shared the emotions of humans. Superheroes often have to deal with problems and events that happen in real life. Think like a comic book writer and read a story in the newspaper or online about a real-life problem or challenge facing people. Write a paragraph explaining how a popular superhero might deal with the problem.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; 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.
4. S-S-S-S-Some Snake!
Burmese pythons are powerful snakes — and they are especially dangerous if they have no natural predators. In the state of Florida, Burmese pythons have threatened many other species since being introduced as an “invasive species” in the Everglades natural area. To control the pythons, the state launched a python-hunting program, and this month it set a record. A snake hunter from Homestead Florida captured a 17-foot, 5-inch female that weighed in at 120 pounds! That was the biggest python yet caught in the program, which has eliminated 1,859 of the invasive snakes, according to local wildlife officials. All together, the captured pythons have a combined length of more than two miles and a weight of more than 11 tons. Invasive species are problems in many states. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an invasive plant or wildlife species in your state or region. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing the problem and outlining ways people or government leaders could address it.
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. Ford Scooters
For 115 years, the Ford Motor Company has been one of the world’s leading producers of cars and trucks. Now the company is getting into a new transportation field — electric scooters. This month Ford announced that it has purchased a California-based company that has found success in the scooter-sharing industry. Ford’s purchase of the Spin company for more than $40-million gives Ford a stake in the rapidly growing scooter-sharing field that now makes electric scooters available for rent in cities around the world. Spin scooters, which are now available in 13 U.S. cities, cost $1 to rent and 15 cents per minute to operate. Ford’s purchase of the Spin scooter company is an example of a company expanding into a new field. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another company expanding what it does. Write a paragraph or short paper, assessing the risks and benefits of the company’s expansion.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
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