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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Feb. 12, 2018

1. Rocket Man

Billionaire Elon Musk is a trailblazing businessman whose companies are breaking new ground in both the auto and space industries. His Tesla company is one of the leading developers of electric cars, and his SpaceX company is developing rockets privately in ways never done before. This month, SpaceX reached a new milestone when it successfully launched the world's most powerful rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Falcon Heavy rocket has the power of 18 747 jetliners and continues SpaceX's breakthrough practice of re-using booster engines. It also carried a cargo close to the heart of Musk - his personal Tesla automobile. With the power of the Falcon Heavy, the car will be sent into orbit around the sun on a path that will take it near the planet Mars. Elon Musk is one of the most innovative business leaders in the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about his success - or the success of another innovator. Use what you read to create a power point telling the story of this innovator's success and what made him/her successful. Use images from the newspaper or Internet to illustrate your power point.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.

2. The Slave Trade

During Black History Month each February, schools and communities in the United States re-examine the legacy of slavery and its impact on African Americans. In the African nation of Benin, government and community leaders also are re-examining slavery - from the other end of the slave trade. Located on the west coast of Africa, the region that is now Benin was once a prominent center of slave trading. For more than 200 years, tribal kings captured and sold slaves to Portuguese, French and British merchants, who then transported them to the United States and other nations. The Benin government now plans to build two museums devoted to the slave trade in partnership with America's Smithsonian Institution. But how the museums will portray Benin's role in the history of slave trading is still being debated. "This is still a country divided between the families of the enslaved and the slave traders," said history professor Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yai, a Benin native. During Black History Month, schools and communities re-examine the history of African Americans in the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an observance or program examining an aspect of Black History in the United States. Use what you read to create a one-minute public service TV commercial to teach people about the issues or people examined by the program. Write the text for your commercial and list what images you would show. Read the text aloud, to make sure it does not run longer than one minute.

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

3. Lock Up That Phone!

More and more people now have smart phones - and some just can't put them down. That can be a problem in some situations - schools, courtrooms, concerts or special occasions. So a creative entrepreneur came up with a solution for people addicted to their phones: Lock them up Yondr! Yondr is a company founded by entrepreneur Graham Dugon to keep people away from their phones when they shouldn't be using them. It makes and sells lockable phone pouches that can be distributed at schools, concerts or special events. People put their phones inside the pouches when they arrive at a place or event, and the phones stay locked until they leave. More than 600 U.S schools now use Yondr pouches, as do many entertainers. Comedian Dave Chappelle, for example, requires that people use Yondr pouches at his concerts because he doesn't like audiences using their phones while he performs. Smart phones have many benefits, but they also can cause problems. As a class, discuss the benefits and liabilities of smart phones. Then find and closely read stories about those benefits and liabilities in the newspaper or online. Use what you read to write a consumer column offering advice on how to make the most of the benefits and minimize the problems of smart phones.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

4. Maya Miracles

More than 4,000 years ago, the Maya people developed a highly advanced civilization in southern Mexico and Central America. The Mayans are credited with great achievements in farming, art, architecture, mathematics and astronomy and developed the only known writing system of the ancient Americas. As impressive as all that is, a new discovery indicates the Mayans may have been even more advanced than previously believed. A high tech mapping effort in the nation of Guatemala has revealed that Mayan civilization was much larger and more complex than earlier discoveries indicated. Using laser technology, the airplane-based mapping has determined that thousands of Maya structures lie beneath Guatemala's jungles, including forts, defense works, pyramids, temples and huge planting fields. The findings are causing archaeologists to rethink long-held views about Maya civilization. "It's a game-changer," one said. Technology is now being used to advance knowledge in many different fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one advance. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper explaining the importance of technology in this field.

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.

5. Holocaust Payments

The Nazi Holocaust before and during World War II killed more than 6 million people and tore apart families in every area controlled by Adolf Hitler's Germany. Now, more than 70 years after the end of World War II, Germany has agreed to pay compensation to Jews who suffered persecution in the North African nation of Algeria at the time it was controlled by the Nazis and the French Vichy regime. About 25,000 people are eligible for a one-time payment of $3,184, according to an organization that negotiates with Germany for Holocaust survivors. The agreement is the first time that Jews who lived in Algeria during World War II have been compensated by the German government. Many nations, including the United States, are taking steps to address injustices from the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one effort. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor giving your view on the best way to address the past injustice.

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.