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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 25, 2021

1. Running Start

When people get off to a fast start, it’s often said they “hit the ground running.” President Biden hit the ground running after his inauguration last week — and he’s still running. On his first afternoon in office, he signed 17 executive orders and directives, setting new policies or changing those put in place by former President Trump. Since then, he has rolled out new policy plans on a daily basis. Among the actions taken just hours after he was sworn in were measures to respond to the coronavirus epidemic, boost the economy, protect the environment and rejoin agreements with other nations. To address the coronavirus, the President moved to require that masks be worn on all federal properties by employees and visitors and issued a “100 days masking challenge” urging all Americans to wear masks. He also signed an order reconnecting with the World Health Organization, which Trump pulled out of last year. On the environmental front, he signed a letter seeking to rejoin the Paris climate accords that are supported by nearly 200 nations to control global warming. He also signed measures to stop construction on the border wall on the Mexican border, to protect immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation, and require federal agencies to take steps to “root … out systemic racism” and provide equal opportunity for all employees. President Biden is moving quickly to enact measures to address top goals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about his efforts this week. Use what you read to write a political column about an action you think is important. Detail why this action is important to the nation and what the President will need to do to get it approved.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

In the next activity please link the word “here” to.

2. A Poet with Voice

When President Joe Biden was inaugurated last week, Amanda Gorman made history too. At age 22, she became the youngest poet to read her work at an inauguration ceremony. Gorman, who is Black, read her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the end of the inauguration ceremony, just before the benediction prayer. Born in Los Angeles, California, Gorman has been writing poetry since she was a young child. Before being chosen for the inauguration she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and while in college at Harvard she became the nation’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. In keeping with the theme of the inauguration, she used her poem to call for “hope and unity” but also addressed the violence of the assault on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6. As she told the Washington Post newspaper, “In my poem, I’m not going to in any way gloss over what we’ve seen over the past few weeks.” To read “The Hill We Climb” and watch Gorman read it, click here. In her inauguration poem, Amanda Gorman did not shy away from addressing the controversial issue of the mob attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Trump. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another controversial issue. Think like Amanda Gorman and write a poem, rap or rhyme addressing this issue, how you feel about it and how it affects you and your family.

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

3. Paying for Shots

Vaccines to protect people from the Covid-19 coronavirus are now available in the United States and other nations. Now the challenge is to get people to take the vaccine shots. A number of large business companies have come up with a practical way to encourage people to get vaccinated. They are paying employees to get the vaccines that can keep workers and customers healthy. Dollar General, Trader Joe’s, the Aldi grocery chain and the Instacart delivery service are among the firms giving workers financial incentives. Dollar General, Trader Joe’s and Aldi announced they will give workers four hours’ pay to get the two shots required by available vaccines. Instacart said it would offer a “vaccine support stipend” of $25 for its in-store employees and independent contractors. The success of the coronavirus vaccines will depend on how many people agree to be vaccinated. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories about efforts to persuade people to sign up for vaccine shots. Use what you read to create a multi-media advertising campaign to persuade people to get vaccinated. Brainstorm ideas for a print newspaper ad, a TV ad and an ad for the Internet or social media. Create a theme for your ads and write text for each one. Share with classmates or friends and discuss.

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.

4. Snow Cave

In snowy areas of the world, children often entertain themselves by building snow forts and snow caves. In the Canadian province of British Columbia this month, a 17-year-old snowmobiler put those skills to use after he got separated from his family in an area where night temperatures can drop as low as 58 degrees below zero. Robert Waldner, a 6’4” high school hockey player, built an elaborate snow cave to shelter in when it appeared he would have to stay out overnight after getting lost in on a snowmobile trail in near Mica Mountain. His cave at the edge of a meadow was seven-feet deep, more than three-feet wide and about seven feet long, the New York Times newspaper reported. It took him about two hours to build and he was confident it would be warm enough to keep him alive overnight. He left his snowmobile in the middle of the meadow so that rescuers could easily see it. Fortunately, they did, and after Waldner had been missing about six hours he was rescued. People often write creative stories about challenges people face in the wilderness or natural areas. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone facing such a challenge. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a creative story based on the person’s experience. Write an outline for your story and give it an eye-catching title.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. Super Bowl First

The last year has been a great one for women making history in the world of sports. In November, Kim Ng became the first woman in the history of Major League Baseball to become a general manager when she was named to that position by the Miami Marlins. In December, Vanderbilt University kicker Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play for a men’s football team in a Division I “Power Five” conference. Earlier this month, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon became the first woman ever to serve as acting head coach in a regular season NBA game. At this year’s Super Bowl next month, women will achieve another first. The National Football League has announced that Sarah Thomas will become the first woman to officiate in a Super Bowl, when she takes the field as the down judge February 7. The 47-year-old Thomas has been a permanent NFL official since 2015 and has four games of playoff experience. She was the first woman to become a permanent official in league history. Women face challenges breaking into all-male fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about women who have done this. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining challenges that women still face, the character qualities women need to meet them and what businesses or organizations can do to level the playing field.

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.