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For Grades 9-12 , week of Apr 03, 2023

1. Another First

In four years as president, Donald Trump did a lot of unprecedented things. He was the first president elected with no previous military or government service; he was the first to use Twitter and Facebook as campaign and governing tools; he was the first to be impeached twice, and acquitted twice; and he was the first to refuse to accept that he had lost his bid for re-election. Last week Trump recorded another first: He became the first former president to be indicted on charges he broke the law. A grand jury in New York City voted to indict the former president in connection with a scheme to pay hush money to an adult movie porn star to keep her silent during the 2016 race for president. The porn star claimed to have had an affair with Trump. The former president is expected to surrender to New York authorities this week and have his fingerprints and mug shots taken. The unprecedented move by the Manhattan district attorney’s office set off a firestorm of debate, with Trump and his supporters asserting the indictment was politically motivated and opponents saying no one should be above the law. The charges will not affect Trump’s campaign to recapture the presidency in the 2024 election. Being charged with a crime — or even found guilty — does not disqualify a person from running for office. The indictment of former President Trump is being hotly debated in Washington and around the country. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about reaction from politicians, commentators and the general public. Use what you read to write a commentary of your own on whether an indictment should have been brought in this case and the impact it will have on politics and the criminal justice system.

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. Black Male Teachers

Role models are hugely important for teens, pre-teens and younger children. This is especially true for students who are African American, Latino or other minorities. A new national study published this year found that children taught by teachers of the same race develop better learning and problem-solving skills as students by the time they turn 7 years old, CNN News reports. And that is especially true for African American boys, educators say. That means there is great need — and opportunity —for Black male teachers at all grade levels. Just 1.3 percent of public school teachers were Black men in the 2020-21 school year, according to the National Teacher and Principal Survey, while Black children accounted for 15 percent of public school students. That school year, White women made up 61 percent of public school teachers. To improve the numbers, successful Black educators are urging Black teen men and college students to consider the important role they can play as teachers. “I want to show other males that it’s possible and that you are needed in this space,” said Johnathan Hines, who was the first Black man ever to be named Georgia’s Pre-K Teacher of the Year in 2019. “I see every day the impact that I’m making … just by being there and being present.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the need for more African American men as teachers. Use what you read to create a series of TV or Internet ads to recruit more African American men for the nation’s classrooms. Create an eye-catching theme for your ads that will get the attention of recruits. Write support materials detailing the benefits and impact of Black men as teachers.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

3. Biking for Adventure

It’s often said that teens love adventure and the thrill of doing unusual — even dangerous — things. A teen from the state of California just completed an adventure of a lifetime, and he started it without even telling his parents. Liam Garner rode a bicycle from the northernmost point accessible by road in the United States to the southernmost point of South America. In between, he covered nearly 20,000 miles over 527 days, was robbed “at least five times” and spent a month in a hospital after being thrown from his bike and landing on his head, CNN News reports. Garner, who now 19, started his one-and-a-half year journey at Prudhoe Bay in the U.S. state of Alaska and finished in January in Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. Riding a KHS Zaca mountain bike, he traveled through 14 countries, including Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina. Once he returns to his home city of Long Beach in California, Garner plans to write a book about his trip in the hopes of inspiring other young people to take on an adventure such as his. But first he has a little more traveling to do. After shipping his bike home, he and his girlfriend are backpacking north through South America on the same route he took by bike on his way south. People often have great adventures that challenge them physically, mentally and emotionally. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about someone who has had a challenging adventure. Use what you read to write a personal column detailing the physical, mental and emotional challenges the adventure presented to the person. Compare the person’s adventure to an activity that challenged you physically, mentally or emotionally. Share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Big Foot Help

Teenagers face a lot of challenges as their bodies grow into their adult size and shape. A teen from Goodrich, Michigan has a bigger challenge than most. He has big feet — really, really big feet. At just 14 years old, Eric Kilburn Jr. has already grown to be 6 feet, 10 inches tall and his feet are an eye-popping Size 23. That has presented a problem for his family, because most shoe stores don’t carry anything over a Size 14. Online outlets are not much better, with limited offerings for extra large feet. For nonprofessional athletes, the average shoe size for a man is 10.5, which measures about 11 inches long, the Washington Post newspaper reported. Kilburn’s last shoes were Size 22 and nearly 17 inches from heel to toe. To solve Eric’s problem, a family friend set up an online GoFundMe account to help pay for custom shoes, which can run $1,500 a pair. The effort paid off almost immediately, with online contributions totaling $20,000 in a week. Better yet, the GoFundMe came to the attention of shoe manufacturers, including Under Armour and Puma. The companies offered to make Kilburn his own custom shoes. “Any time we see a story like this, we try to jump into action,” said Max Staiger of Puma. “It’s easy for us to help, and we’re excited to do it.” Physical growth is just one challenge faced by teenagers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other challenges teens face. Use what you read to write a letter offering tips on how to deal with one or more of these challenges. Discuss as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Student Debt Relief

Dealing with the high costs of college causes a lot of stress for students across America. This month, however, students at a historically Black university in the state of Oklahoma got some news that lowered their stress a lot. Langston University announced it is going to clear the books of more than $4.5-million in student debt, after wiping out $4.6-million in in student debt just two years ago. The debt relief of nearly $9.2-million is designed to “lessen the burden” of attending college for the university’s 1,900 undergraduate and graduate students, officials said. To provide the debt relief, the university is using funding from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, a federal government program established in 2020 to financially support academic institutions during the coronavirus epidemic, CNN News reported. Langston is the only historically Black university in Oklahoma and many of its students are the first in their families to go to college. “All of our students and their families make sacrifices to attend college with the goal of earning a degree,” the university said in a statement. “We saw an opportunity to remove another barrier.” Langston takes its name from John Mercer Langston, a civil rights pioneer, the first African American member of Congress from Virginia and founder of the Law School at historically Black Howard University. Historically Black colleges and universities have played an important role developing leaders in a wide range of career fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one historically Black university and some of the leaders it has produced. Use what you read to create a PowerPoint presentation showcasing the history of the Black university, the leaders it has produced and its contributions to American society as a whole.

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.