1. A Record for Women
In 2020 the nation celebrated the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote through the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In 2022, women have set a new record for the number of women elected to the U.S. Congress. A record 149 women will serve in the U.S. House and Senate when they take their oaths of office in January, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. That total tops the previous record set in 2020 when 147 women were elected. The U.S. House will set a new overall record for female representation, with 124 women taking office next month. There will be 25 women in the U.S. Senate, one fewer than served in 2020. Of the 149 women taking office in January, 107 are Democrats and 42 are Republicans. Women of both parties will hold nearly 28 percent of the seats in the House and Senate. Women are playing greater and greater roles in politics and government. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one woman who is doing this. Use what you read to write a political column telling how this woman became successful in politics, what obstacles she had to overcome and how her experiences or point of view are, or will be, felt in her role.
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.
Every year the Merriam-Webster dictionary company picks a “Word of the Year” based on words that are looked up the most in their online dictionary at www.merriam-webster.com. The words, which can be from any field, reflect the trends, attitudes and behaviors that got people’s attention the most during the previous 12 months. This year, the editors of the dictionary have chosen “gaslighting” as the Word of the Year — a term for “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage.” “Gaslighting” was first used in a play and movie from the 1940s in which a man tried to convince a woman she had not seen or experienced things that were true in an effort to make her believe she was insane. Today, “gaslighting” is widely practiced in politics, online debates and social media. “In this age of misinformation — of ‘fake news,’ conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls and ‘deep fakes’ — gaslighting has emerged as a word for our time,” the dictionary company said when unveiling its pick. “It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year.” The last two Merriam-Webster Words of the Year were both related to the coronavirus — “vaccine” in 2021 and “pandemic” in 2020. “Gaslighting” and the spread of misinformation are growing problems in politics, social media and discussions of issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories that involve the spread of misinformation. Use what you read to write an editorial for the newspaper assessing the dangers of misinformation and how to guard against it. Share and discuss as a class.
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.
3. Holiday Giving
Each year during the holiday season, people make donations to organizations that do good in the community or the world. These organizations may help children, wildlife, poor people or others in need of support. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about organizations that work to do good in your community, the nation or the world. Pretend you have a lot of money to donate this holiday season. Pick one local organization, one national organization and one worldwide organization you would donate to. For each, write a paragraph explaining why you would support the group’s efforts.
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.
4. ‘Gingerbread Cathedral’
For some students writing a paper is a truly painful assignment — and they’d do anything to get out of it. In the state of Utah, three high school boys found a really sweet way to avoid a writing assignment, and they’re getting nationwide attention for it. They built an elaborate gingerbread house based on a challenge from one of their teachers — and it is so big and so detailed it is now on display in their high school library in the city of South Jordan. The house is actually no house at all, but a giant “Gingerbread Cathedral” based on the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. One of the teens had visited the cathedral on a field trip and thought it would be fun to “go big” and outshine others who chose to make gingerbread houses instead of writing a three-page paper on mortgages for their finance class. The cathedral, which features an exterior of graham crackers, frosting, pretzels, chocolates, Hershey kisses, Jolly Ranchers and gumdrops, took nine days to build. “My favorite part was when we finished,” one of the teens told KSL-TV news. Teens often make news by doing unusual or creative things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a teen or group of teens doing something like this. Pretend you are a TV news reporter and write out five questions you would like to ask the teen about their achievement or activity. For each question write out why you would want the answer.
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.
5. ‘Thanksgiving Miracle’
When people travel on cruise ships, one of their worst nightmares is the fear of falling overboard. In the Gulf of Mexico south of the United States, a 28-year-old man fell overboard in the middle of the night, and spent nearly a day in the water before he was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. The man went missing from the Carnival Valor cruise ship the night before Thanksgiving and was not rescued until 8:25 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, the Coast Guard said. “This is an exceptionally rare case,” a Coast Guard spokesman told the Washington Post newspaper. “It is really nothing short of a Thanksgiving miracle to be able to pick somebody up after that long in the water without any sort of flotation device.” Without a floating device, the man had to tread water for hours and hours in the way children are taught in swimming classes. “He just had an incredible will to survive,” another Coast Guardsman said. “He did whatever he had to do.” Amazing rescues often make news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one unusual rescue. Use what you read and additional research to write a letter to the editor calling attention to the special skills and/or equipment the rescuers needed to perform the rescue, and how they acquired them.
Common Core State Standards: 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; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.