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Grades 1-4
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for Grades 9-12

Dec. 02, 2019
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For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 08, 2018

1. Election 2018

This year is an election year, and in one month voters will choose leaders for national, state and local offices. Top races to be decided on November 6 are all the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, one-third of the U.S. Senate, state governor’s offices and local positions like mayor or city council. Much attention is being paid to races for the U.S. House and Senate, which together make up the U.S. Congress. The Republican Party has a majority in both houses of Congress, but Democrats are working to change that. How people vote in this year’s congressional races will likely show how they feel about the performance of President Trump, according to political experts. If they vote Republican in congressional races, it will be seen as a showing of support for the President. If they vote Democratic, it will be seen as a showing of disapproval. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the impact President Trump is having on congressional races. Use what you read to write a political analysis of how the popularity of the President could affect the outcome of congressional races in your state or the nation.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.

2. Big Time Jeopardy

As host of the “Jeopardy” game show, Alex Trebek is one of the most popular personalities on television. But when he was chosen to host a debate in Pennsylvania’s race for governor, he put himself in jeopardy in the old-fashioned way. Trebek had never moderated a political debate, and it showed. He took time away from Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and Republican challenger Scott Wagner by asking long, wordy questions and interjecting his own opinions about state and national issues. He drew boos when he offered his views about the abuse of children by priests in the Catholic Church, and even his attempts at humor fell flat. When he joked that he must have been drunk when he accepted the invitation to moderate the debate, few in the audience laughed. “What on Earth was I thinking?” he asked, a view shared by viewers frustrated that they did not hear enough from the candidates. As one viewer wrote to a local TV station, “Alex, shut up.” Political debates give voters a chance to compare candidates side by side in real time. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a political debate that has recently been held. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining the five most important things voters learned by seeing the candidates side by side. Watch for additional debates in your community or state and repeat the exercise.

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.

3. Pay Raises

Amazon is one of the most successful companies in the world, with a value that totals more than $1-trillion. The Internet sales giant has been criticized, however, for not sharing the wealth with its workers, many of whom are paid minimum wage. Now Amazon has taken a big step to remedy the situation. Over the next month, Amazon will increase the minimum wage it pays workers to at least $15 per hour. That would be more than double the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The pay raise will take effect November 1 and affect 250,000 Amazon employees and 100,000 employees hired to work during the winter holiday season. It will benefit both full-time and part-time workers. Amazon is the nation’s second-largest private employer behind Walmart, which pays a minimum wage of $11 per hour. Workers often seek raises to keep up with their expenses and the “cost of living.” Businesses often resist giving raises by saying they can’t afford them. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about workers seeking raises and a company resisting. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing the reasons the workers want the raise. Write a second paragraph summarizing the reasons the company is resisting the raises.

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

4. Science Spotlight

High school science projects often get a lot of attention at science fairs and competitions. But few get the kind of attention a project got this fall in the state of Missouri. When it was left outside a restaurant in Platte City, it drew the scrutiny of the local police. The project was designed to demonstrate how the element hydrogen can be used as power and featured a plastic container filled with blue liquid, plus outside attachments. It had been taken by its creator to a local sandwich shop to show to friends. The student then left it behind the shop so other students could see it but a worker at a nearby business grew suspicious and called 911. Police investigated the device for two hours before determining it was not dangerous. Science projects seek to demonstrate concepts or principles of science. Research scientists test concepts or principles in their experiments. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about researchers testing science principles in some way. Create a multi-media presentation for the class to explain one experiment, what principles it is testing and what researchers have learned.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. High Hopes

It’s a tall order to write scripts for television shows, but the new “Veronica Mars” series has found the perfect writer for the task. Seven-foot, two-inch NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has joined the writing staff for the show being developed by the Hulu entertainment company. Abdul-Jabbar has appeared in movies like “Airplane!” and TV shows like “Full House” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” He has never written for TV, but is the author of a comic book series about a fictional character named Mycroft Holmes. He also has written best-selling books like his autobiography “Giant Steps” and “On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance.” The new “Veronica Mars” is a remake of a teen-detective show that was popular from 2004 to 2007 and later inspired a movie. Writing scripts for TV shows is a creative challenge. With a partner or alone, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories about a show you like. Brainstorm an idea for a new episode. Write an outline for your episode. Then write the opening scene, in the style of a screenplay.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; identifying multiple language conventions and using them.