For Grades 9-12 , week of June 20, 2022

1. Action on Guns?

Gun control has been one of the most divisive issues in American politics, with Democrats and Republicans having sharply different views on what — if anything — should be done to prevent mass shootings. Now, for the first time in years, U.S. senators from both parties have come together to propose changes that could tighten safety rules and make public places safer. The bipartisan group of 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats is proposing a package that would provide extra scrutiny for gun buyers under the age of 21, offer grants to states to implement so-called red flag laws that would alert authorities about people who could pose a risk to public safety and authorize new spending on mental health treatment and school security. The support of 10 Republicans would mean that the measure could not be blocked by opponents in the Senate using a procedure called the “filibuster.” In a filibuster, senators can prevent a vote on a bill unless 60 of 100 Senators vote to proceed. The bipartisan proposal does not include a ban on assault weapons, as proposed by President Biden and other Democrats. Nevertheless, the President supports the measure as a step in the right direction. “The sooner it comes to my desk, the sooner I can sign it,” he said, “and the sooner we can use these measures to save lives.” Passage of the bipartisan gun control legislation would be a significant achievement for the U.S. Senate. It also will be a challenge. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about what is happening to the measure in the Senate this week. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining the biggest challenges or obstacles the measure faces, and how they can be overcome.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

2. ‘Belieber’ Worries

Since he burst on the music scene as a teenager, singer Justin Bieber has attracted millions of fans around the world and sold more than 150-million records. Now, at age 28, the Canadian singer is making news in a way that is causing worry and concern among his army of “Belieber” fans. In the middle of his “Justice World Tour,” the singing superstar announced that he has been diagnosed with a rare medical condition that has paralyzed the right side of his face. Bieber’s diagnosis with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome has made it impossible to blink his right eye, move his right nostril or smile on the right side of his face, he announced on the Instagram social media site. It also has made it “progressively harder to eat.” Bieber’s diagnosis has forced him to cancel a series of performances, including those scheduled for New York City, Washington, DC and Toronto, Canada, People magazine reports. “This is pretty serious as you can see,” Bieber said in an Instagram video. “I wish this wasn’t the case, but obviously my body is telling me I got to slow down. I hope you guys understand. I’ll be using this time to rest and relax and get back to 100 percent so that I can do what I was born to do.” When celebrities or their families are diagnosed with medical conditions, it draws attention to how those conditions affect people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a famous person who is dealing with a medical condition or situation. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing how the celebrity’s experience can increase awareness about the condition and help others who have it.

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

3. Hotel, Museum & Ruins!

When people travel the world, two things are always popular attractions: historic sites and nice hotels. In the Eur-Asian nation of Turkey, a new hotel provides both under one roof. The Antakya Museum Hotel is built over an archaeological site that includes a huge tile mosaic, statues, thermal baths and villas that date back 2,000 years to the ancient Roman Empire. The mosaic was discovered when construction workers began digging the foundation for the hotel in the city of Antakya. It is considered the largest ancient mosaic ever discovered and was created over hundreds of years and 15 centuries, archaeologists say. Its discovery prompted a change in the hotel’s design, transforming it from just a place to stay into a combination hotel and museum. A series of suspended ramps and bridges allows visitors to glimpse the mosaic and ruins below and access the archaeological site. From street level, a public pathway allows visitors to stroll among the ruins. Archaeologists believe this huge mosaic was the floor of a public building in the ancient city of Antioch, which was one of the area’s most important cities in ancient times. Earthquakes and other shifts in the earth give the mosaic an undulating appearance, as if it were gently rolling hills covered by a beautiful carpet. Hotels often incorporate attractions or features from their surroundings to appeal to visitors. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a hotel that does this. Use what you read to create a series of one-minute television ads promoting this hotel. Pick images you would show from the newspaper or Internet and write the text for each ad. Read your text aloud to make sure each ad does not run longer than one minute.

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.

4. 4 Day Work Week

In the United States and other nations, most work weeks are five days long. But would workers be more productive if they worked less? An experiment in the European nation of England is looking to find an answer to that question by having employees work four days instead of five — with no drop in pay. The experiment will last for six months and involve 3,300 workers from 70 companies, according to the 4 Day Week Campaign, which is running the program with the 4 Day Week Global non-profit group and researchers from a think tank and three universities. The experimental program is the largest of its kind ever undertaken. Participating workers receive 100 percent of their pay for working 80 percent of their usual time in exchange for promising to maintain 100 percent of their productivity. Businesses taking part range from financial services companies to bookstores to restaurants. Other 4 Day Week programs are being planned in the nations of Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. Supporters of four-day work weeks say they improve productivity, increase work-life balance and improve the mental health and wellbeing of employees. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different jobs and what they are like for workers. Pick one or two and write a business column examining how a four-day work week could have positive or negative effects on workers in these jobs.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.

5. She’s an EGOT

Actress and singer Jennifer Hudson has been many things in her career. Now, at age 40, she has become an EGOT. An EGOT is someone who has won each of the four major American entertainment awards: an Emmy (for television), a Grammy (for music), an Oscar (for movies) and a Tony (for a stage performance). She completed her EGOT journey by winning a Tony Award this month as a co-producer for “A Strange Loop,” which won the top honor for best musical in New York’s famed Broadway theater district. She previously had won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for “Dreamgirls,” Grammys for her self-titled debut album and the Musical Theater Album for “The Color Purple” and a Daytime Emmy for Best Interactive Media as an executive producer for the animated film “Baba Yaga.” She is just the second Black woman (after Whoopi Goldberg) to earn EGOT status and the third-youngest EGOT winner overall. Jennifer Hudson is multi-talented and has found success in four different entertainment fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another person who has found success in more than one field. Use what you read to create a Venn diagram showing how the skills needed for success in the different fields are similar or different. Share your diagram with the class and explain.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; organizing data using lists, concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.