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For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 05, 2012

1. Soaring Prices

Filling up your vehicle with gas these days is about as much fun as spending spring break writing a 500-page research paper. Prices topped $4 per gallon for regular unleaded gas last week, and experts are saying prices may continue to rise. But before you start to whine, consider the residents of Oslo, Norway, who pay $9.33 per gallon. Residents of Great Britain are paying $8.12 per gallon in London and Parisians are doling out $8.06 in France. Find a newspaper or Internet story about the rising cost of gas. As a class discuss what the United States can do as a country to become less dependent on foreign oil used to make gasoline.

Core/National Standard: Supporting claims in an analysis of substantive topics using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence

2. The Boston Massacre

On March 5, 1770, a group of American colonists gathered at the Customs House in Boston, Massachusetts, to protest the occupation of their city by British troops. When the colonists threw snowballs at the troops, the British opened fire with rifles, killing five people. When the colonists later began organizing for independence, they cited "the Boston Massacre" as an example of colonists standing up for their rights and freedom. Today, people stand up for their rights every day in one way or another. Find an example in the newspaper and summarize who is taking a stand, what right is involved and why the right is important.

Core/National Standards: Identifying historic responses of individuals to persecution, discrimination or violation of rights; evaluating decisions in light of core democratic values.

3. Them’s Fightin’ Words!

Politics is never pretty, but last week it got pretty ugly in the Michigan presidential primary. Many states have a law prohibiting people who belong to one political party from voting in the other party’s primary elections. Michigan doesn’t have such a law, so Democrats could vote in last week’s Republican primary. The wooing of those outside-the-party voters became a bone of contention between candidates Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. Romney, who grew up in Michigan, accused Santorum of taking advantage of the loophole to get votes he wouldn’t otherwise have gotten. “I’m not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support,” Romney said. “I am what I am.” Santorum shot back that he was going to go after any votes he could to win the primary. Find a newspaper story about the Republican race for president and write down negative comments expressed by each of the candidates. As a class discuss the effect of such “mudslinging” in elections and how it affects voters.

Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; presenting information, findings and supporting evidence in a clear and distinct manner.

4. Tragedy in Chardon

Students and community members in Chardon, Ohio, are mourning the death of three teenage boys after they allegedly were shot by 17-year-old T.J. Lane inside Chardon High School. Daniel Parmertor was killed immediately, and Demetrius Hewlin and Russell King Jr. died later from their wounds. Two other students were wounded in the attack, as teachers locked down their classrooms and students took cover. Lane doesn’t even attend the 1,100-member high school, but goes to nearby Lake Academy, a school for students with academic or behavioral problems. Prosecutors in Chardon said Lane admitted to bringing a .22-caliber pistol to the school as well as a knife. But officials aren’t commenting on a motive for the shooting. As a class, discuss ways to make schools safe for students. Then write a short editorial for the newspaper outlining a school safety plan to be used in the event of an emergency.

Core/National Standard: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience.

5. Teen Tech Wizards

“Mom! Can you give me a ride to Silicon Valley? I have a meeting with some venture capitalists.” It’s not too far fetched to believe that such conversations could happen more and more in homes where exceptionally bright and motivated teens live. Josh Buckley, for example, is the CEO of an online gaming start-up company, and just had his 20th birthday. Laura Deming is just 17, and left the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after receiving funding for her discovery of anti-aging technologies. Find a newspaper story about a young technologically savvy entrepreneur. Or find one online. Write a summary of what one person is doing and how he/she has become successful.

Core/National Standard: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas.