For Grades 9-12 THE WEEK OF Nov. 23, 2020

1. Hate Crimes

Hate crimes are any crimes motivated by prejudice based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or disability. They often are violent, and they are on the rise in the United States. According to a new report from the FBI, hate crimes in the nation rose to their highest level in more than a decade last year and more murders were motivated by hate than ever before. The FBI reported there were 7,314 criminal incidents motivated by prejudice in 2019 — the third straight year the total topped 7,100 incidents and the highest number since 7,783 in 2008, the year Barack Obama was elected as the nation’s first African American president. Blacks are still the No. 1 target of hate crimes, but the overall increase last year was fueled by attacks against Hispanics and Jews, the FBI said. The surge in homicides was attributed in large part to a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas in August 2019, in which a 21-year-old gunman targeted Latinos and killed 23 people at a Walmart. Hate crimes can occur in any community, and require a community-wide effort to control. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about hate crimes that have occurred in different communities, and how those communities responded. Use what you read to write an editorial detailing the danger of hate crimes and what steps a community can take to prevent them from happening.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Trailblazer

Women have long complained that there is a “glass ceiling” in business and other organizations that keeps them from rising to the top in their careers. They do well, but when they get near the top, they hit that ceiling and their advancement stalls. Like other women executives, Kim Ng knew all about the glass ceiling. But this month she broke through it in a spectacular way. Ng (pronounced ANG) was named general manager of the Miami Marlins in Florida, the first woman to hold that position in the history of Major League Baseball. Ng, who is 51, has been preparing for years to run a Major League ball club. She served as assistant director of baseball operations for the Chicago White Sox, assistant general manager for the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers and senior vice president of baseball operations in the central office of Major League Baseball. “When I got into this business, it seemed unlikely a woman would lead a Major League team, but I am dogged in the pursuit of my goals,” Ng said in a prepared statement. “My goal is now to bring championship baseball to Miami.” In sports and other fields, women have long faced obstacles to achieving success and breaking through the “glass ceiling.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about obstacles women face that men often don’t face in their careers. Use what you read to write a business column outlining ways that businesses can eliminate obstacles for women and level the playing field for advancement.

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. Virus Yearbooks

Students have had to make a lot of adjustments during the coronavirus epidemic. But here’s one you might not have thought of: How do you produce a yearbook when classes, sports and activities are canceled or forced to go remote? At a high school in the city of Houston, Texas, yearbook editors have had to deal with challenges ranging from getting class portraits to capturing the spirit of students when everyone is wearing masks. When turnout was low on picture day, the yearbook editors at Klein Cain High School decided to let students take their own portraits, according to a local TV station. With classes being held remotely, they asked students to take pictures of their learning spaces instead of classrooms. With in-school learning limited, they decided to postpone group shots until spring when students (hopefully) will be back in school. One thing wasn’t difficult, however. For the theme of this year's publication, the editors chose “Emerge” to symbolize how students have overcome the challenges of the epidemic. The coronavirus epidemic has forced students to make many changes and adjustments this school year. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the ways students have dealt with these changes. Then work remotely with classmates to discuss ways your school yearbook could address those changes and adjustments. Write a “master plan” or outline for your yearbook, telling how you could tell the story of what school has been like in this year of the coronavirus.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. Operation Santa

For more than 100 years, the U.S. Postal Service has given needy children across the country a way to see their holiday dreams come true. Through its Operation Santa program, the Postal Service has shared children’s letters to Santa with generous volunteers who buy and wrap presents for kids who might not otherwise get them. In the past people who wanted to participate could visit post offices in person, read letters and choose the children they would like to help. This year, due to the coronavirus epidemic, the program is going all-digital. Children’s Santa letters will be uploaded to the Operation Santa website, and starting December 4, postal customers can read them and choose to send gifts with their responses. This year there is greater need, with families struggling due to job losses and business closures. “It seems like a small thing,” a program spokesperson said, “but for anyone who is struggling, it’s a huge deal.” The Operation Santa program is one of many set up to help needy children and families during the holiday season. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another program doing this. Use what you read and the program’s website to create a series of TV ads urging people to support the program. Pick a theme for your ads and images you would use for each ad. Write text conveying the message for each ad. Share with family and friends.

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.

5. ‘Ghost Kitchen’ Dining

Restaurants have taken a huge hit from the coronavirus epidemic. With bans or limits on indoor dining, they have had to rely on takeout service and limited outdoor spaces to survive. Many will not make it, according to restaurant experts, but one of the largest “fast casual” chains is betting it can. Chipotle Mexican Grill has opened its first all-digital “ghost kitchen” restaurant that will offer takeout and nothing else. The restaurant in Highland Falls, New York could be a model for others that will offer kitchens that prepare foods but no dining tables on site. Customers will have to order in advance through the Chipotle website, the Chipotle app or third-party delivery partners. “Ghost kitchen” restaurants are just one way that businesses are making changes in an effort to survive the coronavirus epidemic. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about steps that other businesses are taking. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper, reviewing different approaches, analyzing which have the best chance of success and offering other suggestions.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.