For Grades 9-12 THE WEEK OF Oct. 15, 2018

1.A New Voice

The international United Nations organization gives each member nation a place to voice its views on issues around the world. For the last two years, the voice of the United States has been Ambassador Nikki Haley, who was appointed shortly after President Trump took office. Now, however, the U.S. will be getting a new spokesperson at the international organization. Haley has announced she will step down at the end of the year and take a break from her political career. The 46-year-old Haley served two terms as governor of South Carolina before taking the U.N. post. She is one of the highest ranking women in the Trump administration. The role of the United States in the world is often addressed by the nation’s ambassador to the United Nations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about U.S. relations with another country or countries. Write a paragraph summarizing the position of the U.S., what it is doing and how other nations feel about it.

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.Swift Results

Taylor Swift is one of the most popular singers in the world, with 112-million followers on Instagram. So when she decided to speak up about U.S. politics, she had a huge impact. She urged her followers to register to vote in America’s midterm elections November 6. And register they did. According to the voter registration site, there was a surge of registration requests after Swift put out her call just ahead of registration deadlines in states around the country. “This is leaps and bounds beyond what we typically see,” said a spokesperson. Swift, who hasn’t shared her political views in the past, also caused some controversy by supporting two Democratic candidates in her adopted state of Tennessee. Races in the midterm elections will likely be decided by how many people turn out to vote. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts by Democrats and Republicans to get their supporters to vote. Use what you read to write a short political analysis of which party seems positioned to be more successful. Be sure to support your analysis with details and evidence from your reading.

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.

3.Child Care Robot

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used for more and more things around the world. In the Asian nation of China, it’s now even helping out with parenting and child care. An android robot named BeanQ has been programmed to interact with toddlers and communicate as another child might. CNN news reports that the android can respond with words, show facial expressions as emojis and keep track of a child’s responses in a database. It provides both education and entertainment and can even be programmed to send photos to parents at remote locations or work. Children today are growing up with greater and greater exposure to technology. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about technology use by children, the benefits and the liabilities. Use what you read to write a parenting column for the newspaper offering advice on the best ways to expose children to technology, and at what age.

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.

4.Youth Drinking

Underage drinking is a significant problem in the United States, with 30 percent of high school students reporting in 2017 that they had drunk alcohol in the previous month and 14 percent saying they had engaged in binge drinking. Those were findings in the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also found that underage drinkers consume 11 percent of all alcohol drunk in the United States. In the European nation of Great Britain, however, youth drinking is dropping. Surveys by the World Health Organization and others have found that underage drinking has dropped by more than half in Britain and the percent of teens who consider themselves non-drinkers has nearly tripled. “Alcohol doesn’t play as important a role in socializing as it did in the past,” noted one British alcohol expert. “… There’s less of a culture of intoxication.” There is no single cause of the drop, experts say, but social media may play a role because posts can show people doing things that embarrass them later. As a class, discuss how much underage drinking goes on in your community, and whether that is a change from the past. Then find and closely read stories about underage drinking in the United States. Use your reading and points from the discussion to write a short editorial outlining what steps you think your community should take, if any, to reduce underage drinking.

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.Gecko Communication

In the Geico insurance commercials, the chatty cartoon gecko does all kinds of human things. At a marine mammal hospital in the state of Hawaii, a real-life gecko also did that. The small green lizard parked itself on the touch screen of a phone in the hospital lab and made dozens of calls to people on the hospital’s call list. The calls puzzled people who got them, sometimes over and over in rapid succession. The gecko was dialing people by shifting its feet on the lab’s “recently called” list. When animals do unusual things, it gets people’s attention. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an animal or wildlife species doing something unusual. Use what you read to write a creative story based on the animal’s actions. Your story can be serious, funny or satirical. Or it can use the animal as a symbol for people and the way they act.

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