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For Grades 9-12 , week of Apr 10, 2023

1. New NATO Member

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed in 1949 after the end of World War II to provide a check on the power and military ambitions of communist countries led by the Soviet Union (now Russia). For 74 years, the nations of the organization known as NATO have pledged to defend each other against threats or attacks from countries outside the alliance and to work together on shared problems. The original alliance had 12 members from the continents of Europe and North America, including the United States, Canada, Italy, France and the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. NATO has expanded steadily over the years and this month it gained a key ally as its 31st member. The northern European nation of Finland has been accepted as a member, giving NATO a greater presence along Russia’s borders with other nations. Finland has an 830-mile border with Russia, and its addition to NATO more than doubles the land boundary between Russia and NATO nations. Russia had opposed expansion of NATO, but Finland and neighboring Sweden asked to join the alliance after Russia invaded Ukraine. NATO is an example of different nations working together to achieve a common goal. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another effort by nations to work together to achieve a goal. Use what you read to write an editorial or political column detailing how nations working together can be more effective than nations working alone, and how the United States can promote such international cooperation.

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. Breakup Backup

As many teens know, romantic relationships can be tough when they come to an end. In the words of an old song, “breaking up is hard to do,” and it can bring emotional pain, heartache and even depression. In the Southern Pacific nation of New Zealand, a new campaign sponsored by the government is trying to help teens navigate the challenges of breakups with $4-million in services ranging from hotlines to counseling. The Love Better campaign will feature teens helping teens by establishing a community of “the freshly broken up helping the freshly broken up.” The program – which uses the tagline “own the feels” – includes a dedicated phone, text and email helpline and other services for young people going through a breakup, CNN News reports. It also hopes to use social media to help teens work through the emotions of breakups and move forward with a “thank u, next” philosophy for dealing with ex-partners. The program was developed after a survey of New Zealand teens found that “breakups were identified as a common challenge,” and “they need support to deal with early experiences of love and hurt.” The emotional wellbeing of teenagers is getting more and more attention from parents, schools, communities and governments. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts to help teens deal with emotional or mental health issues. Use what you read to design the home page of an informational website offering such assistance to teens. Pick four topics to highlight and write headlines and copy blocks to explain them. Choose images from the newspaper or Internet to go with each copy block.

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

3. A Very Special Wheelchair

Wheelchair sports are growing in popularity and expanding opportunities for athletes in tennis, basketball and other sports. Among the reasons for this growth are advances in the technology, design and construction of wheelchairs. Wheelchairs are now specially designed for each sport athletes play. Basketball wheelchairs, for example, feature large slanted-in wheels to improve balance and turning ability and smaller wheels that improve stability. Frames are lightweight and durable, and seats are designed to provide both comfort and support. In the San Francisco area of California this month, a 16-year-old wheelchair athlete got a new basketball chair that will allow him to up his game in competition. And he got an experience of a lifetime. Before a game between the Golden State Warriors and the Milwaukee Bucks, athlete Braulio Noriega got a new basketball chair from none other than Warriors superstar Klay Thompson. Thompson and his Thompson Family Foundation teamed up with the Challenged Athletes Foundation to buy Noriega a fully customized, state of the art basketball chair. "This is such an amazing moment," said Noriega, who lost half of his left leg to cancer when he was 6 years old. “There’s just like so much emotion right now, I don't even know what to say." The next day he let his skills do the talking, competing in his new chair at the Warriors Basketball Academy. Wheelchair sports are growing in popularity. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one wheelchair sport. Use what you read and personal knowledge, to write a sports column comparing the challenges faced by a wheelchair athlete in this sport with those of a non-wheelchair athlete in the sport.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Mussels Fight Pollution

Water pollution is a problem that affects many communities in the United States and around the world. To help clean local waters, some of those communities are turning to natural solutions. Some are protecting wetlands, whose plants filter pollutants from water. Others are creating shellfish beds for oysters, which remove pollution with their gills. In the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, high school students are growing freshwater mussels in an effort to clean a local river. Like oysters, mussels remove pollution from waterways with their gills, and there is a lot of pollution in Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River. Students at Lankenau High School wanted to do something about it, so they signed up to work with the city’s Water Department to find out how mussels could help. Lankenau is an environmental science high school and 150 students are putting their knowledge to work in the mussel project, the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper reported. They are growing two species of mussels and determining the best temperature and conditions to grow them. Eventually they plan to release their mussels in the Schuylkill, which runs right through the middle of the city. “The freshwater mussel is not sexy, but it’s so important,” said a Water Department scientist. Students often work together on projects to clean or improve the environment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an environmental project that students are working on. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing what the students are doing and how their effort is helping the environment, wildlife and the community as a whole.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Math and Statistics

From the stock market to food prices to the cost of college, math and statistics play an important role in our everyday lives. So important that the entire month of April now is celebrated as Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month. During this month-long celebration, schools, communities, businesses and government showcase the many ways the two subjects help people. Both subjects, for example, address real-world problems ranging from Internet security to climate change. They help researchers make advances in fields such as medicine, manufacturing, energy and technology. And they provide interest and enjoyment in the sports and entertainment worlds. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ways math and statistics help people live and succeed in their lives, businesses and careers. Use what you read to develop a short lesson to teach younger students about the importance of math and statistics to our lives. Write an outline for your lesson and what it will contain.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific visual or textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.