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For Grades 5-8 , week of Aug. 14, 2023

1. PROTECTED LANDS

The United States has a new national monument. Located in the area surrounding the Grand Canyon, the new monument encompasses 1,562 square miles of cultural and religious sites important to Indigenous tribes who count the area among their ancestral lands. It’s called Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni, which comes from the Havasupai phrase for “where tribes roam” and the Hopi phrase for “our footprints.” The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks called the area home to critical natural and cultural resources. The new designation protects the land from uranium mining, which could damage the Colorado River’s watershed. Read more about the new national monument and the area’s significance to Indigenous tribes in your newspaper or online. Then, write a short article detailing how the importance of the area to tribes and how this new designation will impact them.

2. HIP HOP HISTORY

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the hip hop music genre, which started in 1973 when 18-year-old DJ Kool Herc created a new mix of existing records and new beats for a back-to-school party in the Bronx borough of New York City. At first, it was considered a short fad that would only be popular among Black and Brown communities, but it’s since flourished and influenced many other genres of music from country to K-pop. Read more about the advent of hip hop (check out NPR’s story on the party that started it all at .npr.org/2023/07/11/1186407223) and write a short article that summarizes how the genre started and how it’s influenced the music we listen to today.

3. INVESTMENT ADJUSTMENT

President Biden recently signed an executive order that will limit the US’ investments in China for things like microchips, artificial intelligence, and other high-tech innovations. The aim of the order is to keep American investments in Chinese tech companies from being used toward China’s military, like the development of weapons. Under the new rule, investors would have to notify the US government about certain investments with China and some would be prohibited. Write a paragraph explaining why the government might want to influence whether US investors give money to another country and why some people might be against the new policy.

4. DATA DUMP

X, the company previously known as Twitter, made headlines recently in association with former President Trump’s legal battles. The company has been fined $350,000 for not complying with a January search warrant that required all of the data and records from Trump’s Twitter account and a condition that the former president not be made aware of the warrant. This was related to the investigation surrounding the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol; Trump was indicted on charges related to that investigation and pleaded guilty last week. The former president was active on Twitter in the lead up to the events of January 6, including promoting false claims of election fraud, and further data from Twitter could have shown if any others had access to his account, among other information. Read more about this development in your newspaper or online. Then, write an article summarizing what the warrant was requesting and how that could affect the investigation into Donald Trump.

5. STUDENT-GPT

College professors and administrators are struggling to keep up with the implications of advances in artificial intelligence technology in the classroom. Some are rewriting curriculums to embrace AI and use it in new ways, while others are working to “ChatGPT-proof” their assignments and exams through methods like returning to paper tests and requiring students to show drafts or editing history to prove their work is original. If you were a professor, how would you approach the use of AI in your classroom? How would you adjust your policies or assignments to either include using AI as a tool or keep students from using it to cheat? Write down your thoughts and discuss with your classmates.

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