, week of
Mar. 19, 2018
1. Shake-Up in Washington
President Trump made a major change in his leadership team last week, dismissing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replacing him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Tillerson, who previously headed the Exxon oil company, had clashed with the President on issues ranging from negotiations with North Korea to relationships with African nations to Russia's attempts to influence American elections. Pompeo, who has been head of America's foreign intelligence operations, is a former U.S. Congressman who has been a consistent and enthusiastic supporter of the President. The nomination of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State must be confirmed by a vote of the U.S. Senate. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about what senators are saying about the nomination. Then write a political opinion column outlining what you think will be issues Pompeo will be questioned about most during his confirmation hearing.
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.
For 130 years, National Geographic magazine has given readers exotic photos and stories from places all over the world. But when it made plans to examine race and racial attitudes in its April issue, it decided to look at its own history as well. It hired a University of Virginia professor to analyze the photos and stories published through the years - and what they said about the magazine's attitudes. The result was a blunt admission from editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg, who publicly declared: "For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist." Explaining the assessment, she wrote "until the 1970s National Geographic all but ignored people of color who lived in the United States, rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers or domestic workers. Meanwhile, it pictured 'natives' elsewhere as exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, [as] happy hunters, noble savages - every type of cliche." All over the nation, communities and institutions like magazines are re-examining their histories and practices in light of changing attitudes about race, sex, history and diversity. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an institution re-examining its past practices and attitudes. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper summarizing issues being analyzed, steps being taken or proposed, and any additional steps you think would be appropriate.
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. Obamas on Netflix?
What do you do after you have been president of the United States? Former President Barack Obama may be getting into the news and entertainment world. CNN News and the New York Times newspaper report that Obama is in discussions with Netflix for a "production partnership" in which he and his wife Michelle would create programming and also appear on camera. Mr. Obama, according to the reports, would moderate conversations on issues he addressed as President and Mrs. Obama would focus on topics like health, fitness and nutrition, which she promoted as First Lady. They would also support fictional programming on topics important to them. Netflix has about 118 million subscribers around the world. If they partner with Netflix, Barack and Michelle Obama would address issues important to them. If you could have a partnership with Netflix, what issues would you address? In the newspaper or online, closely read stories about issues important to you. Use what you read to write a proposal for a program, or programs, that you would like to create to address one or more issues. Give details outlining how the programs would call attention to the issues. Discuss ideas as a class.
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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.
4. Mystery Solved
One of the weirdest wonders of the ancient world was a Greco-Roman temple in what is now the nation of Turkey. Two thousand years ago, people flocked to the city of Hierapolis to view a mysterious cave called the Plutonium (after Pluto, the Roman God of the underworld). The cave was said to emit a "breath of death" that could cause animals to drop dead at its entrance. Scientists have long wondered about this, but new research may have found the answer. Studies of the site have found a crack in the Earth's surface deep underground that emits carbon dioxide gas so concentrated it can be deadly, according to a report in the journal of Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. Gas analysis found concentrations of carbon dioxide as high as 91% inside the cave - a level that could easily kill animals, birds or other living things, experts said. New techniques in science are being used in many new ways to solve problems, answer questions or explain situations in the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a new technique of science being used to solve a problem or answer questions. Write a paragraph explaining how this new technique is an improvement over past practices, and why that is important.
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.
5. Teen Makes a Difference
It's often said that every person can make a difference, and a 16-year-old in San Diego, California is proving it. Kevin Barber has started a program to help homeless men and women find work - and help his city as well. The Wheels for Change program Barber started pays homeless people from local shelters to pick up trash, bottles and other debris from city streets and parks. Once or twice a week, a van picks up 8 to 10 homeless people from a city shelter and transports them to a place that needs a clean-up. At the end of the day the homeless are returned to the shelter and paid in cash. With a boost from Barber's mother, the program is privately funded, but city officials are considering picking up the cost in the future. "It's a win-win for everybody," said one city councilor. Teens and young adults often find unusual ways to help their communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one person helping in an unusual way. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short documentary film calling attention to this person's efforts. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene, in the style of a movie screenplay.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.