For Grades 9-12 , week of Feb. 20, 2023

1. Deadly Earthquake

Earthquakes are among the deadliest natural events in the world. They are caused by underground shifts in chunks of the Earth’s outer crust, which send damaging vibrations to the surface. These vibrations can crumble homes, roads and office buildings and cause great damage. This month a huge earthquake in the Middle East nations of Turkey and Syria has done just that. The quake, which measured 7.9 on the scale that grades earthquakes, killed more than 41,000 people and left whole communities in ruin, CNBC News reported. More than 26-million people have been left homeless in near freezing temperatures in the two countries. “We are facing one of the greatest natural disasters not only in our country but also in the history of humanity,” the president of Turkey said in a televised speech. The international United Nations organization has suspended rescue efforts and is now concentrating on providing food, clothing and shelter for survivors. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about relief efforts by the United Nations, individual countries and private citizens and organizations to aid the survivors of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining the most urgent needs and ways the United States, U.S. organizations and individuals could supply help. In what ways could students or schools support relief efforts?

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. Presidents Day

On Monday this week, the nation celebrated Presidents Day to honor the memory and achievements of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other presidents. Presidents Day is celebrated in February because both Washington and Lincoln were born during the month — Washington on February 22 and Lincoln on February 12. To mark the holiday, use the newspaper to find out what President Biden did yesterday. It shouldn’t be hard to find out — when a U.S. president does just about anything, it makes news. Write a paragraph in your own words that describes how the president made news yesterday. Be sure to stick to the facts — no opinions. For added fun, click here to see what the president is scheduled to do today. Write a sentence describing what you think will be the most important or interesting activity.

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

3. A Very New Season

With the Super Bowl on February 12, the National Football League ended its 2022-23 season. Three days later, Major League Baseball STARTED its 2023 season when pitchers and catchers began reporting to spring training. Spring training is a six-week period in which teams get ready for the start of the regular season on March 30. And there will be some big changes this year once the regular season begins. The biggest involves a new schedule in which every team in the American and National Leagues will play every other team in the two leagues in the course of the regular season. In the past, teams played most of their games against rivals in their own league with only a limited number of “inter-league” games. Inter-league play will now be expanded to make sure every team gets a chance to play against all other teams in both leagues. The goal is to make sure every team’s fans will have a chance to see superstars like Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout or Aaron Judge play against their favorite team each year, the New York Times reported. “We have great players, and we have players who are making national storylines,” a Major League spokesman said. “To get them in front of as many fans as possible only helps players tell their story.” The start of spring training is an exciting time for baseball fans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the biggest challenges facing different teams. Use what you read to write a sports column discussing several of these challenges and how you think they will be addressed.

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. Vermeer the Superstar

One of the hottest tickets in the world right now isn’t for a concert or a sporting event. It’s for an art show featuring an artist who has been dead for nearly 350 years. That artist is Johannes (Jan) Vermeer, who lived and worked in the European nation of the Netherlands in the 1600s. Vermeer is known and loved for creating intimate portrayals of everyday life — women reading or writing letters, a housemaid pouring milk, a woman playing a lute and most famously a young girl wearing a pearl earring. He only created a small number of paintings — experts debate whether it was 34 or 37 — but 28 of them will be on display at a new exhibit at the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands from now through June 4, CNN News reports. That has generated huge excitement for an artist the museum calls “the most mysterious and beloved … of all time.” That may be debatable with other artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci out there, but the collection of works is such a rare occasion that the show has already sold out for its entire run. (To view images click here.) Any tickets now will be available only through resale. The artist Vermeer painted scenes that offered snapshots of everyday life. In the newspaper or online, find a photo of an everyday scene experienced by families, students or others. Use your art skills to create a portrait of this scene in your own style. Write a paragraph explaining why you chose the scene to draw or paint. For added fun, paint a portrait of an everyday scene featuring your home or family. Share portraits as a class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Giving a Hand

The process known as “3D printing” got its start (and name) from the use of inkjet printers to make three-dimensional items layer by layer. It is widely used in medicine and technology fields, and now it has been used to give a high school student in the state of Tennessee a new hand. And the hand was created by his teenage classmates! Sergio Peralta was born with a right hand that didn’t fully develop. He had tiny fingers at the end of his arm, but they weren’t enough to provide full functioning, so he did most things left-handed. When the 15-year-old moved to Henderson High School for this school year, his engineering teacher noticed and enlisted three of his classmates to find a solution. They researched designs for replacement “prosthetic” hands and bought 3D printing equipment to see if they could make one for their new classmate. After weeks of trial and error, they created a model Sergio could try out. When he slipped it on, he was ecstatic, the Washington Post reported. For the first time he was able to catch a ball, and now he says he wants to learn to write with his right hand as well. Sergio and his classmates also want to study engineering and 3D printing in college now as well. “It’s been cool to see [the hand] being kind of a part of who he is now,” their teacher said. “I want to teach them that products don’t have to be about making money. They can be about making someone else have a more fruitful life.” 3D printing is being used in more and more ways to create products or help people perform tasks. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one new use. Use what you read to write a consumer column detailing how 3D printing was used, who it benefited and why that is an advance. Share with the class.

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.