For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 30, 2019

1. Climate Fear

Climate change is causing worry for many people all over the world. For American teens, the emotional reaction is even stronger. According to a new nationwide survey, it is causing fear among teens about what will become of the Earth they’ll inherit. More than 7 in 10 teenagers and young adults say climate change will cause a moderate or great deal of harm to people in their generation, according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post newspaper and the Kaiser Family Foundation. Eighty-six percent of teens believe humans are causing global warming. And more and more feel they have to do something about it. One in four teens who responded to the poll said they have already taken action on climate change by writing to a public official, attending a rally or participating in a school walkout such as those organized by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg. “This generation — we’re fighters,” 16-year-old Madeline Graham told the Washington Post. “And we’re going to win.” Teens and young adults are taking action to make their views known on climate change and other issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about teen involvement in issues important to them. Use what you read to write an opinion column examining how teens are expressing their views on issues, why it is important for teens to speak out on issues and why adults should listen to them. 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. Promoting Women

In the business world, gender inequality can be seen in many ways. It can be seen in differences between what men and women are paid and how they are promoted. And it can be seen in careers where workers are mostly men and few women apply. A university in the southern Pacific nation of Australia is trying to remedy this last kind of gender inequality by addressing the “woman problem” the nation has in the fields of engineering, information technology and construction. Starting in 2020 the University of Technology Sydney will adjust the rankings on admission tests to ensure more women get into programs in these male-dominated fields in which fewer than 28% of the roles are held by women, the university says. While critics fear the new program will discriminate against men, the university has gotten a 10-year exemption from the Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales for such claims because the program “helps redress past or present discrimination.” Gender inequality is often in the news in the business world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one case of gender inequality (or alleged inequality). Use what you read to write a letter to the editor addressing the issues of inequality in the case, what is being done about it or what should be done.

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

3. Monkey Business

Artists often use their work to offer commentary on events or people in the world around them. The British artist known as Banksy certainly is famous for doing this, and one of his most well-known “commentary” works is about to go on sale. The work, titled “Devolved Parliament,” shows Britain’s House of Commons legislature with all the members replaced by chimpanzees. It is Banksy’s largest painting at 13 feet wide and is expected to sell for $2.5-million or more at an auction sale being run next month by the Sotheby’s auction house. The sale of the painting comes at a time when Britain’s Parliament and House of Commons are in the spotlight as they debate how to approach Britain’s “Brexit” from the European Union. Political cartoons are a kind of artwork that offers commentary on politics, politicians, public affairs or other issues. Like Banksy’s chimp Parliament, political cartoons may represent people as animals or present them in unflattering ways. In the newspaper or online, find and study political cartoons to see how they are drawn. Then find and closely read stories about an issue important to you. Use what you read to draw two political cartoons addressing the issue or people involved in the issue. Share cartoons with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. Get Your Raptor Hijab

Last spring, the Toronto Raptors made history when they won their first NBA basketball championship ever. Now the team is making history of a different kind. In an effort to be inclusive of fans of all cultures, the Raptors have added hijab head gear to the team-branded merchandise it offers in its store and online. The Raptors are believed to be the first NBA team to offer hijabs, the head coverings worn by some Muslim women. The team partnered with Nike to design the hijabs, and they have been well received by Toronto’s Muslim community. With more than 400,000 Muslims, “Toronto is a great multicultural city to introduce something like this,” noted one local Muslim leader. “It sends a powerful message of inclusion,” said another. Sports teams, businesses and other institutions often take steps to be more inclusive and diverse in their approach. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an effort to be more inclusive such as this. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining how the effort to promote inclusion and diversity benefits both the institution and the community.

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.

5. Divided Over Pipeline

In many situations, a big development like an oil pipeline might be expected to draw opposition from Native Americans and indigenous peoples. But in western Canada, a plan to expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline has drawn support as well as opposition from indigenous groups. The expansion would double the capacity of the pipeline that transports oil from the province of Alberta to the coast in British Columbia to the west. Some tribes, like the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation oppose the pipeline on the ground it would endanger the environment, especially near the coast. Others, like members of the Western Indigenous Pipeline Group, want to become part owners of the pipeline so that indigenous people may benefit economically. “We’ve been shut out of the economy since Canada was created,” said Michael LeBourdais of the pipeline group. That argument has not swayed opponents of the project. Tsleil-Waututh leader Leah George-Wilson told the Washington Post “there’s a lot of risk and uncertainty … whoever owns it.” Her nation has filed a lawsuit to block the project. Development plans that affect the environment often cause great debate and disagreement. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one such development. Use what you read to prepare a multi-media presentation on the development plans and the reaction they have generated. Be sure to represent all viewpoints in the debate and what you think will be the outcome.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.