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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 02, 2012

1. The End of a Rule

Sixty years ago Americans were engaged in battle with North Korea, a communist country in Asia that attacked neighboring South Korea, a democracy. In the past decade, tensions between North Korea and other countries have been high as the country’s leader, Kim Jong Il pursued the development of nuclear warheads. Kim died last month at age 69. According to an Associated Press story, the North Koreans have been grooming Kim’s third son, Kim Jong Un, to take over power. Countries around the world are concerned about the stability of the North Korean government and what the death of Kim will mean for the North Korean quest for nuclear missiles. South Korea put its military on high alert after Kim Jong Il died, according to the story. Find a newspaper story about North Korea. Or find one online. As a class, discuss what the change in power could mean for stability in the region and the world.

Core/National Standard: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions, building on others’ ideas.

2. Parse This

Learning correct grammar is an important skill, and the newspaper can help you practice. On a sheet of paper, copy out a paragraph from an article that interests you in today's paper — but don't include any punctuation or capitalize any letters. Trade paragraphs with a classmate, and see if you can put the punctuation and capital letters back where they belong.

Core/National Standard: Identifying and using mechanics that enhance and clarify understanding. Examples include using conventional punctuation, capitalization and spelling (as well as approximations of conventional spelling) and restating key ideas in oral messages.

3. Texting Tragedy

Your parents might hound you about talking on your cell phone or texting while you are driving, and a recent incident may prove them right. According to an Associated Press story, a 19-year-old Missouri pickup driver started a chain-reaction accident that killed two and injured 38. Federal investigators said the young man had sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes before the accident. He crashed into the back of a tractor trailer truck and was then rear-ended by a school bus, which in turn was rear-ended by another school bus. The driver and a 15-year-old on one of the buses were killed. Deborah Hersman, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, said afterwards that “No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.” Find a newspaper article about cell phone use and driving. Or find an example online. Write an opinion piece offering your opinion about laws regarding the use of cell phones when driving.

Core/National Standard: Writing arguments to support claims in an analysis of a complex issue.

4. Go Team! Go Grades!

Do college sports affect the grades of students? A recent study done by economists at the University of Oregon showed that the more a school’s football team won, the more the male students’ grade point averages dropped. The drop was equivalent to scoring 27 points lower on the SAT test. According to an Associated Press story, women’s grades held up better than men’s when the football team was doing well. Male students average a 2.94 grade point average at the school, while female students average a 3.12. For every three wins, the males’ grades dropped 8 percent. Find a newspaper story about the effects of sports on colleges — both positive and negative. Or find an example online. Write a paragraph summarizing the article, highlighting its key points. Then write a second paragraph describing the effect sports have at your school. Discuss your findings as a class.

Core/National Standards: Propelling conversations by posing and responding to questions; writing fluently for multiple purposes.

5. A Costly Lesson

An Illinois mom wanted to teach her son about the responsibility of having a bank account. The effort taught a lesson, but not the one that was intended. The account ended up costing the 18-year-old son $229 in bank fees. Daniel Ganziano opened a savings account to deposit money from his job. When the balance fell to $4.85, he ignored it because it was such a small amount. However, he didn’t realize the bank would charge him a $9.95 fee when the balance got that low. When the fee was charged, it overdrew the account, which in turn led to a $28 per day overdraft fee. Find a newspaper story about banks and customer fees. Discuss as a class whether fees are justified or not.

Core/National Standard: Building on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others.