Civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. This week the nation honors his life with the celebration of the Martin Luther King Day national holiday. On April 16, 1963, Dr. King wrote his famous "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" after being imprisoned for non-violent demonstrations against racial segregation. In the letter, he wrote "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." As a class, read his amazing letter. Then find an article in today's newspaper about an issue that troubles you. Write a letter to your U.S. congressperson expressing your concerns.
Core/National Standard: Identifying and explaining how individuals in history demonstrated good character and personal virtue.
2. The Past and Present
After 444 days of captivity, 52 United States hostages were released by the Middle Eastern nation of Iran on January 20, 1981. The hostages were employees of U.S. Embassy in Iran’s capital city of Tehran. Militant students took them hostage when the U.S. government allowed the ousted shah of Iran to come to the United States for medical treatment. Then-President Jimmy Carter’s attempts to peacefully negotiate release of the hostages failed, but minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th president, the Iranians released them. Find a newspaper article about relations between Iran and the United States today. Write an opinion essay on what the key issues are today, and what impact the past has had on today’s relations, if any.
Core/National Standard: Writing arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics.
3. That’s My Candidate
Rhetoric is heating up between Republican candidates in the presidential race. Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, has been leading in the polls. However, during debates, candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have accused Romney of being “moderate, weak, unprincipled and untruthful,” according to a Yahoo! News article. Romney pushed back, saying he wasn’t a “career politician” like Gingrich and Santorum, who each served for years in the U.S. Congress. Romney said he brings a strong business background to the office. Divide the class into small groups and have each group pick a Republican candidate for president. Have each group find as many articles as it can in the newspaper or online and put together a campaign information package for that candidate. Present information on each candidate to the class.
Core/National Standard: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts and information.
4. Super Bowl Bound
On January 15, 1967, the first football world championship was played in the Los Angeles Coliseum. More than 61,000 people were on hand to watch the Green Bay Packers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in what would later become known as the Super Bowl. Bart Starr and Max McGee led the Packers to a 35-10 victory over the Chiefs. There were two football leagues at the time: the National Football League and the American Football League. The best team from each league played in the game until the leagues merged in 1970. Green Bay won the next year, too. Search your newspaper’s sports section for statistics of NFL playoff teams for passing, receiving, rushing yards, touchdowns, field goals, turnovers, and overall wins and losses. Using those statistics put together a mathematical analysis of which teams should reach this year’s Super Bowl February 5, and which team you think should win.
Core/National Standard: Using appropriate mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations.
5. I Am Who I Am
Sydney Spies, a senior at Durango High School in Colorado, wore a mini-skirt and a black shawl that exposed her shoulder and midriff for her senior portrait. The editors of the school’s yearbook judged the picture to be “unprofessional” and refused to run it. Spies is fighting the decision of the editors, saying it violates her right to freedom of expression. The student blames the school administration for the decision. She said the administrators “informed her the photo would not be permitted because it violated dress code,” according to an ABC News story. The editors said the administration had nothing to do with their decision. Find a newspaper article about someone fighting for the right to express himself or herself. As a class debate whether or not that person’s rights are being violated. Take a vote at the end of the vote.
Core/National Standard: Propelling conversations by posing and responding to questions.