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Feb. 26, 2018

For Grades 9-12 , week of June 26, 2017

1. Alt-Right Denounced

The Southern Baptist Convention is a coalition of churches from the nation's largest Protestant denomination and an influential organization in U.S. religion. At its annual meeting this month, it took a stand on one of the most divisive issues in the nation — voting to denounce the “alt-right,” white nationalist movement. In the vote members agreed to a statement decrying “every form of racism, including alt-right white supremacy, as antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Race relations have long been a sensitive issue within the Southern Baptist denomination, which was founded in 1845, when it split from other Baptists who opposed slavery. The denomination formally voted to rebuke its past in 1995, but did not elect its first black president of the convention until 2012. The “alt-right” movement has gotten greater and greater attention this year by supporting President Trump and speaking out on other issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the “alt-right” movement and its impact on politics and the nation. Use what you read to write an analysis of “alt-right” positions and beliefs and the impact they have on politics, government, commentary and online behavior. Discuss with family or friends. Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. So Much for Humor

A student who gave a satirical speech for class president in the style of Donald Trump later was stripped of the office by school officials — and given detention. In the school election at Vero Beach High School in Florida, rising senior J.P. Krause gave an off the cuff speech in class in which he echoed some of the rhetoric Trump had used in the 2016 presidential race. Among his comments, he said his opponent “represents Sebastian River High School [and] what I propose is that we build a wall between here and Sebastian River, and we make Sebastian River pay for it.” School principal Shawn O’Keefe was not amused by the speech, and when Krause won the popular vote, the principal disqualified him from the election because he “created a situation of public humiliation” for his opponent. Upon learning about the incident, the Pacific Legal Foundation challenged the decision for Krause on the ground it violated his constitutional right of free speech. The principal said the school is reviewing the decision and may hold a new election. Freedom of speech is guaranteed for Americans in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Speech freedom can take many forms — from talking, to making movies, to creating art. With family or friends, discuss all the forms freedom of speech can take. Find examples in the newspaper or online, and use what you find to write a song, rap or rhyme on “Free Speech.”

3. Sleep and Grades

High school and college students often stay up late to cram for big tests or finish papers. But having irregular sleep habits may do more harm than good, according to a new study. The study published this month in the journal Scientific Reports found that college students who did not go to bed or wake up at consistent times every day were more likely to have lower grades. The findings were based on the sleep habits of 61 undergraduate students from Harvard University who kept online diaries of their sleep schedules. It rated sleep regularity on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being ideal. Comparison with students’ grades revealed that for every 10-point rise in the regularity rating, students’ grade point average went up. The lifestyle habits of teens and young adults often can have impact on their behavior or performance in jobs or school. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about habits that can affect teen behavior or performance. Use what you read to write an advice column for teens, offering tips on how not to let habits affect them negatively.

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.

4. 3 Days with the Dead

In the European city of Paris, France, two teenage boys got lost while exploring the city’s famous burial catacombs. And before they were rescued, they had to spend three days in the underground site where skulls of the dead line almost every wall. Sniffing tracker dogs had to be called in to find the boys, who are 16 and 17 years old. The catacombs, which date back to the late 18th century, contain the remains of around six million people in 150 miles of tunnels. The teens got lost while exploring sections that are off limits to tourists. “It was thanks to the dogs that we found them,” said a spokesman for the Paris fire and rescue service. Getting lost in the Paris catacombs sounds like a plot from a horror movie. So can experiences in other creepy places. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a creepy place people found themselves in. Use what you read to write an outline for a horror story based on the situation. Make your story as scary as possible by focusing on the things that would creep you out the most about the place. Share your story with family or friends. Illustrate it if you like.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5.‘Better Angels’

When Microsoft founder Bill Gates speaks, people listen. So when he told this year’s graduates to read the book “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” it’s no surprise it went shooting up best seller lists. The book, written by Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker, supports Gates’ views that people should dream bigger, think more positively and be a force for good. It’s “the most inspiring book I've ever read,” Gates said in a series of messages on Twitter. The phrase “the better angels of our nature” was first used by Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural address as president. Everyone can be a force for good. And you can often do good by doing something you like. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an issue or problem that affects the community. Then think of a skill you have or something you like to do. Brainstorm a way to use your skill or interest to help address the issue. Think creatively and write out a plan for using your skill or interest for good. Share and discuss with friends — and put your plan to work!

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; closely reading written or visual texts to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.