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For Grades 9-12 , week of Feb. 20, 2012

1. The Economic Future

It’s the Democrats’ fault. No! It’s the Republicans’ fault. Everyone points fingers at everyone else when they want to find someone to blame for the state of the economy and unemployment in our country. And while the economy is starting to rally, according to a U.S. News and World Report article, many people are wondering if it will last. Experts say there are six major things that could still have a negative effect on the economy: prolonged unemployment, another dip in housing prices, the recession in Europe, consumers continuing to struggle with debt, the slowing of corporate profits and the performance of the U.S. Congress. Currently there are 6 million fewer people employed than in 2008, the article said. Coming up for votes in Congress in the next year are federal spending cuts and an extension of America’s borrowing limit. Find a newspaper story about the economy or unemployment. Discuss the impact the news in the story could have on your community.

Core/National Standards: Effectively engaging in a range of collaborative discussions; explaining the overall rate of economic growth and the relative stagnation of wages since 1973.

2. States of Matter

Matter comes in three basic states — liquid, solid and gas. Water is an interesting substance, because we commonly see it in all three forms of matter: as ice, as a liquid and as steam or vapor. Using a newspaper article as a guide, write a brief account, in the style of a news story, about water that changed from one state to another.

Core/National Standard: Describing how water exists on Earth in three states.

3. Tracking Diseases

Just when you thought the risks of swine flu might be subsiding, the rate of incidents is on the rise, according to an Associated Press article. Mexican officials registered more cases of all types of flu and more incidents of the H1N1 swine flu strain in the month of January than in all of 2011. The country’s health secretary said there have been 1,623 cases of flu in Mexico and 90 percent of them are H1N1, or swine flu. Of those who contracted the flu, 32 have died, and all but three had H1N1. Find a newspaper article about a health issue. Create charts and graphs using statistics on how it affects people in the U.S. and around the world.

Core/National Standard: Using mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry including asking questions, gathering information, and organizing and presenting data

4. Race and Intolerance

February is Black History Month in our country, but incidents still occur that remind us that things may not have come are far as we believe. According to a Yahoo! Sports article, fans from Brentwood High School, a nearly all-white suburban school near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ran onto the court in banana suits and made monkey noises to taunt players from nearby Monessen High, a predominantly African American school. It was reported that they were “hurling racial epithets” at the Monessen players, and a news reporter at the game said the Brentwood director of security did nothing to stop it. Find a newspaper article of a situation or event in which someone experiences some type of discrimination. Or find an example online. Discuss it as a class, and write a short newspaper editorial expressing your views on the situation.

Core/National Standard: Effectively engaging in a range of collaborative discussions; writing with a point of view to persuade an audience.

5. A Dream Denied

Alejandrina Cabrera wants to serve her community as a member of the city council of San Luis, Arizona. That won’t happen, however, because the Arizona state Supreme Court upheld a lower-court ruling barring city council candidates with limited English skills from appearing on a ballot. According to a Reuters article, a Yuma County Superior Court judge sparked a furor when he “disqualified Cabrera from running for the city council because of what he called, ‘a large gap’ between her English proficiency and that required to serve as a public official.” The city of about 25,000 people sits on the border of Mexico and is largely bilingual. Find a newspaper article focusing on a legal issue of some type. Write an evaluation of the arguments used on both sides of the issue.

Core/National Standard: Delineating and evaluating the arguments and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient.