For Grades 9-12 , week of May 22, 2023

1. Runoff in Turkey

The nation of Turkey sits on the border between the continents of Europe and Asia, and has long played an important role in the politics of the world. Now the world is closely watching the politics of Turkey. Turkey’s longtime president has been forced into a runoff election May 28 after failing to win a majority of the vote in this month’s presidential election. The results of the runoff between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu will not only determine the future of democracy in Turkey but could also have impact on U.S. alliances in the Middle East, Russia’s war in Ukraine and the future of the peace-keeping North American Treaty Organization (NATO). In voting that took place May 14, Erdogan fell just short of the 50 percent needed for election under Turkish law. Erdogan received 49.5 percent of the vote to Kilicdaroglu’s 44.9 percent, the Washington Post newspaper reported. The election had been expected to present the strongest challenge to Erdogan’s leadership in his more than 20 years in public life. As the incumbent president, he is expected to prevail in the runoff, because his office controls state institutions and much of Turkey’s news media. Under Erdogan, Turkey, has balanced relations between the West and Russia, sometimes acting as diplomatic intermediary. The United States and other nations are closely watching Turkey’s runoff election, because Turkey plays an important role in world politics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read commentaries about the importance of the Turkish runoff. Use what you read and other research to write a commentary of your own detailing why the outcome of the election is important to the United States.

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. A Philadelphia First

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a city rich in American history. The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were written and signed there, the Liberty Bell is located there and for a time Philadelphia served as the capital of the United States. This month, the city took a giant step toward making history in a modern way, when former City Councilor Cherelle Parker won the Democratic primary in the race to become the city’s 100th mayor. Because Democrats outnumber Republicans 7 to 1 in Philadelphia, she is on track to become the first woman — and the first Black woman — to lead Pennsylvania’s biggest city. Parker, who is 50 and a single mom, came out on top in a crowded field of nine Democrats seeking the party’s nomination. Women took all three of the top spots in the voting, another first for a city founded 340 years ago in 1682. Women are playing an increasingly important role in politics and government. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about new women candidates achieving success in politics or government. Use what you read to write an editorial examining the impact of more women entering politics, how they are achieving success and why voters are responding to the perspectives that female candidates bring to policymaking.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

3. ‘Environmental DNA’

DNA is a protein found in the cells of all living things, and determines everything from height and muscle structure to the color of hair and eyes. For that reason it is often referred to as “the building block of life” for humans and other species. When scientists first started studying DNA, they worked from cell specimens collected from individual species. But in a breakthrough in DNA research, scientists at the University of Florida have discovered that high quality DNA can be collected from the environment and be used to analyze the genetic makeup of humans and other species. Such “environmental DNA” can be obtained from air, soil, sediment, water, sand, snow and ice, researchers report in a new study. The DNA from humans and other species has entered the environment through spit, skin, sweat and blood released by people going about their daily lives. It was of such high quality that researchers could match genetic information to individuals, CNN News reported. DNA from the environment could be used to help people find missing persons, aid in investigations to solve crimes, locate sites of archaeological importance, and monitor health during events such as the coronavirus epidemic. It also raises ethical concerns about violations of privacy for individuals who did not consent to have their DNA collected. DNA technology is being used in more and more fields to help researchers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one example. Use what you read to prepare an oral report on this use of DNA technology, how it helps researchers and why that is better than techniques used previously.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Dynamic Duo

Daughters and moms often like to do things together, but a duo in the state of Texas have really outdone themselves. Elizabeth Meyer, 25, and her mom Alissa Meyer, 50 have just earned a college degree together — for the fifth time. The Meyer women earned a master’s degree in social work from Our Lady of the Lake University in the city of San Antonio, UPI News reported — and each graduated with straight A’s! Previously, the dynamic duo earned three associate's degrees from Central Texas College and a bachelor's degree from Mary Hardin-Baylor, a private Christian university in central Texas. Going to school together has made the two women closer. “She's my best friend,” Elizabeth Meyer said. “All our classmates call her ‘mom.’” Despite all their academic honors, the Meyer woman aren’t done with schooling just yet. After a “gap year,” they plan to return to Our Lady of the Lake to enter a Ph.D. program for doctorate degrees. Mothers and daughters can often be great partners in both personal and professional ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a mother and daughter teaming up to achieve success. Use what you read to write a personal column about the benefits — and challenges — of mothers, daughters or other family members working together. Include benefits and challenges that you might have working with a parent or family member on a project.

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.

5. Cooking, Cooking, Cooking

Many people love to cook, but few love it as much as a 26-year-old woman from the African nation of Nigeria. Hilda Bassey has just cooked for 100 straight hours in an attempt to set a new world record for non-stop cooking, the Associated Press news service reports. Bassey, who is known on social media as Hilda Baci, cooked for more than 4 days straight, taking breaks of just 5 minutes each hour. In her bid for the record, she created more than 55 recipes and over 100 meals designed to showcase the best of Nigerian foods. Her recipes included soups, stews, meats and Jollof rice, a popular West African dish that features tomatoes, onions, spices and meats cooked in a single pot. Her effort appears to have broken the previous record for non-stop cooking — 87 hours and 45 minutes, which was set by a chef from the Asian nation of India in 2019. The Guinness World Records organization has not yet confirmed that Bassey is the new record holder, but her effort drew praise and celebration from Nigerians from all walks of life. Even Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, got involved. ”Hilda’s drive, ambition and resilience have brought great interest and insight into the uniqueness of Nigerian food,” Buhari said. People often make news by challenging themselves to do unusual or interesting things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a person who has done this. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a creative story that would begin right AFTER the person’s unusual achievement. Write an outline for your story detailing how the achievement could change the person’s life for better or worse. Then write the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.