For Grades 9-12 , week of Aug. 15, 2022

1. Record Climate Bill

All over the world, nations have been struggling for years to find ways to slow down climate change and global warming. International agreements have set goals for reducing greenhouse gases that warm the atmosphere, and individual countries have passed measures to encourage the development of clean energy sources like solar and wind power that don’t warm the Earth. This month, the United States took its most ambitious step ever to address climate change, when the U.S. Congress passed legislation that would provide $370-billion for climate and clean energy programs and cut greenhouse gas emissions about 40 percent by the end of the decade. The legislation also would cut prescription drug costs and force corporations to pay more taxes. President Biden is scheduled to sign the legislation into law this week. To achieve its climate goals, the new law would offer tax incentives to get consumers to buy electric vehicles, provide rebates for buying energy efficient appliances and encourage utility companies to invest in wind or solar power, among other things. Not surprisingly, Democrats hailed the measure as “the greatest pro-climate legislation that has ever been passed by Congress,” in the words of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Republicans universally opposed the bill as too costly and “government overreach.” The climate legislation passed by Congress would do many things to address global warming. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these approaches. Use what you read to write an editorial focusing one or two items that you think are the most important long-term.

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. Copyright

Copyright laws protect the rights of inventors, authors, artists, designers, filmmakers, playwrights and other creators of original works or products. The nation’s founders felt these protections for “useful arts” were so important they included them in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution that set up the government. This summer copyright issues have put a spotlight on a church in the state of Texas that staged a version of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” in the city of McAllen 10 miles from the Mexican border. The Door McAllen Church did not have copyright permission to stage the show about Alexander Hamilton and other Founding Fathers, but that was not the biggest problem. The church and its production team changed the lyrics of the prize-winning musical to give it a religious spin, the Washington Post newspaper reports. In one scene, the character of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton notes that “Jesus gives me the strength to pull through,” even though it is not in the original production. At one point, the character of Alexander Hamilton is asked to pray and “receive Jesus Christ in your heart right now,” according to a video posted to social media. “Do you not only confess but repent of all of your sin?” Hamilton is asked. “Do you accept him as your Lord and savior?” In a statement to the Dallas Morning News newspaper, the pastor of the church said it had legal permission to stage the show. Yet the “Hamilton” team in New York City said it did not grant a license to the church and “issued a cease-and-desist letter for the unauthorized use of ‘Hamilton’s’ intellectual property.” The rights of artists who create works of art are protected by copyright laws. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a case involving an artist. Use what you read to write an arts or business column examining why copyright laws are needed, and what penalties would help protect copyrights.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic,

3. Facebook Founder’s Card

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of the world’s richest people, with a net worth of more than $64-billion, according to Forbes magazine. But how much is he worth on a baseball card he had printed up for himself when he was 8 years old? The world is about to find out after a camp counselor who knew Zuckerberg as a child announced he has a signed copy of the card — and is going to put it up for auction. Counselor Allie Tarantino acquired the card when Zuckerberg gave them out as a parting gift when he was a camper at Elmwood Day Camp in Westchester, New York 30 years ago. The card shows Zuckerberg grinning in a red jersey and gripping a baseball bat, the Associated Press news service reported. “As somebody who collects things,” Tarantino never threw it out and tucked it away with other keepsakes in his basement. Now that Zuckerberg has become one of the world’s most famous people, Tarantino is offering the card for sale. Actually, two versions will be auctioned off by the ComicConnect company next month — the actual paper card and an NFT digital image. No one knows what people will be willing to pay for either, but collectors have paid millions for sports and celebrity items. The Zuckerberg card is a little of both. People often pay great sums of money for items connected to famous people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people who have done this. Use what you read to write a humorous poem about one person’s purchase and whether you think it was worth the money. Read poems aloud with friends — with humor and expression!

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

4. War Travel

The war in Ukraine grinds on, with Russian forces battering towns in the eastern part of the European nation and Ukraine forces counter-attacking in Crimea and other regions. But to a travel company called VisitUkraine.Today, it’s a perfect time to plan a trip to see Ukraine first-hand. On day trips to so-called “Brave Cities,” the company will take visitors to see bombed out buildings, tour landmarks like cathedrals and stadiums and meet Ukraine residents and freedom fighters, CNN News reports. The U.S. Department of State currently lists Ukraine as a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” country and Ukraine itself discourages foreigners from visiting at this time. Yet tour organizer Anton Taranenko of VisitUkraine is urging people to visit. “If you want to see our destroyed cities and brave people fighting, please come now,” he says. The VisitUkraine tour company is calling new attention to the country’s war with Russia. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the war and what is happening in Ukraine. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper offering an update on the latest events and detailing gains and losses by both sides. Conclude your paper by making a prediction on what the situation will be at the end of this year. Share with classmates and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

5. ‘Lighthouses’

When communities are hit by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or other severe weather, one of the biggest problems is the loss of electricity. A lack of power can shut down refrigerators, air conditioning and life-saving medical equipment and even make charging cell phones a headache. In the state of Louisiana, a new program seeks to remedy that by creating solar-powered “lighthouses” that can provide power to neighborhoods until the electricity comes back on. The lighthouses are designed to generate and store power so that residents can charge phones, recharge batteries or even refrigerate medicines that need to be kept cool, the Associated Press reports. Each lighthouse team also will research its neighborhood to determine which residents have special needs like electric wheelchairs, oxygen generators or medicines that need to be kept cool. Organizations and communities often use new technologies and inventions to help people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one new invention being used this way. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling how this invention works and why it is an improvement over the way things were done in the past.

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