For Grades 9-12 THE WEEK OF Nov. 30, 2020

1. Transition

More than three weeks after Joe Biden was declared winner of the presidential race, after a blizzard of protests, complaints, court cases and recounts, President Trump has agreed to let the transition formally begin to a Biden presidency. The President still maintains there was voter fraud and he won the election, but he finally agreed to give the Biden team access to officials in his administration so that they can make plans for taking office. Trump had been pressured by fellow Republicans to acknowledge he lost the election and move on for the good of the country. Approval of the transition gives the Biden team access to information, office space and funds with which to work. The president-elect has already announced whom he will nominate for key positions in his staff and for cabinet advisors. President-Elect Biden is taking a methodical approach to forming his new government. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people he would nominate to key positions and actions he wants to take early in his presidency. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing the steps Biden is taking and how his approach is different from that of President Trump.

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.

2. ‘Super-Superspreader’?

Despite warnings from health officials, millions of Americans traveled by plane, train, bus and automobile to be with loved ones for Thanksgiving. Now disease experts are worrying that all those trips and gatherings will turn Thanksgiving into a “super-superspreader” event for the coronavirus. More than three million people passed through security gates at airports the weekend before Thanksgiving, and even more were expected last weekend and early this week. An estimated 6,972 flights were in the air the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week — a number down from last year but greater than 2018. Now, with people returning to their communities after being exposed to hundreds of strangers and loved ones, health experts fear a surge in the virus as the nation heads into the December holidays. “We have to remember that the virus does not care that it is the holidays, that you are family, and that you have already gone a long time without seeing one another,” noted Christopher Worsham, a critical care physician affiliated with Harvard Medical School. “If given opportunities to spread, the virus will spread.” The spread of the coronavirus remains a top concern for health officials as the nation heads into the winter holiday season. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the spread of the virus, the number of cases and the increase in deaths. Use what you read to create graphs or charts to illustrate the spread and impact of the virus. Write a paragraph for each chart, explaining what it shows and why that is important.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs; writing informative/explanatory texts.

3. Beyoncé Again!

Every year the Grammy Awards honor top performances in the music world. And this year the artist with the most nominations made history in the process. Leading the way for nominations is Beyoncé, with nine. That gives her 79 nominations for her career, the most ever for any female artist. Following the singer/actress in nominations for 2021 are multi-nominee Taylor Swift, 25-year-old British singer Dua Lipa and 22-year-old California singer/rapper Roddy Ricch, with six each. This year’s nominees are competing in 83 categories, ranging from country to classical to gospel to spoken word. The 63rd Grammy Awards show will be hosted by comedian and “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah January 31 on CBS-TV. If you were giving out Grammy Awards, which music artists or songs would you honor? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about this year’s Grammys and the nominations for awards. Then think like a music critic and write a column for the newspaper listing artists you would honor and why. Share and discuss choices with friends or classmates.

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.‘Unprecedented’ Words

With the coronavirus, Black Lives Matter, wildfires and hurricanes, the year 2020 has been stressful and challenging for Americans and people around the world. And that presented a problem for the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Every year the dictionary picks a “word of the year” that reflects a challenge or trend that dominated the news. This year, with so much going on, the OED couldn’t decide on just one word. So it has released a list of “Words of an Unprecedented Year.” The word “unprecedented” itself was used so much it could have been a “word of the year,” but it only scratches the surface of this year’s trends and events. Not surprisingly, coronavirus terms like “Covid-19,” “lockdown,” “social distancing,” “superspreader,” “flatten the curve,” “remote learning” and “essential workers” dominate the list. “Black Lives Matter” is also included, along with “social justice” and “cancel culture.” Political terms like “mail-in,” “conspiracy theory” and “Q-Anon” also make the list. Language is a living, growing thing. It changes with the times, picking up new words that go into wide use from trends or events. In the newspaper or online, search for words that are getting a lot of use that were not used in the past. Pick five and write how they came to be widely used. Then write whether you think these words will become permanent additions to our language, or diminish in use over time.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Movie Dream Job

If you like holiday movies, a website that specializes in consumer reviews has just the job for you. has announced it will pay someone $2,500 to watch 25 holiday movies in 25 days and write what they think of them for other movie lovers. The person who gets the job will be able to choose from the likes of “Home Alone,” “The Santa Clause,” “Elf,” “Christmas with the Kranks” or movies of their own choosing. To be eligible, applicants have to be older than 18, have a streaming device and be able to fill out a short survey after every film, CNN News reports. Applications are being taken until December 4 at the website. The holiday movie assignment would be a dream job for people who love movies. What would be a dream job that you would like to have? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a dream job you would like. Use what you read to write a cover letter applying for this job, telling why you would want it and why you would be good at it. Make sure your letter is in the form of a business letter.

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.