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For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 04, 2021

1. The Cost of Covid

The spread of the Covid 19 coronavirus in the United States has come at great cost in human illness and deaths. It has also come at a great cost in money — especially for the unvaccinated. A new analysis of health data has calculated that in the last three months alone the cost for treating unvaccinated Covid 19 patients has totaled $5.7-billion in the nation’s hospitals. The analysis published by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that these hospitalizations were “preventable” had the patients been vaccinated, CNN News reported. Kaiser officials said the hospitalizations of unvaccinated people cost an average of $20,000 each, and “this ballpark figure is likely an understatement.” The Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides facts and analysis of major health care issues facing the nation. Health and government officials continue to struggle to get more people vaccinated against the Covid 19 coronavirus and its variants. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about efforts by local, state and national leaders to get more people vaccinated and approaches taken by private businesses. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining steps you think could be taken to increase the percentage of Americans who choose to be vaccinated.

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. More Climate Protests

Before the coronavirus forced schools and communities to shut down, teen activist Greta Thunberg drew international attention for organizing students around the world to take to the streets to protest global warming and climate change. Her Fridays for Future movement inspired millions of students to join protests in more than 150 nations calling on political leaders to take action to address the “crisis” of climate change. Last week, young people from around the world gathered in the streets again in the first big, in person climate protests since the start of the coronavirus epidemic. And more may be coming later this month when world leaders meet to discuss climate change at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. That summit of world leaders will assess progress that has been made to curb global warming and reduce greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. Thunberg said last week she wants to see leaders do more than talk, which she said was a lot of “blah blah blah” in speech last week. “This is all we hear from our so-called leaders,” she said. “Words that sound great but so far have not led to action.” Public protests often can be effective calling attention to issues. In the newspaper find and closely read stories about protests planned ahead of the U.N. Conference in Glasgow or protests involving other issues. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor assessing how effective the protests have been or other tactics that might be more effective.

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.

3. Ancient Footprints

Archaeologists who study human history have long agreed that people first came to the Americas across a land bridge that connected the continent of Asia to what is now the U.S. state of Alaska in the distant past. The great mystery has always been WHEN did humans make that migration. For decades scientists have felt it took place at the end of the last Ice Age about 13,000 years ago. Now fossil footprints found in the state of New Mexico may show that humans were living in the Americas much earlier than that. The footprints discovered at White Sands National Park date back 23,000 years, scientists who have studied them reported this fall. That would indicate humans were in North America when glaciers and ice from the Ice Age still covered much of the land and that humans had found paths through or around the ice to move south from Alaska, the New York Times newspaper reported. Fossil discoveries can give scientists information about how ancient people lived or moved from place to place. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a fossil discovery that does this. Use what you read to create a poster or PowerPoint presentation explaining the discovery and why it is important. Use images from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your poster/PowerPoint.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Reconstruction

The Reconstruction period after the U.S. Civil War was supposed to heal the wounds of the nation and forge a new beginning for the country after the abolishment of slavery. But for African Americans, Reconstruction opened new wounds, as Southern states sought to re-establish a system of racial oppression that existed before the war and African Americans struggled to prevent it. The hopes and shortcomings of the Reconstruction period are getting renewed attention this fall in an exhibit that has just opened at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Titled “Make Good the Promises: Reconstruction and Its Legacies,” the exhibit tells the story of Reconstruction through artifacts of the period — and connects the challenges of Reconstruction to events of today. “While some gains were made, this was also a period of voter suppression … violence and unlawful incarceration,” museum director Kevin Young told the Washington Post newspaper. “Because of the work left unfinished … and the decades of discrimination that followed, the struggle … continues in society today.” During Reconstruction, African Americans achieved the rights of citizenship, voting and property ownership through amendments to the U.S. Constitution. But Reconstruction also led to local Jim Crow laws that established a system of “institutional racism” that is still being dealt with today. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories of communities addressing issues reflecting racial attitudes or discrimination from the past. Use what you read to write paper or political column about such issues and how they should be handled.

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;

5. Singing Plumber

Anyone with artistic talent dreams of being discovered and earning “fame and fortune.” And it doesn’t just happen on TV shows like “America’s Got Talent,” “The Voice” or “American Idol.” A plumber in the European nation of England was discovered while fixing up a bathroom for a homeowner. Plumber Kev Crane likes to sing while he’s working and is even known as “the singing plumber” by some customers in the English county of Leicestershire. Not long ago he gave one of his private concerts in the home of Paul Conneally, and he wound up getting the break of his life. Conneally had started a record company just last year and when he heard Crane’s voice he offered him a contract! “I was gobsmacked,” Crane told the Washington Post. “It’s something you read about that happens to somebody else. You don’t expect it to happen to you.” With Conneally’s help, Crane put together an album of eight original songs that was released on various streaming services this summer. “People are listening to him from all over the world,” Conneally said. In the arts and entertainment world, people get discovered in many different ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person who has been discovered recently. Pretend you are a TV arts reporter and plan an interview with this person. Write out five questions you would like to ask — and state why.

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.