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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 15, 2018

1. President Oprah?

At this year’s Golden Globes Awards ceremony, superstar Oprah Winfrey was honored for a lifetime of achievement in entertainment and business. But her acceptance speech made people more interested in what she might do in the future than what she has done in the past. By declaring “a new day is on the horizon,” calling out injustice and supporting women in their fight against harassment, Winfrey had many thinking she sounded more like a political candidate than an entertainment star. Almost immediately commentators and others speculated if she were considering a run for president, and close friends told news outlets the next day that she was “actively thinking” about it. Democrats already are looking for a candidate to oppose President Trump in the 2020 presidential election. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories and commentary about possible Democratic challengers. Use what you read to write an analysis of what kind of candidate would make the best opponent — and why.

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. China Surveillance

From business security to cell phones, facial recognition technology is changing the way people work and live. Now the Asian nation of China is taking facial recognition to another level. An ambitious government plan known as “Sharp Eyes” seeks to connect facial recognition and video data from security cameras at airports, banks and other sites to create a nationwide surveillance program. Officials say the program would enable authorities to monitor crime and suspicious behavior, but facial recognition experts say it will also allow the government to more easily follow the activities and movements of the country’s 1.4 billion people. This could make life difficult for political activists or individuals who engage in activities the government does not approve of. As a communist nation, China limits and more closely controls activities of its people than democracies like the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different ways China controls its people. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper detailing the most significant controls China exerts over citizens, and why they are important to the government.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

3. No American Flag?

In many housing developments, Home Owners Associations (HOAs) set rules for what individual homes can look like and what activities are allowed. In Rosenberg, Texas, an HOA has caused controversy by telling a military veteran who served in the Marine Corps that he couldn’t fly the American flag and the Marine flag at his home. Corporal Michael Pereira said he installed flagpoles to fly the flags to “show respect for all the people I went to war with” during three tours of duty in the Iraq conflict in the Middle East. “It's going to be a fight to take them down, and no one fights harder than a veteran combat Marine,” said Pereira, who served in the Marines from 2002 to 2009. A spokesperson for the Home Owners Association said later that the issue was not the flags but the construction and placement of the flagpoles. The HOA said it would work with Pereira to relocate one of the poles. HOA rules sometimes cause controversy in housing developments, even though residents agree to them when they move in. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the rules HOAs have imposed. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor outlining what rules you would be willing to accept, and which you think go too far.

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.

4. Reefs in Trouble

Coral reefs are among the most colorful formations in the world’s oceans, but more and more of them are losing their color due to a process called “bleaching.” And bleaching is occurring more and more frequently due to global warming, scientists have concluded. Corals are hard-shelled living creatures that rely on algae for their health and color. The algae disappear when the water gets too hot, leaving corals without nutrients they need to be healthy. A new study of major coral reefs around the world has found that reefs are bleaching four to five times as often as they did in 1980 due to warmer temperatures of ocean water. The study found that at the beginning of the 1980s reefs bleached severely once every 25 or 30 years on average. By 2016 the gap between severe bleachings had dropped to just 5.9 years. Global warming and climate change are affecting wildlife and habitats around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effect. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a series of comic strips explaining and illustrating the effect.

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. More Store Closings

Internet shopping has taken a huge toll on so-called “brick and mortar” stores in shopping centers. With the ease of online shopping and home delivery, fewer and fewer people are supporting big mall stores like Sears and Kmart. Now those two store chains have announced they will shut down more than 100 stores in the coming months. Sears will close 39 locations and Kmart 64 between now and May, company officials announced. With the ease of Internet shopping, stores in malls and communities have to be creative to attract shoppers. Often they try special events or promotions in addition to sale events. In the newspaper or online, find and study an ad for a store selling products that you use or like. Use the ad, prior knowledge and other resources to come up with a special promotion or event you think would get people to come to the store. Present your idea to the class, why you think it would be successful and challenges you would face to make it a success. As a class, discuss different ideas and which you think would be the most effective.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.