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For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 12, 2012

1. An Olympian at 71

Hiroshi Hoketsu won’t be the oldest Olympian in history if he competes this summer. Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn holds that title after winning a silver medal at age 72 at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics. But Hoketsu, who recently qualified for the Summer Olympics this year in London, will be close at age 71 at the time the Games begin. Hoketsu qualified in horseback riding by winning an international dressage meet in France two weeks ago. This won’t be the first Olympics for the Japanese rider. He competed in the Beijing Olympics in China in 2008 and qualified for the Seoul Olympics in South Korea in 1988. Find an inspiring Olympics story in your newspaper. Or find one online. Write a short, clear summary of the story.

Core/National Standard: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience.

2. Beware the Ides of March

The Roman emperor Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44 BCE. In Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar," the ruler is told by a soothsayer to "beware the Ides of March" — which was the Roman way of saying March 15. Imagine you are a soothsayer writing a horoscope for a newsmaker. The message will be sent to the person on March 15, 2012. What would you say? Share your message with the class. For added fun, write a scene from a play or movie script based on your message. Then check out the original “Julius Caesar” story by reading the play or a summary of the play online.

Core/National Standard: Reading and writing fluently, speaking confidently, listening and interacting appropriately, viewing critically and representing creatively.

3. Talk or Trash?

It’s safe to say it’s been a controversial couple of weeks for conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh. The talk radio host called a 30-year-old Georgetown University law student a “prostitute” and other derogatory names after she testified before Congress in support of national healthcare policies that would require employers to offer health insurance plans that include birth control for women, according to an Associated Press article. Democrats and Republicans alike blasted Limbaugh for his remarks. Nine companies have pulled their advertising from his program including Quicken Loans, Legal Zoom, Sears and Capital One. In addition, two radio stations dumped his show. Officials at WBEC in Massachusetts said, “While we understand the controversial nature of talk radio and encourage political discourse, we believe there are ways to do that without exceeding the bounds of civility.” Find a newspaper or Internet article about the controversy. As a class, discuss what actions, if any, should be taken against Limbaugh’s show. What would be the most effective approach? Would any in your class take the show off the air?

Core/National Standards: Presenting information, findings and supporting evidence in a clear and distinct manner; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

4. Never Forget

Ernie Gross weighed just 85 pounds on April 29, 1945. After nearly a year of near starvation, abuse and constant sickness, he was sure his life of torture at the hands of the Nazis in the Dachau concentration camp would end that day. Instead, Don Greenbaum and thousands of other American soldiers arrived near the end of World War II to rescue him and hundreds of other prisoners. More than 60 years later, the two men met. Gross found Greenbaum after reading an article in the newspaper. He sought out Greenbaum to thank him for coming to rescue him from certain death. Now the two talk about their experiences at local synagogues and schools and are looking for other Dachau survivors and liberators to share their stories. Find a newspaper story about people trying to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. Or find an example online. Write a summary of the story.

Core/National Standard: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience,

5. But It’s Diet!

It’s OK to drink soda as long as it’s diet. That has long been the belief of people who want to enjoy the refreshing carbonation without the calories. But studies recently have shown that diet soda can have a negative health impact on consumers, according to a Yahoo! News article. Studies showed drinking diet sodas daily could increase the risks for heart attacks and strokes by 43 percent. One study showed a 30 percent drop in kidney function in women. And even though many drink diet soda to lose weight, a University of Texas study found that participants who drank diet sodas had a 70 percent greater increase in waist circumference compared to those who drank no diet sodas. With the newspaper and the Internet, do some research about the health effects of sodas, diet sodas and sports drinks. Write a short research paper summarizing their health impact.

Core/National Standard: Conducting short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question or solve a problem.