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for Grades 9-12

Oct. 25, 2021
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For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 20, 2021

1. A Big NO to Recall

In the state of California, recall elections give voters a way to remove elected officials from office before their term is up. They don’t occur often for statewide offices, and this month an effort to remove Governor Gavin Newsom went down spectacularly to defeat. The recall effort had been led by the state’s Republicans, who wanted to remove the Democrat Newsom for his handling of the coronavirus epidemic and his positions on immigration and the death penalty. Yet when the votes were counted, nearly two-thirds of the state’s voters said “NO” to recalling Newsom before his term ends in 2023. The recall, which was put on the ballot by a petition drive gathering 12 percent of the turnout in the last governor’s election, was expensive, costing the state $276-million to organize and run. California last had a recall vote for a governor in 2003, when voters ousted Democrat Gray Davis and replaced him with Republican and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger. The California recall vote was considered an early indicator of how voters might respond to Democratic and Republican candidates in the 2022 elections. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read other stories about the 2022 elections and how voters are feeling about Republicans and Democrats. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing key issues facing the two parties in 2022.

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.

2. Teen Power

Every year around Labor Day, the U.S. Open tennis tournament attracts the top men’s and women’s players in the world. This year, the women’s championship match featured two players unlike any who had come before. Finalists Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez were both teenagers and the lowest ranked players ever to face off for the championship. On top of that, 18-year-old Raducanu had to play in a qualifying tournament just to earn a place in the world famous competition in New York City. Raducanu of Great Britain prevailed against 19-year-old Fernandez of Canada, winning in two straight sets 6-4, 6-3, capping a miraculous run in which she didn’t lose a single set in the entire tournament. Raducanu’s feat of winning 20-straight sets — and Fernandez’s upset of defending champion Naomi Osaka — made the two surprising finalists the darlings of the tennis world. Raducanu said the entire experience was “an absolute dream.” Young athletes often surprise the sports world with their talents, poise and achievements. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one young athlete who has done that. Write out five questions on topics you think other young athletes might like to hear answers from the successful young athlete.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

3. Sniffing for Covid

Early this year scientists in the European nation of Germany announced they were training dogs to sniff out evidence of the Covid 19 coronavirus in people. Now dogs have been employed at Miami International Airport in the U.S. state of Florida to detect the virus in airport employees. The Miami dogs were trained separately from those in Germany, but their goal is the same: to detect the presence of the virus in sweat, breath and scents due to changes the virus causes in the human body. In the Miami pilot program, two dogs — a Belgian Malinois named Cobra and a Dutch shepherd named One Betta — are sniffing the face coverings of employees as they pass through a security checkpoint, the Washington Post reports. So far, they have been very accurate. Statistics show that One Betta’s accuracy rate has been 98.1 percent, while Cobra’s has been an astonishing 99.4 percent. With 50 times more smell detectors in their noses than humans, dogs have long been used to sniff out explosives, weapons and evidence of missing people. Now they are being used as agents helping fight the coronavirus or other diseases. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about dogs helping in the fields of health or medicine. Use what you read to write a paragraph outlining what extra skills dogs bring to the fields that humans do not have.

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. No More Fossil Fuels

In a victory for environmentalists, Harvard University has announced it will end all of its investments in the fossil fuel industry in an effort to curb global warming. Harvard’s decision has both symbolic and financial impact, since Harvard’s $41-billion endowment is the largest among U.S. colleges and universities. Harvard President Larry S. Bacow said the university has ended all direct investment in fossil fuels and plans to allow its indirect investments in the industry — through private equity funds — to expire without renewal. In the past Harvard has resisted using its financial clout to take a stand on issues like global warming and climate change. Now, Bacow said, global warming has become such an important issue “we must act … as citizens, as scholars, and as an institution to address this crisis on as many fronts as we have at our disposal.” Many organizations are taking steps to reduce their contributions to climate change or to be an example for others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about organizations that are doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor calling attention to efforts you think are successful and explain why.

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

5. Parity for Women

In the United States, women have taken great pride in the gains they have made in politics in recent years. Women now make up nearly 27 percent of the U.S. Congress with 24 U.S. Senators and 119 members of the U.S. House. Across the nation 95 women hold statewide elective offices (31 percent), including 9 governor’s offices. As pleased as they are with this progress, women’s leaders recognize that much more needs to be done to achieve equality in U.S. politics. For evidence they only have to look to Mexico, our neighbor nation to the south. For the first time, 50 percent of lawmakers in Mexico’s lower house of Congress are women, the Washington Post newspaper reports. Women also are set to lead nearly a quarter of Mexico’s 32 states. More significantly, “parity in everything” has been written into Mexico’s constitution — for legislatures, courts and executive branch positions. That provision was part of a 2019 constitutional reform that not a single legislator voted against. Women are making their mark in politics in the United States and other nations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a woman playing a key role in politics or government. Use what you read to write a short profile of this woman for younger students. Tell what this woman is doing and why it is important. Be sure to use language that is at a reading level younger students would understand. Share your profile with a younger student you know.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.