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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Apr 27, 2020

1. Vote by Mail?

The coronavirus emergency has upended life in all aspects of American society. It’s not known how long society will be disrupted and in what ways in the months ahead. One of the biggest worries for many Americans is what effect the virus will have on the presidential election in November. Will people want to stand in line and use public voting machines to cast their ballots if there is still a risk of infection? One way to deal with the situation, according to a new poll, would be to allow people to vote by mail. According to the poll conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal newspaper, two-thirds of U.S. voters support allowing people to vote by mail in this year’s presidential election, while just 29 percent oppose the idea. Support breaks down significantly along party lines: 88 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of independents support mail voting, but just 44 percent of Republicans like the idea. Voting by mail in the presidential election is getting a lot of attention across the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and read editorials, columns and commentaries about the issue. Discuss the issue with family and friends. Then write a commentary of your own, detailing your opinion about whether more mail voting should be allowed. Be sure to use evidence from your reading to support your opinion.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

2. Health Tracking

Those square, scrambled-looking QR codes have become widely popular with smart phone users for everything from boarding airplanes to learning about new products to accessing websites. In the Asian nation of China, a version of the QR code is now being used to record the health status of users and regulate their movements as the nation seeks to recover from the coronavirus. The Chinese government has developed a color-based “health code” system to control people’s movements and curb the spread of the virus. To obtain a health code, citizens have to fill in their personal information, report their travel history and whether they have come into contact with any coronavirus patients in the previous 14 days, CNN News reports. They also need to check boxes for any symptoms they might have such as fever, fatigue, dry cough, stuffy nose, running nose, sore throat or diarrhea. After the information is verified, each user is assigned a QR code in red, amber or green. Only users with green codes can move about freely. Red codes have to quarantine for 14 days and amber for seven. The health codes also are used to track people’s movements in public areas, as residents have their QR codes scanned as they enter public places. Chinese officials say the use of QR codes is helping curb the spread of the coronavirus. Some civil rights leaders in China and elsewhere worry that the program could be used to track the movements of citizens for reasons not connected to the virus. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the use of QR codes in China or other countries. Use what you read to write an editorial weighing the benefits and risks of such programs.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

3. Immigration Ban

Since he first started campaigning for the White House, President Trump has vowed to crack down on illegal immigration. Now he is targeting legal immigration as well. Last week he signed an executive order pausing the issuing of new “green cards” for people seeking U.S. residence to protect Americans from the coronavirus and to protect American jobs from foreign workers who might take them. The move caught some senior officials off guard, but it is in keeping with the President’s view that the nation would be stronger with tighter immigration rules. The coronavirus, which he called “the Invisible Enemy,” gave him a reason to tighten controls on immigration, though the executive order contains broad exceptions to some categories of people seeking to enter the country. “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” the President said in announcing the move. President Trump continues to seek tougher controls on immigration. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about things he is saying on the topic. Use what you read to draw a series of editorial cartoons giving your opinion on his positions. Look up examples of editorial cartoons on the Internet to see how they use art to express opinions. Discuss cartoons with family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

4. 106 and a Survivor!

Since the start of the coronavirus emergency, doctors have worried most about the elderly. Thousands of deaths have occurred in nursing homes and among elderly people taken to hospitals for breathing problems. In the European nation of England, however, a 106-year-old woman has recovered from the virus and is possibly the oldest survivor in the world. Connie Titchen was admitted in mid-March to a hospital in the city of Birmingham and was discharged three weeks later. At first doctors thought she had pneumonia, but shortly thereafter she tested positive for coronavirus, CNN News reported. “She is our oldest patient to beat the virus,” a hospital spokesman said when she was released. Nurses at the hospital lined the corridor to applaud the great-grandmother of eight as she was wheeled out to be sent home. “I can't wait to see my family,” Titchen said. The news is full of stories about people who have survived the coronavirus. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about such survivors. Use what you read to brainstorm and plan a special TV show about survivors. Write an outline for your show, including images you would use. Then write a narrative telling what would happen in the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing visual and textual evidence when writing or speaking.

5. Binge Harry Movies

Most Harry Potter fans don’t need an excuse to rewatch the Harry Potter movies. But an education resource website is giving them an excuse anyway. is offering a $1,000 dream job to five lucky fans who are willing to watch all eight Harry Potter films and both Fantastic Beasts spin-off films — and livestream or live-tweet their reactions to them. At the end, fans will be asked to rank each of the movies and share their rankings online. To be eligible, contestants must be 18 years old or older, eligible to work in the United States, active on social media and willing to tag @getedsmart and/or #getedsmart to share observations during their Potter binge. Applications are being taken online until through May 15 and require a 200-word sales pitch telling why you would be best for the job. With movie theaters closed, many movie critics are writing columns about favorite movies from the past. In the newspaper or online, find and read one or more of these columns. Then think like a movie critic and write a column of your own listing favorite movies you have seen. Write a paragraph for each movie, telling what you liked about it and why you would watch it again.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.