For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 02, 2020

1. Election 2020

Tuesday is Election Day, and regardless of who wins the race for president the contest will be one for the history books. For starters, more than 90-million people cast votes early by mail or in person at early voting sites. That means it will take longer to count the votes than in most years, because early votes were not cast on machines and will have to be counted by hand. Unless there is an overwhelming majority for one candidate on election night, it could be days before voters know whether President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden won the race for president, or who won hotly contested races for U.S. Senate and the U.S. House around the country. Even then the results may be challenged with calls for a recount or legal action in the courts. President Trump has said he will challenge mail-in votes if he loses because, he has said, mail votes pose a greater risk for fraud. Democrats say they will be monitoring the voting closely for voter suppression or intimidation. Election officials say there has been no record of significant fraud due to mail-in voting in the past, but both parties have lined up lawyers should the results wind up in court. Election results often are challenged in states or races where the outcome is close. After Election Day, use the newspaper or Internet to follow the reaction of Republicans and Democrats to results in different states in the race for president. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing which states are most likely to face challenges, and why.

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

2. Art Mystery Solved

Jacob Lawrence was one of the great African American painters of the 20th century, whose work focused on Black life in America, events from American history and the struggles found in historical events for people of color. Some of those struggles have been on view in a traveling exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art over the last two months in New York City. But there were pieces missing from the display. Five of the 30 paintings Lawrence painted for his historical series “Struggle: From the History of the American People” could not be located when the exhibit was put together by the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts. Now there is one less mystery to solve about the series, thanks to an alert New York museum-goer. A woman visiting the Met exhibit noticed how closely the works resembled a painting that hung in the apartment of two of her neighbors. She convinced the neighbors to contact the Met, and lo and behold, the neighbors’ painting was a panel from the series that represented the Shays’ Rebellion of farmers in Massachusetts before the Revolutionary War. The owners, who are elderly, had bought the painting at a charity auction years ago. They happily let it be added to the exhibit as it travels to other cities. The Jacob Lawrence exhibit got a lot of attention in the two months it was on display in New York City. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other museum exhibits that are getting attention in your community, state or the nation. Pick one and write an art review telling why you would want to see it, and what people could learn by viewing it in person or online.

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. Army-Navy Moves

One of the greatest rivalries in college football is the yearly Army-Navy game in which the nation’s oldest military academies face off against each other. This year, for the first time since 1943, the game will be played at West Point, New York, home of the Army team. In most years, the game has been played at neutral locations in large cities like Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or New York City, but this year it was moved due to the coronavirus epidemic. It had been scheduled for Philadelphia, but the city’s restrictions on large crowds made holding the game there impossible. The Army-Navy game was first held in 1890 and is one of the longest running rivalries in college sports. Navy leads the series 61-52 and won the 2019 game 31-7. This year’s game will be held on December 21. The coronavirus has brought changes or cancellations for some long-running traditions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these changes. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor explaining how these changes will affect people and the traditions they like.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. Moon Water

In the search for life in our solar system, America’s NASA space agency has always lived by the motto “Look for the water.” Water is the building block for life, and without it living things cannot exist. NASA scientists have paid special attention to the Earth’s moon and were excited when space missions found evidence that water may have existed there in the past. Now a pair of new studies indicate there may still be water on the moon — and more than previously thought. Up to now, scientists have focused on the moon’s polar regions as locations where water and ice might be found. One of the new studies indicates it may also be found underground in less frigid areas. The other study said polar water and ice could exist in formations smaller than the deep craters near the moon’s poles. That would make it easier for future astronauts or rover spacecraft to collect and use, the New York Times reported. Ice recovered this way could not only provide water to drink but its molecules could be broken up to provide oxygen to breathe and hydrogen to use as fuel. The moon is not the only place scientists think water could exist in the solar system. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about discoveries that could indicate water might exist on other planets. Use what you read to create a chart or poster showing places in the solar system where water may exist. Present your chart to family, classmates or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Book Sale Bonanza

The coronavirus epidemic has had huge impact on businesses across the United States and around the world. Lockdown orders have forced businesses to shut down or reduce hours, and some have had to close altogether. In New York City, the Strand Bookstore faced that fate recently when it announced that a 70 percent drop in sales had made the business “unsustainable.” Owner Nancy Bass Wyden asked supporters to “mobilize the community” to “#savethestrand” by doing holiday shopping early. The response was overwhelming for the 93-year-old store that had been started by Wyden’s grandfather. The weekend after her plea, customers placed more than 25,000 orders online, bringing in more than $170,000 in sales. In-person shopping also was up at the Strand’s two New York City locations. The influx of revenue solved the Strand’s cash crunch — for now. Wyden told the Washington Post she hoped to keep the store open until the end of the year and then re-evaluate. She said, however, that she would not “give up without a fight.” Businesses are trying new things to survive in the face of the coronavirus epidemic. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a busines that has done this. Use what you read to prepare a two-minute TV news report about what the business has done. Write an outline for your report, including images you would use. Then write the text for your report. Read the text aloud and time it to make sure it does not run longer than two minutes. Present your report to classmates, family or friends.

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