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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 30, 2020

1. Business or Science?

Calvin Coolidge isn’t remembered for much as the 30th president of the United States — except for one famous quote, uttered way back in 1925. “The business of America is business,” Coolidge said during the boom times of the Roaring Twenties. As President Trump deals with the economic impact of the coronavirus, he seems to be channeling the spirit of President Coolidge. Trump has announced he wants the businesses of America up and running again by Easter. That puts him in conflict with scientists and medical leaders, some of them in his own administration, who feel the impact of the virus may be peaking just as the Easter religious holiday arrives in less than two weeks. “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,” the President said, referring to stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns in effect across the nation. “America will again, and soon, be open for business.” Public health experts strongly disagree. “If we let up now, we can be virtually certain that health care will be overwhelmed in many if not all parts of the country,” said Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist and health expert at Harvard University. The debate over re-opening American businesses is being closely watched as the coronavirus health emergency unfolds. Use the newspaper and Internet to follow developments about how the virus is spreading and predictions about the impact of efforts to contain it. Use what you read to write an editorial offering your view on President Trump’s proposal to have the nation’s businesses open, up and running by Easter.

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. Olympic Delay

Add the Summer Olympics to NBA basketball, NHL hockey, MLS soccer, Major League Baseball and the NCAA college basketball tournaments. The International Olympic Committee has announced it will delay the summer competition for a year in response to the worldwide spread of the coronavirus. The Summer Olympics were schedule to begin in July in the Asian city of Tokyo, Japan and now will be delayed until the summer of 2021. Although the Games only occur every four years, participating nations and their athletes had urged the Olympic Committee to postpone them due to worries about the virus spreading in Olympic crowds. The athletes also said the virus had disrupted training in ways that would have a negative impact on their performances. Summer Olympic competition has only been canceled three times in the history of the modern Olympics: in 1916 due to World War I and in 1940 and 1944 due to World War II. The delay of the Summer Olympics has affected thousands of athletes around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an American athlete who expected to compete in the Summer Games. Use what you read to write a sports column, examining how the delay could affect the athlete’s performance or prospects for success.

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.

3. Reach for Happiness

With coronavirus sweeping the world, people are feeling tremendous stress and anxiety as they self-quarantine and shelter in place. One way to deal with isolation and their emotions, CNN News reports, might be a tremendously popular “happiness” course offered by a Yale University professor. The course, created by psychology professor Laurie Santos, is available for free online through Coursera under the name “The Science of Well Being.” It stresses that the key to happiness is not career or school success, but cultivating healthy practices and routines — things like making social connections, showing gratitude or concentrating on living in the present moment, CNN reported. “We’re in a particularly challenging time not just for this health crisis, this physical health crisis, but also a potential mental health crisis as well,” Santos said in a CNN interview. When people are self-quarantining, they have a lot of time to think about ways to achieve happiness or wellbeing. In the newspaper or online, read and study stories, photos and ads involving things that would make you feel happy or contented. Or think of things in your life that make you happy. Use your experience and what you read to write a message to others explaining what “Happiness Is…” and how focusing on what makes people happy can help them cope with the stress of coronavirus.

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; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

4. Park Pushback

When the nation was asked to isolate and self-quarantine to stop the spread of the coronavirus, many turned to hiking as a way to be alone and still get exercise. The U.S. Interior Department even ordered the nation’s national parks to waive their entrance fees to make it “a little easier for the American public to enjoy the outdoors … recreate, embrace nature, and implement social distancing.” Not so fast, say the communities that border those parks. They are not equipped to handle a crush of visitors “from away,” especially with regard to lodging or medical services. “We’re closed for your hiking business right now,” said a spokesperson for Gunnison County, Colorado, home to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. In response to the pushback a number of leading national parks have closed their gates until further notice, including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Teton, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, the Great Smoky Mountains and Rocky Mountain National Parks. More could close following guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials encourage people who want to get outdoors to stay away from places that draw crowds. With the newspaper or Internet, find stories and photos involving outdoor places where people could get fresh air and exercise but avoid crowds. Write a letter to a friend telling about one place and what you could do there.

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.

5. In Other Words

With schools closed, students are being asked to learn at home with their families. A good way to do this is to learn how to put things in your own words. This is called paraphrasing (PAR-a-FRAZE-ing). News reporters often have to decide what to quote directly from sources, and what to paraphrase. Direct quotes — which are set off by quotation marks (“ ”) — usually are chosen because they are colorful, or describe a situation especially well. Skim stories on the front page of the news or sports section of the newspaper. Pick three direct quotes. Write the quotes out on a sheet of paper. Then paraphrase what the person is saying in your own words. A good way to start is to write “He/she said” and then paraphrase the direct quote.

Common Core State Standards: Applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; identifying multiple language conventions and using them.