, week of
Jan. 13, 2020
1. Mideast on Edge
Nations across the Middle East remain on edge after the United States and the nation of Iran exchanged attacks last week. The U.S. initiated the conflict by launching a drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. Iranian forces responded by launching rockets against two military bases where U.S. soldiers are housed. No Americans were hurt at the bases, and President Trump said later that Iran appeared to be “standing down” in the military faceoff. At the same time, security experts worry that Iran supporters would launch “cyberwarfare” against U.S. computer systems. “Iran has the capability … to launch destructive attacks,” said the director of the U.S. Cybersecurity Agency. Iran has the expertise to target both private and government computer systems, the director said, and the nation needs to approach the situation as if “the next breach could be your last.” U.S. security officials remain on alert to detect threats by Iran to American forces, communities and businesses. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about security efforts and risks that officials are being alert to. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining key things the U.S. should watch for to maintain security in the weeks ahead.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
2. ‘Pre-Diabetes’ Risk
Diabetes is a disease that can cause serious health problems ranging from heart disease, to kidney failure, to blindness. More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, and a new study has revealed that one out of every five adolescents have “pre-diabetes” that could lead to the full form of the disease. According to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of U.S. adolescents and young adults who have “pre-diabetes” is evidence of “a growing epidemic” of diabetes in the United States. Diabetes occurs when blood sugar rises to unhealthy levels. Someone with prediabetes has a blood sugar level that is higher than normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Pre-diabetes is more common among youths and young adults who are obese than among those of normal weight, the CDC noted. Exercise, weight loss and healthier eating can bring blood sugar levels back to normal. People with pre-diabetes can take steps to ensure they don’t develop full diabetes. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about steps people can take. Then brainstorm an idea for a public service video. Write an outline for your video, including images you would use. Pick a celebrity to narrate your video, and write a paragraph to explain your choice.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
3. Michelle Video Series
Since leaving the White House three years ago, Michelle Obama has had no shortage of things to do. In addition to traveling widely with her husband Barack, she has devoted her energies to empowering young people, supporting women’s causes and promoting physical fitness for children. Now she’s branching out into the video world. The former first lady is launching a video series on Instagram that will put a spotlight on the issues college freshmen face in their first year. Called “A Year of Firsts,” the series will tell the stories of four college students as they navigate their first semesters. “As a first-generation college student myself, I know how intimidating it can be to take that leap and pursue your educational dreams,” Obama said in a blog post. “That's why I’m so proud of these students. By sharing their stories, they're helping others see that the ups and downs of the first year of college are something everyone goes through.” The six-part series will begin this month and end in June. It is premiering as Obama’s younger daughter Sasha navigates her first year as a freshman at the University of Michigan. Michelle Obama decided to do a video series on college freshmen because she thought their stories could help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other people whose stories could help others. Use what you read to write a proposal for a video series focusing on these people. In your proposal, tell how their stories could help others, and why people would find them interesting. Share ideas with the class and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
4. Milk Problems
For years, one of the most famous advertising campaigns in America asked the simple question “Got Milk?” The ads showed celebrities wearing milk mustaches after drinking the dairy product and promoted the benefits of milk as a healthy beverage. Despite the popularity of the campaign, consumption of milk has dropped across America in recent years. And now one of the nation’s oldest and largest milk producers has filed for bankruptcy. Borden Dairy Company said it filed for bankruptcy due to a nationwide decline in milk consumption and higher prices for raw milk, among other factors. Since 2015, milk consumption in the United States has dropped 6 percent, and 2,700 dairy farms went out of business in last year alone, CNN News reported. Borden is the second major milk company to file for bankruptcy in two months. Businesses are often affected by changes in people’s tastes and buying habits. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a business trying to deal with such changes. Use what you read to write a business column analyzing what the business could do to deal with or overcome changes in the marketplace.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
5. It’s a Boy!
Black rhinos are critically endangered in the wild, but breeding programs in zoos and nature preserves are keeping the species from going extinct. In the United States this month, zoo officials are celebrating the birth of a baby black rhino at the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan. “It’s a boy!” the zoo announced on its website after the baby was born on Christmas Eve. The baby was born to a 12-year-old female named Doppsee, who was bred with a 12-year-old male named Phineus from a zoo in Texas. The baby rhino was named “Jaali” in a vote by zoo supporters. “Jaali” means “powerful” in the Swahili language and is pronounced like the word "jolly.” About 5,000 black rhinos exist in the African wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund. That is a great improvement from 10 years ago, when black rhinos were on the brink of extinction with just 2,500 in the wild. Many wildlife species are now endangered or threatened in the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an endangered species. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor outlining the threats this species faces and how individuals, wildlife groups or communities could address those threats.
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.