For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 28, 2022

1. A Lego Zelensky

In Ukraine’s war against invading Russian forces, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has become a worldwide hero for his courage, strength and resolve to defend his homeland. Though he had no political background before becoming president — he was a comedian and entertainer — he has become an inspiring leader for his people and others around the world. One person who was inspired was artist Joe Trupia in the U.S. city of Chicago, Illinois. Trupia, who runs a toy company, has no personal connection to Ukraine, but after seeing Zelensky’s bravery he felt he needed to help the beleaguered European nation. So he created a Lego-like figure of President Zelensky and started selling it online to raise money for Ukrainian relief efforts. He thought he could make a small contribution, but his idea took off, the Washington Post newspaper reported. The Zelensky figure showing him in a military-green shirt, hoodie and unshaven face has sold out among supporters of Ukraine, along with a figure of a Molotov cocktail weapon. In just weeks Trupia raised $145,388 for Direct Relief, an organization providing medical aid to Ukraine. Artist Joe Trupia found a way to use his skills and business to help the people of Ukraine. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other people using special skills to help Ukrainians who are fighting or fleeing the war in their homeland. Use what you read to write an open letter to your community urging people to find ways to use their skills or businesses to provide help to Ukrainian people or refugees.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Banned Books Welcome

Over the last year there has been a rise in efforts to ban books in schools and libraries across the nation. Now a tiny library in the state of Maine is pushing back against the trend. The library on Matinicus Island 22 miles off the Maine coast wants to fill its shelves with books that have fallen out of favor or been banned elsewhere. The books include children’s books, young adult books and classic books for adults. They range from “And Tango Makes Three,” a story of two male penguins that raised a chick together, to the Holocaust graphic novel “Maus” to classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Grapes of Wrath,” the Associated Press news service reported. “We are buying banned books in order to publicly push back against the impetus to ban books,” one resident told the Bangor Daily News. “… To say, ‘If you don’t want it in your library, we want it in ours.’” Efforts to ban books have been getting a lot of attention this year, but they are not new. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about books that people have tried to ban in the past. Use what you read to write a paper or essay examining what types of books have been targeted most, what happened in the short run when people tried to ban them and what were the effects over a longer period of time.

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. Copyright

Copyright laws protect the rights of inventors, authors, artists, designers, filmmakers and other creators of original works or products. The nation’s founders felt these protections for “useful arts” were so important they included them in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution that set up the government. Now a college professor in the state of California is using copyright law to find out who posted exam questions from his business law class on the Internet. Professor David Berkovitz of Chapman University is suing unknown students who posted questions from midterm and final exams for copyright infringement. Berkovitz is not seeking to collect cash damages from the students who posted the questions on a college help website called Course Hero. He just wants to force the website to reveal who put the questions online and who took advantage of the postings during his exams, the Washington Post reported. Then he plans to pass the names on to Chapman’s honor board for possible disciplinary action. “He’s not trying to bankrupt his students or their parents,” his lawyer said. “What he’s trying to do is prevent cheating.” As a class, discuss why copyrights are important for creators of products or other works. Then use the newspaper or Internet to research a copyright case in the news. Use what you read to write a business column outlining how you think the case should be resolved.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. Woman of History

March is Women’s History Month, and this week the nation is mourning a woman who was a trailblazer at the highest levels of government. Madeleine K. Albright, who came to the United States as an 11-year-old refugee and became the nation’s first female secretary of state, died March 23 at the age of 84 after battling cancer. She was appointed secretary of state by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1997 and served until 2001. At the time of her appointment, she was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. Before that she had been the nation’s ambassador to the international United Nations organization for four years. As secretary of state, she was America’s leading policy-maker on issues dealing with other nations, and won wide admiration for her performance in a field previously dominated by men. Her success in the role helped pave the way for two other women to be appointed secretary of state — Republican Condoleezza Rice and Democrat Hillary Clinton. Madeleine Albright was a trailblazer in the field of politics and government. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a woman who is a trailblazer in another field. Use what you read to write a personal or political column assessing why the woman’s achievements are significant and what challenges or obstacles she had to overcome to be successful.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Pickleball

Staying active is one of the best ways to maintain health and fitness. That is why health experts often recommend looking beyond team sports like basketball or football when choosing sports to play. Instead, they urge people to choose “lifetime sports” they can play at all ages as they grow older. One of the newest “lifetime sports” to become popular in the United States is one with comically weird name. In just over two years, pickleball has become the country's fastest-growing sport. Pickleball combines tennis, ping pong and badminton and can be played indoors or outdoors, by single players or in pairs. It's played on a small court with a low net, which has made the sport especially popular with older players, even grandparents in their 70s or 80s. Players use a perforated plastic ball and paddles that are about twice the size of ping pong paddles. The goal is to hit the ball over the net and prevent your opponent from hitting it back. “It’s a lot of fun and easy to learn the rules,” says Ben Johns, the top ranked player in the United States for men’s singles and doubles. “The mechanics of the game are such that an 85-year-old can play with an 8-year-old.” Pickleball is a “lifetime sport” that has become hugely popular in the last several years. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another sport that could be enjoyed for a lifetime. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing how people could enjoy this “lifetime sport” at different ages. Share with the class.

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.