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for Grades 9-12

June 18, 2018
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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 29, 2018

1. Apple Backs Malala

Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize at age 17 for her work promoting education for girls and women in her native Pakistan. Now her efforts have gotten a huge boost from the Apple computer company. Apple has announced it will provide funding to pay for the secondary education of more than 100,000 girls in Latin America and the Asian nation of India through the Malala Fund set up by Yousafzai. Apple did not say how much money it will provide, but the donation will allow the Malala Fund to double the number of high school age girls it serves. Malala Yousafzai won worldwide attention at age 15 when she was shot in the head and almost killed by the extremist Taliban group that opposed education for girls in Pakistan. In many countries, girls do not have access to education the way they do in the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about challenges girls face to get an education in some countries. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining ways people in the United States or other parts of the world could help girls get an education in one nation where they face challenges.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

2. The Eco-Pope

As head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has earned admiration around the world for speaking out on difficult issues. He is especially passionate about protection of the environment and the obligation of Christians to address global warming, over-development and the exploitation of poor countries by rich ones. On a visit to South America this month, the Pope again called attention to environmental issues, telling an audience in Peru that “defense of the Earth has no other purpose than the defense of life.” Speaking in a jungle region of the Amazon rain forest, the Pope declared that “Limits have to be set that can help preserve us from all plans for a massive destruction of the habitat that makes us who we are.” Protecting the environment is a concern for nations all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an effort to protect the environment, wildlife or habitats somewhere in the world. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, detailing how the environment is threatened, what is being done to address the problem and what else could be done.

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. Phones & Happiness

More and more teenagers now have smart phones, and the amount they use them may be affecting how happy they are, according to new research. Since 2012, the percentage of U.S. teens who have smart phones jumped from 37 percent to 89 percent at the end of 2016. And teens may be unhappier as a result. A new study based on data collected in a yearly survey of adolescents by the University of Michigan has found there is a correlation between how happy teens feel and how much time they spend online, texting or using social media. Researchers said the survey showed that the psychological well-being of adolescents decreased the more hours a week they spent on smart phones and other screens. On the plus side, researchers found that teenagers who get between one and 5 hours of screen time a week are happier than those who get none. Those who used screens for 20 or more hours a week were the unhappiest, researchers said. Smart phones have made it easier than ever for teens to communicate with each other and other people. As a class, discuss the benefits of smart phones and all the ways they can be used. Then discuss drawbacks of using, or overusing, smart phones. Use points from the discussion to write a technology column for the newspaper, offering guidelines for healthy and effective use of smart phones.

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. Super Payday

This year’s Super Bowl takes place February 4 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and no one will be rooting more for the New England Patriots than San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. If the Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles, Garoppolo will earn a bonus of $112,000 from them — even though he’s no longer part of the team. That’s because Garoppolo was on the Patriots’ roster for more than half the regular season before being traded to the 49ers on October 30. According to NFL rules, if a player is on a team for more than half the regular season, he is entitled to the same playoff bonuses paid to other players still competing for New England. Garoppolo has already earned $79,000 in bonus money, thanks to New England's two previous playoff wins. The Super Bowl is one of the most highly anticipated sports events of the year, and sportswriters cover it from every angle. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about this year’s Super Bowl that explore unusual angles or story lines. Use what you read to write a humorous poem, rap or rhyme about oddball angles to this year’s game. Share with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

5. Working Mom

It’s not unusual for women to work while they are pregnant. It is unusual, however, when a working mom-to-be is the national leader of her country. Yet that’s the case in the Pacific nation of New Zealand. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced she is pregnant with her first child, and will become a mother in June. “I am not the first woman to multi-task,” Ardern said in a news conference announcing her pregnancy. “I am not the first woman to work and have a baby. We are going to make this work, and New Zealand is going to help us raise our first child.” At age 37, Ardern is the youngest prime minister in New Zealand in more than a century. Mothers who work face many challenges, both at home and in the workplace. As a class, discuss challenges faced by working mothers you know. Then find and closely read stories about working mothers in the newspaper or online. Use what you read to write a personal column or editorial paying tribute to a working mother for successfully balancing work and family.

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.