For Grades 9-12 THE WEEK OF Oct. 22, 2018

1.Trump Money

Since his election in 2016, President Trump has done things no other president has done. From his Twitter comments, to pulling out of treaties, to insulting foreign leaders, Trump has broken new ground in American politics. Now he has reached another milestone. He has raised more than $100-million for his re-election, even though the next presidential race is more than two years away. Unlike other presidents, Trump started raising money for re-election as soon as he took office in 2016. His campaign committee and two committees working with the Republican National Committee have raised at least $106-million since January 2017, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Fund-raising for political campaigns has become a multi-million-dollar industry. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the money being raised for this year’s midterm elections on November 6. Use what you read to write a political analysis of one or two races in which fund-raising could be the difference.

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.Pure Poetry

Amanda Gorman is just a junior in college, but she already is making a name for herself in the literary world. Last year, she was named the first National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, and her work has won praise from literary leaders and even from former First Lady Michelle Obama. She published her first book of poetry — “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough” — in 2015 when she was just 17 years old, and her political poem “In This Place: An American Lyric” has won wide attention. Now 20 and a junior at Harvard, she is executive director of the One Pen One Page organization, which promotes literacy for underserved youth through creative writing programs. Her work has addressed social concerns ranging from inequality and injustice to climate change. “It’s not enough for me to write,” she has said. “I have to do right as well.” As an African American, Amanda Gorman has used poetry to offer commentary on a wide range of issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an issue important to you. Use what you read to write a political poem offering your views on the issue and challenging people to take action. Your poems do not need to rhyme, but should include powerful language, active verbs and strong adjectives. Read poems aloud with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

3.Very Smoky Farming

Air pollution is a big problem around the world, but especially in developing countries. And sometimes fighting it requires getting people to change traditions that have existed for years. In the South Asian nation of India, the government is taking aim at farmers in an effort to battle air pollution that is among the worst in the world. The goal is to get farmers to stop the tradition of burning their fields after the harvest to clear dead plants and debris for the next growing season. The burning contributes to heavy smog that blankets India each year in the winter months. Farmers have resisted because burning is a fast, cheap and efficient way to clear fields for new crops and less expensive than buying equipment to chop up dead plant material. Fighting pollution often requires people and businesses to change their behavior. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an anti-pollution effort seeking to do this. Use what you read to write a short editorial analyzing the success of the effort and whether it could be a model for other nations or communities.

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.Drug Prices

In an effort to drive down the price of prescription drugs, officials working with President Trump have proposed that drug manufacturers be required to list prices of medicines in their TV ads. The proposed rule would require pharmaceutical companies to include the price for any drug that costs more than $35 a month. Republicans like U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa called the proposal a “common-sense way to lower prices” by putting a spotlight on companies with high prices. Critics said the proposal lacked enforcement measures that could make companies comply. The costs of prescription drugs and health care are a top issue for voters in the November 6 general election. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about what candidates are saying about these issues. Use what you read to create a chart comparing positions of candidates on health and drug issues.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.

5.Better Late Than Ever

It’s always important to do the right thing, even if it takes a while. But it’s unlikely any “right thing” took as long as what happened in the state of Louisiana. A man returned a book his mother had borrowed from the local library — 84 years after she took it out! He found it when cleaning out his parents’ home and decided he should take it back to the Shreve Memorial Library in the city of Shreveport. The book — “Spoon River Anthology” by Edgar Lee Masters — had been checked out by the man’s mother in 1934 when she was 11 years old, the library said. Fortunately, there will be no overdue book fine to pay, as the woman’s account had been closed years ago. “Spoon River Anthology” is considered a classic in American literature, telling the life stories of residents of the town of Spoon River in poetry form. People often make news by doing the “right thing” — or something positive — when faced with a choice. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone doing a positive thing in this way. Use what you read to design a Certificate of Appreciation from the mayor or local government to thank and honor this person. In your certificate, include a paragraph explaining why the person’s action could inspire others.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.