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For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 13, 2023

1. ‘High Seas’ Protection

Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and are home to more than 240,000 different species of marine animals. Many of those are threatened or endangered by global warming, pollution, overfishing, shipping and deep-sea mining for oil and other materials. For the first time, more than 190 nations have agreed on a long-awaited agreement to protect vast areas of the world’s oceans. The agreement approved at a United Nations conference on oceans would protect the biodiversity of species and establish a way to protect areas in international waters outside the control of individual nations. These waters, called the “high seas,” make up two-thirds of the Earth’s ocean surface. Countries that are members of the international United Nations organization have been trying for almost 20 years to reach an agreement on protecting oceans and the species that live in them. “This is absolutely world-changing,” one environmentalist said. International waters generally start 200 nautical miles off the coast of any nation. The new “high seas” agreement is an example of nations working together to achieve a goal. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about nations working together in another way. Use what you read to write to write an editorial detailing how they are working together, why it is important and how it could be a model for nations working together in other ways.

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. Big-Time Reparations

As part of the Black Lives Matter movement, more than a dozen cities and states have begun developing programs that would offer “reparations” to African Americans who were descendants of Black slaves, victims of discrimination or held back by the “systemic racism” of government policies. Reparations are compensation for past abuse or injustice, and may include financial payments or other measures such as college scholarships or housing support. What reparations should look like for wrongs that are hundreds of years old has been a source of great debate across the country. In the city of San Francisco, California, a government-appointed panel has proposed an eye-opening idea to give qualifying Black residents $5-million each in reparations for past injustices. Officials said the payments would not be for descendants of slavery, which was never legal in San Francisco, but for “public policies explicitly created to subjugate Black people.” Needless to say, there has been backlash to the proposal, which would be enormously expensive if only a fraction of the city’s 50,000 Black residents qualified, the Washington Post newspaper reported. The city’s Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the committee’s recommendations later this year after a final report is released. If approved the measure would set a high bar for other reparations programs across the country. People have strong opinions about the idea of offering reparations to African Americans for the injustices of slavery and other events. As a class, divide into teams and hold a debate on the issue. Use the newspaper, Internet and other resources to research the topic. Hold a class debate with one team supporting reparations and another opposing them. Take a vote at the end to measure your class’s feelings.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Super Skating

Speed skating is a sport that requires a combination of strength, stamina, balance and body control. At the speed skating world championships this month, an 18-year-old from the U.S. state of Wisconsin demonstrated an abundance of all four while winning gold medals in three separate events. Jordan Stolz finished first in the 500-meter, 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter races to become the youngest skater to ever win a title at the single-distance championships and the first to win three championships in one competition. Stolz was especially impressive on the high-speed turns, where his strength and balance were on full display. Both competitors and fans marveled how he sped around the turns on the oval course with his skates lined up in perfect position “as if he were on a tightrope,” the New York Times newspaper reported. Laurent Dubreuil, who finished second in the 500, called Stolz’s performance “otherworldly” and compared him to basketball superstar Michael Jordan. “Even with a perfect race, I would still be second,” he said. Young athletes often do amazing things in sports. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a young athlete doing this. Use what you read to write a sports column comparing the advantages and disadvantages of being young in high level sports. Share columns and discuss as a class.

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

4. Floating Dorm?

When students go off to college, one of the things they look forward to is moving into a dorm and making friends. But at many colleges more students have been accepted and enrolled than there is room for in the dorms. At one school in Pennsylvania, students who couldn’t get dorm rooms are living in a convent with a group of Catholic nuns. At a college in California the school is considering a plan to put students on an ocean barge converted into residential space. California State Polytechnic University at Humboldt is considering the plan because it has admitted nearly three times as many students as will fit in the school’s 2,100 dorm spaces. The barge would house about 600 to 800 students in 150 to 300 rooms and would feature a cafeteria and a gym, the Washington Post newspaper reported. The problem is the barge is in Arcata Bay more than 8 miles from the CalPoly campus, and students aren’t sure they want to live on a floating facility that could become unstable in bad weather. Last month students staged a protest to the plan, carrying signs opposing what one called a “Prison Boat.” School officials hope a location near restaurants, shops and bars will make the barge plan appealing to enough students to fill its rooms. They hope people will come to think of it not as a barge but asi“a floating hotel or a floating cruise ship.” Students going off to college have to make many adjustments to how they live, and housing is always a big one. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about adjustments students have to make at college. Use what you read to write and design an “Off to College” brochure offering tips for first year college students.

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. Military for 2nd BTS Star

The BTS band is a supergroup in the world of K-pop music. So it was not surprising that millions of fans were disappointed last summer when BTS announced it was taking a break from performing. At the time, the band from the Asian nation of South Korea said they were pausing so that band members could pursue individual careers and projects. One of those “projects” was military service, which is required of all young men in South Korea between the ages of 18 and 28. BTS members were given permission to postpone their enlistment until age 30 because of their contributions to South Korea’s culture and global standing. Band member Jin became the first of the group to enlist in December, when he turned 30. Now a second band member, J-Hope, has taken the first steps toward enlisting. The 29-year-old rapper and dancer said he would not be enlisting “immediately” but had filed paperwork to end the postponement of his military service. Known by fans as Hobi, J-Hope released a 10-track solo album, “Jack In the Box,” last July, and a documentary about the album was released this month on Disney Plus. He assured fans more things are coming. “Though I am doing my military service, I have prepared a variety of things, only for you guys,” he said. What music star or group would you miss most if they announced they were taking a break from performing? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about this group or performer. Use what you read to write a music review or story detailing what the music world would miss if the group or individual gave up music for a while.

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.