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For Grades 9-12 , week of July 24, 2017

1. Support from Serena

In the United States, about one in four women will likely be affected by domestic violence at some point in their lives. While physical, emotional or sexual abuse are well known in such situations, it is less known that partners use financial abuse to control or terrorize their targets. Tennis star Serena Williams wants to change that, and has joined a nationwide effort to call attention to the problem. “There are so many ways that financial abuse can keep victims trapped,” said Williams, who is the new ambassador for the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse program, which raises awareness and helps victims recover from financial abuse. “While I was familiar with financial abuse, I really didn't realize that it happened in about 99% of domestic violence cases. … That's basically every domestic violence case.” Celebrities often support causes to raise awareness or money for them. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a celebrity supporting a cause or issue. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor analyzing why the celebrity chose to support the cause, and the different ways the celebrity’s support helps it.

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.

2. A Record for ‘Thrones’

“Game of Thrones” is one of the most popular shows on TV, and to prove it the first episode of the new season set a record for viewers. About 16.1 million viewers watched the first show of the seventh season, the most ever to watch a season premiere on the HBO channel. About 10.1 million viewers watched the first run of the episode Sunday, July 16, while the rest watched a pair of replays or streamed the show with the HBO Go or HBO Now apps. The 16.1 million in viewership was up 50% from last year’s season premiere. Popular TV shows draw millions of viewers. With family or friends, discuss TV shows you like. Then think like a TV critic and write a review of one show. Use specific details to support your opinion of why you like its plot, characters or other features.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. Trafficking in China

Human trafficking is one of the world’s great human rights problems. It involves forced labor, forced begging, exploitation and sex trafficking, and it affects women, men and children of both sexes. The U.S. State Department monitors human trafficking around the world, and in a key 2017 report it declares that Asian superpower China is among the worst trafficking offenders. China was downgraded to the lowest rating in the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, joining Russia, Syria and Iran as the most poorly rated nations. The report listed a wide variety of human trafficking in China, including forced labor by workers from North Korea and other nations, forced begging, sex trafficking and exploitation. While China “took some steps to address trafficking,” the report said the country must do more to address the issue. Human rights problems affect people all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about human rights issues or violations. Use what you read to design a poster calling attention to one situation, and what other nations could do about it.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

4. Bug Drug Shortage

In the summer months, insect stings from bees, wasps and hornets can cause major problems for people who are allergic to them. Allergic reactions send thousands of people to the hospital, and in the worst cases can cause severe reactions, or even death. Medical researchers have developed drugs to prevent reactions from insect stings, but this summer some of the drugs are in short supply because of a shortage of honeybee, hornet and wasp venom. Two companies that produce venom extracts for the drugs are not operating after shutting down due to contamination problems. As a result, doctors are being forced to ration supplies of the drugs, which are administered over time to prevent reactions. The shortage of venom extracts is not affecting the supply of portable epinephrine and EpiPens, which quickly counteract symptoms after a bite. Insect stings are a summer health issue that can affect many people. In the newspaper or online, closely read a story about another summer health issue. Use what you read to brainstorm a public service TV ad to educate people about the issue. Write the script for your ad, including images you would use to get people’s attention. Draw a storyboard for your ad.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.

5. Honoring Jane Austen

Jane Austen is considered one of the world’s great writers, and on the 200th anniversary of her death this month she was given national honors by her native England. A new 10-pound note featuring her image was added to England’s paper money collection. The note, which will go into circulation September 14, was designed to honor the “universal appeal” of Austen’s work in such novels as “Pride and Prejudice,” ‘’Emma” and “Sense and Sensibility.” Her novels have been an inspiration to generations of women writers and have been adapted for numerous movies and TV specials. Jane Austen was honored by England for her achievements and influence over her lifetime. What woman from today would you honor for her achievements and influence? Use the newspaper and Internet to read about the achievements of this woman. Then write a proposal to honor this woman in a way you think would be significant and appropriate.

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; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.