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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 12, 2022

1. Enormous Changes

The United States has no closer ally in the world than the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the continent of Europe. So when there is a change in leadership in the U.K. (commonly known as Britain), it has great impact on America’s interests. This week the U.S. is adjusting to two enormous changes in leadership for Britain: the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the selection of former Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as prime minister. Queen Elizabeth II was monarch of the European nation and its Commonwealth for longer than any British monarch in history. She ascended to the throne at just age 25 after the death of her father in 1952, and served more than 70 years until age 96. Just days before her death she took part in a traditional ceremony for a new prime minister, asking Truss to form a new government. Truss is just the third woman to be prime minister, and she is putting together a leadership team unlike any Britain has ever seen. For the first time ever, there will be no White men among the top leaders of her cabinet. That is a significant departure from precedent in a nation where White men have dominated non-royal government for hundreds of years. (In Britain, the government and the monarchy operate separately from each other.) Prior to Truss, Britain has had two female prime ministers: Margaret Thatcher (1979–1990) and Theresa May (2016–2019). Like Truss, both were members of Britain’s Conservative Party. The changes in Britain are getting close attention from leaders all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the top concerns of leaders in the United States and other nations. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining issues most important to the U.S.

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.

2. Major Regrets

When people regret having bought something, it’s often said they have “buyer’s remorse.” This usually refers to products and services, but on college campuses across America students are experiencing it in a different way. They are regretting the majors they chose to study — and pay for — and how those majors prepared them for life after college. Not surprisingly in an increasingly specialized job market, humanities and arts majors have the most buyer’s remorse over their majors — nearly 50 percent of graduates according to a survey by the U.S. Federal Reserve banking agency. Engineering majors, by contrast, voiced the least remorse in the Fed survey — just 24 percent according to the Washington Post newspaper. Engineering, of course, is one of the key subjects in STEM education — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — and engineering fields top the list of top-paying jobs each year for recent college graduates. As a result, fewer and fewer college students are choosing humanities majors in fields such as history, art, philosophy, English and foreign languages. Majoring in humanities may not offer the immediate benefits of engineering or other STEM fields — but it could help people who want to change careers later because it provides a broader background than STEM studies, supporters of the humanities say. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the most popular college majors and the jobs they lead to. Use what you read to write a consumer column analyzing what might be lost in creative fields such as movies, television, music, plays and books if more and more students major in studies outside the humanities. Discuss whether there could be a way to combine STEM and humanities studies.

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.

3. Swift Response

Women’s college basketball coach Dawn Staley has won wide respect for leading the University of South Carolina to the national NCAA women’s championship this year and in 2017. She also has won wide respect for speaking out and standing up to issues of racism, discrimination and social justice. So when Staley heard that a fan from Brigham Young University had repeatedly harassed a Black player from Duke University with racial slurs at a volleyball match, she knew she had to do something. In response to the incident, Staley canceled South Carolina’s home-and-home basketball series with Brigham Young that was scheduled to start in November. “As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina. “The incident at BYU has led me to re-evaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.” As a Black athlete and coach, Dawn Staley has spoken out about a wide range of social justice issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another prominent person speaking out about social justice issues. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor outlining the importance of having prominent people speak out about issues.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. ‘An Incredible Find’

People who love the seashore say you never know what you’ll find washed up by the latest tides and waves. You also never know when you’ll find something that’s been there a little bit longer. In the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island, a high school teacher did just that — and her find may be 300-million years old! Lisa St. Coeur Cormier was walking her dog on a rocky beach near her home when she noticed something odd peeking out of the sand between the rocks. When she looked closer, she realized it had a rib cage, a spine and a skull — all encased in rock. Having taught middle school science, she knew right away it was a fossil, the Washington Post newspaper reported. But she had no idea how rare and old it was, or the excitement her discovery would cause. Fossil experts estimate it comes from a time 100-million years before dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and is likely a reptile or a close relative. “But it could also be unknown,” one expert said. After Cormier’s discovery, fossil crews worked quickly to remove the fossil and the bedrock in which it was embedded — they didn’t want incoming tides to damage or bury it. It was later moved to a paleontology lab where it will be scanned to get a better idea what is inside the rock. Regardless of what the scan reveals, it is “an incredible find,” the expert said. “There aren’t very many specimens from this period.” Fossil finds shed new light on dinosaurs and other creatures that lived in ancient times. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a fossil discovery. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend detailing what new information the find provides about the species and the place the fossil was found.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Targeting the Monkees

In the history of rock and roll, the Monkees were a feel-good band created to be the centerpiece of a fun-loving TV show. “Hey, hey we're the Monkees,” they sang in the show’s theme song. “People say we monkey around. / But we're too busy singing, / To put anybody down.” The show was popular from 1966 to 1968 and led to a series of hit songs with upbeat titles like “I’m a Believer,” “Daydream Believer” and “I’ll Be True to You.” Most people saw the band as a group of fun-loving kids — but not the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI kept a file on the Monkees based on the band’s youth-culture appeal and “subliminal” protest imagery shown at concerts. Now the last surviving member of the band — drummer Micky Dolenz — is suing the FBI seeking release of the bureau’s Monkees file. In the 1960s the FBI and its director, J. Edgar Hoover, targeted, harassed and kept tabs on many bands and entertainers. Dolenz, who is now 77, wants to know why the Monkees were one of them. People often file lawsuits to force businesses or government agencies to release information that is important or of interest to the public. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one such suit. Pretend you a judge hearing the case. Based on what you read, how would you rule? Write an opinion piece summarizing how you would rule on the case — and why.

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.

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