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For Grades 9-12 , week of Apr 02, 2012

1. Facebook Fanaticism

Ah, Facebook. The most public of forums for all things “me.” Western Illinois University professor Christopher Carpenter did a study not long ago that looked at the link between Facebook use, narcissism and anti-social behavior. According to ABC News, Carpenter defined narcissism as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance.” The researchers used a Narcissistic Personality Inventory and surveyed 292 people to measure their self-promoting and anti-social behavior, including constantly updating their Facebook status, getting angry when others don’t comment and retaliating against negative comments. The study also found that “grandiose exhibitionism correlated with anti-social behavior on Facebook.” Carter said Facebook, “offers a gateway for hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication.” It also has been criticized for being a vehicle for bullying. Search the newspaper for articles on anti-social behavior on social media sites. Or find examples online. As a class, discuss the ramifications of these behaviors.

Core/National Standard: Posing questions that elicit elaboration and responding to others’ questions and comments

2. April Fools Day Story

April 1 was April Fools Day. Read a short article in today's newspaper about something interesting that happened yesterday. Rewrite the article, but switch around the facts of the story to make a silly new story. Read your goofy creation to the class. Give it a goofy headline.

Core/National Standard: Writing fluently for multiple purposes to produce compositions, such as personal narratives, persuasive essays, lab reports and poetry.

3. Sportsmanship, or the Lack Thereof

An athlete does something wrong, and he or she gets benched. But you rarely hear of a coach getting benched. Until now. New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended without pay for all of next season because his NFL team ran a “bounty system” under which players got financial rewards for hurting opposing players. Payton is the first head coach ever suspended by the league for any reason. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also indefinitely banned the team’s former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from the league. Goodell wasn’t finished when he sanctioned the coaches. He also fined the organization $500,000 and took away the Saints’ second round draft picks. In an Associated Press article, Goodell said, “We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities.” Find a newspaper article about the “bounty controversy” in the NFL. Or find one online. Write an editorial giving your view about what the league should do about any bounty system.

Core/National Standard: Writing arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

4. Hang Up and Drive!

Girls!!! Listen up!!! Put your phones, iPods, iPads, mascara, lip gloss and lattes down and just drive. A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that teen girls are twice as likely as boys to use cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. In-car video cameras were placed in the vehicles of 50 unsupervised teen drivers. The videos showed teens not only making phone calls, but texting, doing personal grooming, reaching for things, eating and drinking while driving. Distracted driving has contributed greatly to making car crashes the leading cause of death for teenagers, said Peter Kissinger, the foundation’s CEO. With the newspaper or Internet, find articles about teen driving, safety and statistics about accidents caused by distracted driving. Using information from the articles, discuss starting a safe driving campaign at your school.

Core/National Standard: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions

5. No Trifling With Truffles

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mark Zuckerberg made millions with Facebook, and Biz Stone and Evan Williams were the young hotshots behind Twitter. But I’ll bet you’ve never heard of teen international business sensation Ian Purkayastha. The 19-year-old, who’s originally from Arkansas, has earned more than $1 million in sales for his truffles. We’re not talking about the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate goodies, but the grown-in-the-mud, snuffled-out-by-a-pig mushrooms. These culinary delicacies sell for up to $5,000 per pound. Search your newspaper for unlikely career options and write an essay about one you find interesting. Don’t forget the Help Wanted ads when searching.

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