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For Grades 9-12 , week of Dec. 16, 2019

1. Impeachment Divisions

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on articles of impeachment against President Trump. If the articles are approved, Trump would be just the third sitting president to be impeached in U.S. history (a fourth resigned before an impeachment vote). The impeachment effort has deepened divisions between Democrats and Republicans in Congress and across the nation. Democrats, who control the House, believe the President has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” by abusing the power of his office for personal gain and obstructing the House investigation into his misconduct. Republicans argue that the President has done nothing wrong, or nothing that would merit impeachment. The effort to impeach Trump was set in motion by revelations that the President had pressured the president of the European nation of Ukraine to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son in connection with release of security aid from the United States. The impeachment debate has divided and embittered both Republicans and Democrats. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about these divisions. Use what you read to write a political column assessing how you feel divisions over impeachment will affect or color politics over the next year.

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. Honor for a Teen

Time magazine’s Person of the Year award is one of the top honors given to world leaders each year. This month, Time made history by giving it to the youngest person ever. Sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg was chosen for mobilizing millions of teens and young adults to fight climate change and pressure government leaders to take action. From her base in the European nation of Sweden, Thunberg launched a worldwide protest movement that inspired students to leave their classes to protest government inaction on global warming, and she used appearances before the United Nations to challenge them directly. “I shouldn’t be up here,” she said at a United Nations climate summit. “I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you have come to us young people for hope. If you choose to fail us, we will never forgive you.” In announcing the award, Time’s editor-in-chief said “She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement.” Greta Thunberg is a teen who has been honored for making a difference. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another teen who is making a difference. Use what you read to prepare a multi-media presentation outlining this teen’s efforts and why they are important. Use images from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your presentation.

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; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Nativity Protest

For the world’s Christians, the story of the Nativity is one of the holiest — and most familiar — in the Bible. It tells how the baby Jesus was born in a stable when his parents Mary and Joseph could find no place to stay in the town of Bethlehem. Nativity scenes are a familiar sight at churches during the Christmas season and a reminder that Jesus spent his life serving the poor, the homeless and those most in need. In southern California this month, a church outside the city of Los Angeles is using its Nativity scene to call attention to poor and homeless refugees who are seeking to enter the United States. The Nativity at Claremont United Methodist Church shows Jesus, Mary and Joseph separated and caged in chain link enclosures as real-life refugees have been separated and held at the U.S.-Mexican border. In a Facebook post, the senior minister for the church said it wanted to connect their story to that of “the most well-known refugee family in the world.” Jesus, Joseph and Mary were far from home at the time of Jesus’ birth and later had to flee to Egypt to escape persecution by King Herod. The Nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church is form of protest that upsets people’s expectations and forces them to think in new ways about issues facing the nation. Protests often disrupt traditional events or thinking to get people to address problems. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a protest that does this. Use what you read to write a letter discussing how effective you think the protest was.

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.

4. Polar Bear Invasion

Global warming is affecting wildlife, people and communities all over the world. In a town in the nation of Russia, warmer temperatures have led to an invasion of polar bears. According to authorities, about 60 polar bears have descended on the remote eastern town of Ryrkayply in search of food. The bears have been going through garbage and feeding on dead walruses that have washed up on the shoreline of the Arctic Ocean across the Bering Strait from the U.S. state of Alaska. With so many bears wandering through the community, public events have had to be canceled and children bused to school. Bear patrols have been set up to keep the bears at a distance and alert people of their movements. Authorities say the bears have come to the town because warmer temperatures have melted sea ice on which they would normally hunt. “Almost all of the bears are thin,” one local official noted. Global warming is affecting people, wildlife and communities all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effect that warming is having. Use what you read to draw two editorial cartoons offering your views on the impact of warming, and what might be done to address it. Before you start, you may want to use the newspaper or Internet to see how editorial cartoons use art to express opinions. Share cartoons and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Looser Social Rules

The Middle East nation of Saudi Arabia is a country in which religious beliefs have had great influence on government policies. Saudis follow a strict form of Wahhabi Islam and that has meant numerous restrictions on the rights of women and bans against men and women mingling in public places. This month, in a move that will have wide impact on Saudi life, the government loosened one restriction on the mixing of the sexes. Restaurants in Saudi Arabia are no longer required to have separate entrances for men and women. The move is part of a series of measures designed to loosen strict social rules and “modernize” Saudi Arabia. In August, the government lifted a ban on Saudi women holding passports and traveling abroad without the consent of a male guardian, CNN News reported. Women have also been granted the right to drive and to attend sporting events in mixed-sex audiences. Women in many countries do not have the rights that women enjoy in the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about women seeking to obtain rights in other countries. Use what you read to write a short editorial exploring how the United States and other countries could help women in other nations achieve or expand their rights.

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.