, week of
Sep. 21, 2020
1. Wildfire Politics
Wildfires sweeping the American West have burned more than 5-million acres in California, Oregon and Washington State and left tens of thousands of people homeless. They have also sparked sharp debate in the presidential race, and there couldn’t be bigger differences between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden. On a visit to the fire area, President Trump disputed scientists’ view that global warming has been a cause of the fires and instead blamed them on poor “management” of forest areas. Biden responded by calling Trump a “climate arsonist” for denying the role global warming has had creating parched conditions that make wildfires deadly and fast-moving. The West Coast wildfires continue to burn and continue to fuel debate between presidential candidates Trump and Biden. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about what each is saying. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing the appeal of each candidate’s views and which you think will be more persuasive to voters on Election Day November 3.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
2. The U.N. at 75
The United Nations was founded 75 years ago after World War II in an attempt to prevent future world-wide wars. Its goal was to get nations to work together to prevent regional wars from expanding, to find peaceful solutions to conflicts and to help keep the peace after the fighting stops. In addition to promoting peace, the U.N. seeks to promote human rights, provide humanitarian aid to war-torn or impoverished nations and promote sustainable development. At the time of its founding in October 1945 the international organization had 51 member countries. It now has 193, representing most of the nations on Earth. Those nations form the General Assembly, but the real power lies with the Security Council led by the permanent members the United States, China, Russia, France and Great Britain. The permanent members have veto power to block any action by the U.N. regarding conflicts or other issues. As it turns 75, the United Nations faces huge challenges ranging from the coronavirus epidemic, economic collapse due to the virus and a worldwide refugee crisis. And it faces challenges from nations that would rather “go it alone” than cooperate with other countries. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the challenges facing the United Nations. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining the greatest challenges and how the organization can deal with them.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Ice in Danger
Global warming is having a big effect on environments all over the world. And nowhere is that more apparent than in regions near the Earth’s North and South Poles. In the Arctic region near the North Pole, a huge chunk of ice has broken off from the area’s largest ice shelf in the nation of Greenland. In Antarctica near the South Pole, two glaciers are tearing loose from land features that hold them in place, raising fears they could trigger the breakup of a huge ice shelf in West Antarctica. In both cases, the changes are due to global warming, scientists conclude in new scientific research papers. Researchers say the ice shelfs are melting from above and below due to rising temperatures of the air and ocean water. Melting ice in the Arctic and Antarctica will contribute to a rise in ocean water around the world, scientists say. The melting of ice at the Earth’s North and South poles could have wide-ranging effects all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these effects. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a documentary film showing some of these effects. Write an outline for your film and give it an eye-catching title. Write the narrative for the opening scene and list images you would use.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
4. Beer to Energy
When communities shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, bars and restaurants had do close their doors. That had a huge impact on companies that supply food and drink — especially beer companies. In the southern Pacific nation of Australia, however, one community came up with an unusual way to use all that stale, unsold beer. A wastewater treatment plant devised a way to use it to produce bio-gas to power the facility. Ordinarily the Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant in southern Australia mixes organic industrial waste with sewage sludge to produce the electricity that runs the facility. With unused beer from local breweries, it was able to boost the production of bio-gas and produce more electricity than normal, CNN News reported. Beer was a great material to add to the process because it has natural carbonation and high caloric value, officials said. “By adding around 150,000 liters of expired beer per week, we generated a record 355,200 cubic meters of bio-gas in May and another 320,000 cubic meters in June,” a plant spokesperson said. Many communities are looking for ways to generate electricity without using fossil fuels like coal, oil or natural gas. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different efforts. Choose one and create a multi-media presentation to explain how it works, why that is better for the environment and other benefits it provides.
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. Helping Hand
When people are down on their luck, they sometimes just need a helping hand to get back on their feet. In Nashville, Tennessee, a homeless woman sleeping in her car outside a Kroger grocery store got help from the manager of that store — and now she’s working there. LaShenda Williams had been homeless off and on for several years when she applied for a job at the Kroger. She was scraping by doing housecleaning and cooking jobs, but couldn’t afford an apartment. So she slept in her car at the Kroger because it was open all night and the parking lot was well lit. She felt “I’d be safe there,” the Washington Post newspaper reported. One morning she found a job flier on her windshield and got up her courage to go inside and ask about a job. The manager, Jacqueline Vandal, helped Williams fill out the application. Impressed with Williams’ attitude, Vandal hired her on the spot. With a steady job, Williams was able to get a small apartment, which Kroger customers and employees helped furnish. “I have a home to drive to!” she says. “I’m … grateful to be alive. … I’m still standing.” Help from the Kroger manager made a difference in the life of LaShenda Williams. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone making a difference in another person’s life. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing how the person’s actions could inspire others to help people in need.
Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.