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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of July 13, 2020

1. Mississippi Flag Change

The Black Lives Matter movement is bringing change to every corner of the nation. In the state of Mississippi, it has prompted lawmakers to change the state flag that has featured a divisive Confederate symbol for 126 years. By wide margins the Mississippi House and Senate voted to remove the Confederate battle emblem featured on the flag, and Governor Tate Reeves quickly signed it into law. For African Americans and others, the Confederate emblem on the flag was a daily reminder of Mississippi’s support of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow laws after the Civil War and systemic discrimination and violence by white Mississippians against black citizens. Mississippi has the highest percentage of African Americans of any state in the nation. “People’s hearts have changed,” the Republican speaker of the Mississippi House said of the flag change. “We are better today than we were yesterday.” Changes brought by the Black Lives Matter movement range from redesign of Mississippi’s state flag to removal of statues honoring Confederate heroes to changing the names of streets and buildings. Supporters of such moves say communities should not honor people who supported slavery, racial segregation, or systemic injustice. Others argue that the actions of such people are part of American history and should be addressed and put into context with modern attitudes rather than erased entirely. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about communities removing statues or symbols of racial injustice from the past. Use what you read to write an editorial addressing how communities can stop honoring people who supported slavery or injustice while also acknowledging their role in American history.

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.

2. Party Punishment

Coronavirus cases are on the rise again as the nation reopens after weeks of stay-at-home orders. And one reason is that people have jumped at the chance to gather in groups to party — without facemasks or social distancing. At Tulane University in the state of Louisiana, officials are taking strong steps to ensure that students follow safe practices on campus. The college dean of students has warned that students who throw large parties could face suspension or even expulsion from the prestigious school in the city of New Orleans. Louisiana has seen a surge in cases since it eased coronavirus restrictions and now ranks as one of the top three hot spots for corona among U.S. states. In a sharply worded letter to students, Tulane dean Erica Woodley asked “Do you really want to be the reason that Tulane and New Orleans have to shut down again?” The number of coronavirus cases is rebounding in the United States and other countries around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the new surge in cases and what countries are doing to deal with it. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper outlining effective ways to deal with the virus and why they seem to work.

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.

3. Leader Tests Positive

Like President Trump, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, refused to wear a mask in public and encouraged businesses in the South American country to stay open or reopen. Now, with Brazil becoming one of the world’s hot spots for virus cases, Bolsonaro himself has tested positive for the disease. Bolsonaro, who once likened the coronavirus to a “little flu,” announced the test results himself on Brazilian TV. Brazil is second only to the United States in numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths, CNN News reports. More than 65,000 people have died of the virus in Brazil and more than 1.6-million cases have been confirmed so far. The personal actions of national and state leaders can influence how people respond to problems like the coronavirus epidemic. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories describing how different leaders are responding to corona or another issue. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor analyzing what kind of role model different leaders are providing.

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.

4. Superstar Reward

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is one of the most exciting players in the National Football League. And now he is the highest paid in the history of the league. Mahomes and the Chiefs have agreed to a 10-year, $503 million contract extension that will keep him with the team through the 2031 season. Just 24 years old, Mahomes has had huge success in his three NFL seasons. In 2018 he passed for 5,097 yards, threw 50 touchdown passes, earned the league MVP and the Offensive Player of the Year Awards and led the Chiefs to the AFC championship game. In 2019, he passed for 4,031 yards, threw 26 touchdown passes, led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl championship and was named the Super Bowl MVP. Patrick Mahomes was rewarded with a huge contract extension because he is hugely important to the future of the Kansas City Chiefs. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another player who is hugely important to his or her team. Use what you read to write a sports column detailing why this player is so important and what the team would be like without him/her.

Common Core State Standards: Citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

5. Support for a Server

Restaurant servers are put in a terrible position when they are confronted by customers who refuse to wear face masks to comply with coronavirus safety rules. In the city of San Diego, California, Starbucks barista Lenin Gutierrez was bullied and berated on Facebook after he asked an unmasked woman if she had one to put on to comply with the company’s coronavirus policy. But something good came of it. Readers offended by the woman’s rant against Gutierrez started a GoFundMe campaign on the Internet to give people a chance to tip him and show support. In just over a week, donations topped $100,000 from people who felt Gutierrez had been “bullied for doing the right thing.” People often step up to reward others who have “done the right thing” or overcome adversity. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about people doing this for someone. Use what you read to draw an editorial cartoon showing how the person might respond to this unexpected show of support. If necessary, check out editorial cartoons in the newspaper or online to see how they use art to express opinions. Share and discuss with family and friends.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.