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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 20, 2017

1. Hate Crimes Rising

Hate crimes are a growing problem in the United States, according to the latest statistics released by the FBI. In 2016, there were more than 6,100 reported incidents of hate crimes, an increase from more than 5,800 the year before, the FBI said. According to statistics submitted by law enforcement agencies across the country, nearly six in 10 victims of hate crimes were targeted due to bias against the victim’s race or ethnicity last year. There also was an increase in crimes involving bias against Jews, Muslims and LGBT people, according to the FBI. The FBI defines a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Hate crimes are painful experiences for both victims and whole communities. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about the effects of hate crimes. Pick one example and write a short editorial offering your view on how the community should respond, and how that could be a positive example for other communities.

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.

2. Amazing Comeback

Sports coaches often tell their teams to “never give up.” A high school football team in Minneapolis, Minnesota showed why. Trailing 27-10 with just over 60 seconds left in the game, Maple Grove High School scored three touchdowns to win 29-27 and advance to the semifinals in the state championship tournament. After scoring a touchdown with just over a minute left, the team twice recovered short “onside” kicks and scored touchdowns to achieve the unlikely win. “It just shows as bad as things might seem for you, you can never give up,” Maple Grove coach Matt Lombardi said to his team after the game. “You have to keep playing and hope things fall in your favor.” Comebacks are some of the most exciting stories in sports. Comebacks also occur in other fields when people overcome problems or setbacks. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read one story about a sports comeback and one story about a non-sports comeback. Write a paragraph or short essay, comparing the qualities that people in both stories had that enabled them to come back and succeed.

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.

3. ‘Rings’ Coming to TV

In the history of movies, the “Lord of the Rings” films were among the most popular of all time, selling nearly $6 BILLION in tickets at theaters around the world. Now the “Rings” story is coming to television as a series produced by Amazon Studios. No cast has been picked for the series, but Amazon announced it will be set in a time before the events of the 2001 feature film “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the first of three movies telling the “Ring” story. The movies and the TV series are based on the Middle Earth books written by J.R.R. Tolkien. What does it take to become a popular movie or TV show? As a class, discuss popular movies and shows and why you think they are successful. Then use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about a popular show or movie that you like. Write a review for the newspaper, detailing the reasons you think this show or movie is popular.

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.

4. Marathon Man

All over the country, wounded veterans struggle to adjust to life after sustaining a military injury. Rob Jones, who lost both legs as a Marine in the Afghanistan war, wants to inspire them to embrace the challenges of recovery. To make that point Jones ran 31 marathons in 31 days in 31 cities this fall to raise money for wounded veteran charities and “change the narrative” of what it’s like to be a wounded veteran. “I decided I would create this story of a veteran that was wounded and thrived from it,” Jones said minutes after finishing his 31st marathon on Veterans Day in Washington, D.C. “I think I accomplished that mission.” All over the country, runners joined the 32-year-old Jones as he ran the distance of a 26-mile marathon each day. Rob Jones did an extraordinary thing to inspire others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person doing something extraordinary that inspires others. Use what you read to write a poem, song, rap or rhyme about this person’s action, how they inspire others and how they make you and others feel.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

5. ‘Dumbphones’

All over the world people are turning to smart phones because of all the things they can do. Yet as smart phones are programmed to do more and more, they grow more and more complicated. As a result, some users feel overwhelmed by all the choices. In response to that, several companies are now offering simpler, less complicated phones. A Punkt brand phone, for example, lets you talk, text, set an alarm and use a calendar and not much more. A Light phone only makes and takes calls. And Nokia has launched a “back to basics” version of its mobile device. “We’ve hit a point where we can pretty much do everything with phones,” said Darren Zygadlo, an analyst and reviewer of phone options. “I think some people are finding themselves saying, ‘What do I need all that for?’” Sometimes simplicity can be a good thing. As a class, discuss situations in which keeping things simple and uncomplicated can be a benefit or help people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a situation in which simplicity would be a benefit. Use what you read to write a short editorial titled “Keep It Simple,” explaining why simplicity is the way to go in this situation. Discuss editorials as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.


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