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For Grades 9-12 , week of Feb. 13, 2023

1. Presidential Election Change

The 2024 race for president is more than a year away, but candidates and the nation’s political parties are already making plans. Former President Donald Trump has announced he is running for the Republican nomination, and President and Democrat Joe Biden is expected soon to declare he is running for re-election. Equally big news for the Democrats is a move to shake up the order of the primary elections used by the states to select candidates. At its yearly winter meeting the Democratic National Committee voted to change the order of primaries in a big way. Instead of leading off with the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucuses, Democrats have voted to start the primary season in South Carolina on February 3, 2024. New Hampshire and Nevada are then scheduled to follow on February 6, with Georgia on February 13 and Michigan on February 27. The change is designed to more accurately reflect the racial diversity of the Democratic Party at the start of the primary process, party leaders said. The former leadoff states New Hampshire and Iowa are each more than 90 percent white, while South Carolina has a population that is 27 percent Black. “This is a significant effort to make the presidential primary nominating process more reflective of the diversity of this country,” said Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan. Some states have balked at changing the primary calendar, particularly New Hampshire which has a state law requiring it to be the first primary. Political experts are already talking about what might happen in the 2024 presidential race. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories and commentaries about the next presidential election. Use what you read to write a political column of your own, highlighting topics and issues you think will be significant. Share and discuss as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Screen Time Risks

Parents are always looking for ways to help their children be successful in school or life. One way may be to limit the amount of “screen time” young children get as babies or toddlers. According to a new study, higher amounts of screen time for children 18 months or younger can inhibit the development of “success skills” that allow them to plan, focus attention, remember instructions or juggle multiple tasks at once. Those skills are important for developing higher-level thinking, academic achievement and emotional and mental health when children are older, the researchers said. The study found an association between the amount of time infants are exposed to screen activities through phones or computers and the level of success they had at 9 years old, CNN News reported. The results support recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which discourages all screen time before 18 months old, with the exception of video chatting. Many studies have been done about child development and things that can help make children successful in later years. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one or more of these studies. Use what you read to write a one-page advice sheet for parents summarizing top suggestions.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Pope for Peace

In the African nation of South Sudan, civil war has been raging since 2013, bringing hardship to families, children and villages. In the 10 years since the war started, more than 4-million South Sudanese people have been forced from their homes by the fighting — 65 percent of them younger than 18. World leaders and human rights advocates have been calling for an end to the fighting for years, and now one of the world’s foremost spiritual leaders has added his voice. Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, has issued a “heartfelt appeal to end all conflict and to resume the peace process in a serious way.” In a visit to the war-torn nation, the Pope declared “there is no room for delay” in implementing a peace agreement that has been stalled since 2018. “The future cannot lie in refugee camps,” the 86-year-old Pope said. “ … Great numbers of children born in recent years have only known the reality of [the] camps for displaced persons.” As head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is the moral leader of the world’s 1.3-billion Catholics. Many nations in the world are torn by war and conflict. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to read stories about conflict in one nation. Use what you read to prepare a multi-media report on the conflict, detailing its origins, the forces that are in conflict, what each wants and what would happen if either side won.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

4.‘Queen of the Skies’

When it was first introduced more than 50 years ago, the Boeing 747 airplane was the largest passenger jet in the world. In time, it became one of the most popular jets for carrying both passengers and freight — so popular it became known as the “Queen of the Skies.” This month, however, the Queen marked an end to her reign, when the last 747 rolled off the assembly line in Everett, Washington. Boeing has announced it will make no more 747s after the 747-8 Freighter it produced to serve the American cargo airline Atlas Air. Featuring four engines and an extra wide body, the first Boeing 747 made its initial flight on February 9, 1969, CNN News reported. The “jumbo jet” quickly became a passenger favorite, and even served as a flying White House for the President of the United States under the name Air Force One. In recent years, the popularity dropped for 747s, as airlines chose to replace the model with larger, more advanced and more efficient twin-engine planes. The 747 now is mostly used for cargo shipments, with more than 300 747 Freighters in use but only 44 passenger planes. The Boeing 747 was a game-changing innovation in air travel. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another game-changing invention in transportation or another field. Use what you read to write a business column, outlining how this invention or innovation has changed its field and why that is important.

Common Core State Standards: Citing textual or visual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. What an Alternative!

When people are convicted of crimes, they usually go to jail. But sometimes judges have the option for alternative sentences. That was the case in the state of Texas last month when a federal judge chose an unusual alternative for a woman who had pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, the Washington Post reported. Chief U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Chelsea Madill to three years of supervised release with one special condition — she must finish her law degree. Crane had enrolled in law school after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. She decided to become a lawyer because she had had difficulty finding an attorney she could afford. She took law classes while waiting to be sentenced and was “already well into law school” by the time her sentencing took place January 9. Because of that Judge Crane made finishing her law degree a condition of her sentence “and she was in agreement with that,” Crane said. “I think this was a life lesson for her,” Crane told the Washington Post. “And she’ll be a lawyer that really contributes to our society.” People often make news when they make positive changes in their lives. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one person who has done this. Use what you read to write a short editorial detailing how the changes this person made could be a model and inspiration for others.

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