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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 30, 2017

1. Super Bowl

Next Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday and football fans all over the nation are gearing up to see whether the New England Patriots or the Atlanta Falcons will win the National Football League championship. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest sporting events in the world. It also is a huge event in the world of television advertising. Thirty-second ads for this year’s game will cost $5 million or more, and advertisers will roll out their most creative and memorable ads to make an impression on viewers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ads that companies are planning for this year’s Super Bowl. Think like a TV critic and write an assessment of which ads you think will cause the most buzz or conversation. For fun, brainstorm an idea for a Super Bowl ad that you think would be effective for a product you use.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. Nets to Thwart Bridge Leaps

Since the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937 over San Francisco Bay, more than 1,400 people have jumped off it to their deaths — a record 46 in 2014 and 33 in 2015. So California has decided to spend $142 million to construct a system of nets designed to prevent suicides. The nets will stretch about 20 feet wide on each side of the bridge, with construction expected to begin later this year. The cost of the net system is nearly twice what a consultant had projected the project would cost when it was first proposed. The construction of the Golden Gate net system is an example of a community doing something to improve public safety. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another effort to improve public safety in a community. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a video or short film detailing what is being done, why it is needed and whom it will help most. Then write the opening scene of your video, including the message to be conveyed and the images that will be used.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. Buying Cars vs. Sharing Rides

More than seven out of every 10 young Americans are aware of ride services such as Uber or Lyft, but most have never used them. And even though ride services are expanding, 76 percent of young Americans said they intend to buy or lease a vehicle in the next two years, according to a survey by Kelly Blue Book, which tracks car sales and prices. Among all Americans, a survey of people 18 to 64 found that most said they believe owning a car is more reliable (81 percent), safer (80 percent) and more convenient (74 percent) than shared services. Many people want to own a car, but first they have to decide what is the best car for them. In the newspaper or online, find and study ads for automobiles. From what you find, make a list of features and qualities that would be important to you in a car. Then write a “consumer report” summarizing what would be three good cars for you. Share with the class and discuss.

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.

4. Neighbor Buys Playboy Mansion

The Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, California has found a buyer at last. It’s the person who lives next door — Hostess Brands owner Daren Metropoulos, maker of Twinkies snacks. Sale price was $100 million, though the seller, Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner, had listed it at $200 million. Still, $100 million was a record price for a residence in Los Angeles. Under the terms of the sale, Hefner, 90, must be allowed to stay in the house indefinitely. Playboy bought the property in 1971, and Hefner moved in in 1975, hosting lavish parties attended by the rich and famous who wanted to mingle with Playboy’s bunny-eared models. The new owner is expected to connect it to his house to create a mega-mansion or estate. Every state or community has properties that draw wide interest when they are sold or put up for sale. Some are historic, some are owned by famous people and some are just unusual. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a property getting attention for being sold or put up for sale. Use your imagination and what you read to write a poem, rap or rhyme explaining why people are interested in the building. For added challenge, write your poem from the point of view of the building telling its own story. Share poems as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Backyard Chicken Risks

Keeping chickens in the back yard is becoming increasingly popular in many urban and suburban areas, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns it’s causing an “emerging public health hazard” — salmonella. This infection — which can make you very ill and can even be fatal — has sickened 2,630 people since 1990, hospitalizing 387 and killing five in cases related to backyard chickens and poultry. Chickens and poultry naturally carry the salmonella bacteria and that increases risks to people. A new CDC study says that chickens “are increasingly being considered household pets,” with people allowing “high-risk practices,” like allowing them into the house, and even kissing them. Stories describing health risks are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read one. Use what you read to give a short oral summary of key points to the class. Support your presentation with images from the newspaper or Internet if you like. Discuss as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.