For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 31, 2022

1. One More Week

The midterm elections get their name because they fall in the middle of the four-year term of the President of the United States. President Biden isn’t on the ballot, but this year’s midterms will determine how well the next two years of his presidency go. Voters will decide next week whether Republicans or Democrats control the U.S. House and Senate, and if the Republicans win, it could seriously hamper the Democratic president. With so much on the line, the competition has been fierce — and nasty — especially in races for the U.S. Senate. That’s because the Senate is divided 50-50 between the two parties (with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris breaking any ties). The most closely watched Senate races include those in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a close or important race in your state or the nation. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing the positions and personalities of the leading candidates and which you think would do the best job in the position.

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. Virus Hits Education

Ever since the coronavirus epidemic struck America, the nation’s parents, teachers and school officials have worried how it would affect the learning of students. Now an authoritative national exam has given the first look at the effects of school closings and remote learning. The news is not good, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The assessment — known as the nation’s report card — has found that America’s students experienced significant setbacks in both math and reading during the two years schools struggled to deal with the virus. In the test’s first results since the epidemic began, math scores for eighth graders fell in nearly every state, and fourth graders fared only slightly better, the New York Times newspaper reported. In reading, scores declined in more than half the states, and no state showed significant improvement. The report card test is an independent exam delivered to fourth and eighth graders each year. It is considered more demanding than state and local tests. This year it tested nearly 450,000 fourth and eighth graders in more than 10,000 schools and measured how students progressed on key subjects. But many students and education experts argue that while reading and math scores went down, students learned other skills during the epidemic. They got better using technology, for example, or doing online research or mastering Zoom calls that now are widely used in business. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about technology and life skills that students need. Write a personal column for the newspaper detailing skills you learned during the epidemic that could help you in careers or later life.

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

3. Warriors Are Tops Again

In the National Basketball Association, the Golden State Warriors have won four NBA championships in the last eight years and appeared in the finals of the playoffs six times. Now the Warriors have earned top ranking in another way. In a yearly rating by the Forbes money magazine, the Warriors have been named the most valuable team in professional basketball. The Warriors, who are led by superstar Steph Curry, are valued at $7-billion. The top ranking for the Warriors marks the first time in the history of the Forbes list that the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks have not been rated Number 1 in value, according to the Bleacher Report sports site. The Knicks were second in value in this year’s ranking at $6.1-billion, and the Lakers were third at $5.9-billion. After the Warriors won last season’s championship, their value jumped 25 percent to put them in first place. Across the league, teams were valued at an average of $2.6-billion, and all are valued at more than $1.6-billion, the value of the lowest-ranked New Orleans Pelicans. Sports teams generate a lot of income for their owners, but they also generate jobs and income in their communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the ways sports teams benefit other businesses, workers and neighborhoods in the community. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a video or short film documenting the most important benefits from a team you like or all teams. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Give your film a title and write text for the first scene. For added fun, pick a sports figure to narrate your film and explain your choice.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. Teen Skating Star

An American teenager has made figure-skating history by completing one of the sport’s most difficult moves in competition. Ilia Malinin, who is 17, completed a quadruple axel jump in his first senior Grand Prix competition to win a gold medal at the Skate America event hosted by the Skating Club of Boston in Massachusetts. A quadruple axel requires four-and-a-half revolutions in the air, turning from a forward-facing takeoff to a backward-facing landing, CNN News reported. Even some of the sport’s biggest stars have been unable to land a quadruple axel. By landing the difficult jump, Malinin became the youngest Grand Prix champion in the event’s history. A resident of Fairfax, Virginia, Malinin comes from a family of figure skaters. Both his mother and father were competitors in singles figure skating in the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan before coming to the United States. Teen athletes often make news by performing unusual or unexpected feats. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an athlete who has done this. Pretend you are a sports reporter and use what you read to craft five questions you would ask this teen athlete about the unusual achievement. Explain why you would want answers to these questions.

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.

5.‘Anti-Cheating’ Hats

Instructors for colleges, high schools and younger grades are always looking for ways to make sure cheating doesn’t occur during quizzes and exams. In the Southeast Asian nation of the Philippines, a college professor took an unusual approach — and became an Internet sensation. Before exams, mechanical engineering professor Mary Joy Mandane-Ortiz asked her students at Bicol University College of Engineering to create simple “anti-cheating” hats out of paper. The students went all out to meet the challenge. They made elaborate contraptions out of cardboard, egg boxes and other recycled materials and even deployed hats, helmets and Halloween masks to block their vision of other people’s papers, HDTV news reported. When their professor posted pictures of the students’ creations online, the photos went viral and even prompted other colleges to follow the approach. Best of all, the effort was successful. Professor Mandane-Ortiz reported that her engineers-in-training performed better than in years past when using their contraptions, and some even finished their tests early. When Philippine students were asked to create “anti-cheating” hats, they came up with some unusual inventions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about unusual inventions created by other students or adults. Write a letter to a friend explaining one invention, what it was designed to do and how successful it was. If you like, describe an invention you would like to create and why it is needed.

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