For Grades 9-12 , week of Dec. 17, 2018

1. Holiday Ads

Next to the Super Bowl, the December holiday season is the biggest and most creative for TV advertising. Companies and stores roll out their most elaborate and clever ads in an effort to encourage shoppers to buy their products. As a class, discuss TV holiday ads you have seen this year that stick in your mind. Discuss what makes them eye-catching or memorable. Then pick a memorable TV ad you have seen, or watch TV to find one. Think like an advertising expert and write a paragraph analyzing what makes it clever, effective or memorable.

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. Sore Losers

In the midwestern state of Wisconsin, Republicans lost all statewide contests to Democrats in the November election. But before it adjourned for the year, the Republican-controlled state legislature decided it needed to limit the power of two statewide offices won by the Democrats — the offices of governor and attorney general. The legislature also moved to limit early voting, a practice that political experts say helps Democrats. Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers, who defeated incumbent Republican Scott Walker, said he may take legal action to challenge the bills. “If Scott Walker had won this election — and he did not; I did — we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about this today,” Evers said. In Michigan, where Democrat Gretchen Whitmer was elected governor, Republican legislators are pushing similar measures to limit the powers of Democratic office holders. The moves by Wisconsin and Michigan legislators to limit the powers of incoming officials have sparked political debate all over the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the debate and controversy over the moves. Use what you read to write a short editorial giving your view on whether such efforts are appropriate following an election.

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.

3. Women in Movies

In recent years there has been increased discussion about giving women more opportunities to direct and star in movies. Many reasons have been given for why Hollywood should do this, but a new study offers a new one — money. The study looked at top movies made between 2014 and 2017 and concluded that films with female lead characters consistently earned more than films with male leads, regardless of how much money was spent to make the movies. The analysis by the Creative Artists Agency and the strategy group called shift7 was based on 350 films with budgets ranging from less than $10 million to $100 million or more, the New York Times reported. Movies with female leads included “Wonder Woman,” the Disney movie “Moana,” “Trolls,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Inside Out,” among others. The movie industry was long dominated by men, but that is changing. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about movies directed by women or starring women. Use what you read to write an “On the Movies” column discussing how Hollywood would benefit if more women were given opportunities to direct and star in films.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Arctic Report Card

Global warming is having great impact all over the world, but nowhere more than the Arctic region near the Earth’s North Pole. What happens in the Arctic can affect conditions all over th world, and a LOT is happening, according to a new report. The 2018 Arctic Report Card from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reveals that in the last year the Arctic region experienced the second-warmest air temperatures ever recorded and the second-lowest overall sea-ice coverage. More significantly, the Arctic sea ice was “younger and thinner” than in the past. The age and thickness of sea ice are keys to maintaining the stability of the Arctic ecosystem, because ice older than four years can keep the region cool even in warm weather. If it melts, more heat is absorbed by the Earth because dark blue sea water absorbs more heat from sunlight than white ice, which reflects the light. Global warming is making news all over the Earth. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effect of global warming. Use what you read to design a poster explaining the effect and why it is important. Use art from the newspaper or internet to illustrate your poster and write text blocks to explain key points.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Driving for Students

Getting into college can be a big challenge for students, but for some, getting TO college is even bigger. Especially if they are from low income families. In the state of New York, a 76-year-old retiree from the city of Syracuse has solved that problem by volunteering to drive students to college at no charge. In the last eight years Paul Goetchius has helped hundreds of students and logged more than 64,000 miles of free transportation. That is the equivalent of driving around the world two and half times, for those interested in the math. Goetchius got the idea for college driving from a Syracuse program called On Point for College, which helps disadvantaged kids get to college and further their education. He’s willing to drive all over New York State, except for New York City (“too much traffic”). He has driven some students over and over again, and treats them to lunch or breakfast on the way. “I just love driving, and I love these kids,” he told the Washington Post newspaper. Volunteers like Paul Goetchius can have a huge impact on the lives of others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person having impact as a volunteer. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for honoring this person for his/her volunteer efforts. Write a letter to a local government leader proposing a way to honor this person. Consider ways for the honor to continue the good the person is doing.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.