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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of June 03, 2019

1. Who’s Number One?

In many schools, there is intense competition among top students seeking to be the valedictorian of each year’s graduating class. At Scott High School in Toledo, Ohio this spring, the competition took on a new — and personal — dimension. The candidates for top student in the class of 2019 were identical twins — Deontae and Deontre Wright. In the end, Deontae edged out Deontre for valedictorian honors by one-tenth of a point on their Grade Point Averages. Deontae finished with a 4.5 GPA, compared to Deontre’s 4.4. Deontre was honored as class salutatorian. The 17-year-olds both say competition between them motivated them to succeed. “We ended up having a competition all throughout high school to see who would do better,” Deontre said. All their hard work will pay off in college. Both have been awarded full electrical engineering scholarships at Ohio State University. Competition can often bring out the best in people and inspire them to achieve success. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person for whom competition provided inspiration or motivation. Use what you read to write a personal column discussing the benefits of “positive competition.” In your column, include times when competition gave you inspiration or motivation to achieve success.

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.

2. A Milestone Appointment

Lonnie G. Bunch III made history as the founding director of the nation’s acclaimed National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Now Bunch has made history again, becoming the first African American named leader of the Smithsonian Institution, the parent organization of the African American museum, 18 other museums and the National Zoo. As secretary of the Smithsonian, Bunch will oversee a staff of 6,800 people and collections of almost 155 million items in some of the most historic museum buildings in the nation. After making the African American museum one of the most popular attractions in Washington, Bunch said that being the first African American in the Smithsonian post “will open doors for others.” Like Lonnie G. Bunch III, many people “open doors for others” by their achievements, character and example. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such a person. Use what you read to write a personal letter to the person, thanking him/her for “opening doors” and telling why that is important to the community or nation.

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

3. ‘Drowning in Plastic’

Plastic pollution is a well-known problem in the world’s oceans, but a new study from a remote group of islands has demonstrated how overwhelming the problem has become in some areas. The study conducted in the remote Cocos Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean found the area “literally drowning in plastic,” with an estimated 414-million items of plastic waste washed up on beaches. Included in the plastic pollution in the area west of the nation of Australia were nearly one-million shoes such as flipflops and sneakers and more than 370,000 toothbrushes. As disturbing as the numbers are, they may just be the “tip of the iceberg,” according to the study’s lead author, Jennifer Lavers. That’s because 90 percent of the plastic found was buried in the sand, not just on the surface. That would indicate that surface surveys of beach pollution in the past may have significantly underestimated the amount of plastic pollution, she said. Plastic pollution is a problem for oceans all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ocean plastic pollution. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining steps that nations of the world could take to address the problem.

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. A Very Different Panda

With black and white fur and dark rings around their eyes, giant panda bears are among the most easily recognized animals in the world. In the Asian nation of China, however, a panda has been found that doesn’t look anything like that. For the first time, a panda has been found that has no black fur and is all white from head to toe. The all-white, “albino” panda was discovered living in a national nature reserve in southwestern China and appeared to be one to two years old, wildlife officials reported. “Albinism” is a rare genetic disorder that prevents development of the pigment melanin that gives fur and skin their color. The condition has not appeared to affect the health of the all-white panda. “It looks quite well, quite strong,” one official said. Albinism can occur in all animal species, including humans. The effects of the condition vary from species to species and range from mild to severe. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about albinism in humans and other species. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper comparing the effects of the condition on humans and one other species.

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.

5. Recognizing Burnout

When stressed out by work or studies, adults and students often complained they feel “burned out” by their jobs or activities. Now the World Health Organization has recognized burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis — at least as it applies to employment and job situations. In its new International Classification of Diseases handbook, WHO says doctors may diagnose someone with burnout if the person feels exhausted or without energy, If they have negative feelings or mental distance from their job, or if they are experiencing less professional effectiveness, CNN New reports. No word on if, or when, WHO might include burnout as a diagnosis for students. Recognizing burnout as a medical condition is a health issue that could affect many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another health issue or breakthrough that could affect many people. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, highlighting key things people should know about the issue or breakthrough, and why.

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