, week of
Feb. 25, 2019
1. Emergency Challenged
When the U.S. Congress refused to give President Trump the $5.7-billion he wanted to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, he declared a national emergency designed to let him shift money from other programs for the project. His signature on the emergency order will not start the project soon, however. Sixteen states immediately joined together to file a lawsuit that contends the president does not have the authority to shift funds for the wall — and violated the U.S. Constitution by trying to do so. The Constitution gives Congress, not the President, the authority to decide how federal money is spent. The President argues that the National Emergencies Act passed by Congress in 1976 gives him the authority to bypass Congress to deal with an emergency. President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to get funds for a border wall continues to spark lawsuits and controversy. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the latest developments. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing what has happened to date, and what you think will happen next.
Common Core State Standards: 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.
2. Free Medical Tuition
Going to medical school gives students opportunities to help people as doctors for a lifetime. It also can leave students with financial obligations that can last a lifetime. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the median debt for med school graduates is now $192,000, and many owe even more. A new medical school in California is taking steps to lower student debt with an innovative program for students who enroll. The Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine has announced it will charge no tuition for students who enroll in its first five graduating classes. That is a substantial saving for students, since tuition will be about $55,000 a year. Kaiser Permanente, which runs hospitals, clinics and an insurance plan, will pay for the tuition of new students from its “community benefits” fund. The new med school will start accepting applications in June and open in the city of Pasadena in the summer of 2020. Many colleges and universities are now taking steps to reduce student debt or provide more financial support. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about such efforts. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper detailing approaches you think will be the most effective.
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.
3. Daytona 500
The Daytona 500 is one of the most famous auto races in the world, and this year’s version was one for the record books. Driver Denny Hamlin won the 500-mile contest, but it was way more difficult than usual. A 22-car pileup knocked out half the cars in the race at Daytona International Speedway and several other crashes made it difficult and dangerous for drivers. No one was injured, but only four cars finished the race unaffected by the crack-ups. Hamlin’s victory was his second in the last four years at the world-famous NASCAR event, where cars can hit speeds of 200 miles per hour or more. Denny Hamlin needed skill, courage and perseverance to win the Daytona 500. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another athlete who needed those qualities — or others — to achieve success. Write a letter to a friend outlining the qualities the athlete needed to succeed, and how they could help others succeed in other fields.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
4. All That Screen Time
With television, the Internet and electronic games, children spend more and more time in front of screens in their lives. And not just older children. A study published this month reports that screen time has more than doubled for children under 2 years old in the last 20 years. That concerns children’s doctors, who worry that too much screen time could have a negative effect on natural development and learning. In the study just released in the medical journal called JAMA Pediatrics, researchers report that screen time for children under 2 jumped from 1.32 hours per day in 1997 to 3.05 hours daily in 2014, the year for which the most recent statistics were available. Television was the most frequently used screen, researchers said, because parents often use TV to “babysit” and entertain young children. With the growing popularity of video games, cell phones, tablets, electronic readers, learning devices and social media, the screen time of children has likely increased, researchers conceded. Children’s experts say limiting screen time for young children can help them develop their imaginations and learning skills. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other things that can help young children develop, learn and stay healthy. Use what you read to brainstorm a public service TV ad highlighting one or more things parents should know about early childhood development.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
In the state of California, Yosemite National Park offers many amazing natural attractions. One of the most popular occurs only this time of year — and only for a few days. It’s called “Firefall,” and it occurs only when the setting sun hits the water at Horsetail Fall at just the right angle. When it does, it turns the water a bright orange color that looks like volcano lava flowing down the side of the El Capitan rock formation. Horsetail Fall is a seasonal waterfall that only flows in winter and early spring. Natural attractions like “Firefall” attract tourists all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a popular natural attraction. Use what you read to write and create a travel brochure to encourage people to visit this natural attraction. Decide what features to highlight about the attraction and write eye-catching headlines to call attention to them. Write a sentence or two for each headline telling how the feature will make visitors feel. Choose images from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your brochure. Share with the class.
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; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.