, week of
Jan. 08, 2018
1. Time’s Up for Harassment
Sexual harassment has become major news in the last year in entertainment, politics, business, sports, the arts and other fields. Now a group of 300 prominent women in the entertainment industry have joined together to combat sexual harassment not only in entertainment but in other fields as well. The group — which includes stars such as Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence, Shonda Rhimes, Emma Stone and Natalie Portman — has launched an initiative called Time’s Up to end harassment, physical and verbal intimidation, discrimination, assault and rape. The group has established a legal support fund to represent women in sexual harassment cases and raised nearly $14 million in a matter of days. Sexual harassment is getting more attention than ever in the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how people are responding to increased discussion of the issue. Write a short editorial outlining positive steps that could be taken by communities, businesses, institutions and individuals to address the problem.
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. Angry at Apple
Apple makes lots of updates to its electronic products, and consumers have long wondered if some are designed to get people to buy newer models. A recent update to iPhones — and an apology from Apple — appears to confirm those suspicions. Apple angered customers when a software update for iPhones deliberately slowed down older phones to extend battery life. A number of people who felt it was unfair to slow down existing products filed lawsuits over the feature and threatened broader legal action. In response, Apple apologized for the slowdown and said it would drop the price of replacement batteries from $79 to $29. It said installing a new battery would correct the slowdown. Digital products from Apple and other companies are now so widely used they are considered essential by many consumers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read about a digital product you or your family use. Write a short consumer column assessing how important this product is to you or your family, what future changes you would like to see and which you would not want.
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.
3. Help for the Elk
Every day all over the world, people do things to help wild animals in big and little ways. In the state Wyoming, it took a big effort to solve a big problem — a herd of elk that had fallen through the ice at a water reservoir. More than two dozen people teamed up to save 13 elk that had plunged into the frigid water. With chainsaws, crowbars, tow straps, ropes and other equipment they worked to cut a path through the ice for the animals and to pull out ones that were too weak from the cold water, including two young calves. “It was totally impressive to watch,” said an officer of the state Game and Fish Department. “There’s no way the Department alone could have made this work with the number of elk that were in the ice.” People often do extraordinary things to help animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person or group doing something special for animals. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short animated film detailing what the people did and why it was important. Write an outline for your film, and give it a title that would make people want to see it. Draw sketches of what the animals and people would look like.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
4. Mass Drug Dismissals
Misconduct in state drug-testing labs in Massachusetts will likely lead to the dismissal of 8,000 drug convictions in 2018 — on top of more than 21,000 convictions dismissed due to scandals in 2017. The dismissals are the result of misconduct by two lab chemists over a period of eight years. Last year’s dismissals were ordered by the state Supreme Court after chemist Annie Dookhan admitted contaminating, falsifying or not testing drugs in her lab. This year’s dismissals are the result of misconduct by lab chemist Sonja Farak, who was found to have been stealing and using drugs seized by police. Massachusetts courts ruled that it was more efficient to dismiss most cases involving the chemists than to re-try them one by one. Misconduct by public officials or employees can have wide-ranging impact in communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such misconduct. Use what you read to draw an editorial cartoon or series of cartoons offering your views on the impact this misconduct has had or will have. If necessary, view editorial cartoons in the newspaper or online to see how they use art to express opinions.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
5. Huge Donation
Austin McChord wasn’t a great student when he was in college at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York State. In fact, he dropped out a few credits shy of graduation to start a data protection company he called Datto. He eventually went back to get his degree and in 2013 promised to give back to the school if his company became successful and he sold it for a large profit. Datto became successful beyond his wildest dreams, and last month McChord sold it for $1.5 billion. And he made good on his promise to RIT. He gave $50 million to the school, the largest donation in its history. About $30 million of the donation will go toward training students to be entrepreneurs like McChord. Very wealthy people often make large donations to schools, organizations or causes they support. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an institution or cause you feel could use such support. Use what you read to write a proposal seeking a donation from a very wealthy person. Detail what money from the donation would be used for, why that is important and what effect it could have.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
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