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For Grades 9-12 , week of May 02, 2022

1. Twitter Takeover

Elon Musk is the richest man in the world, with a net worth of more than $235-billion. He owns the Tesla electric car company and the SpaceX aerospace company, and now he is acquiring one of the most influential communications companies in the world. The 50-year-old Musk has agreed to buy the Twitter social media company for $44-billion in one of the most significant communications deals in history. Twitter has more than 217-million daily users, including leaders in politics, business and entertainment. Since its founding in 2006, it has become one of the world’s most powerful institutions shaping public opinion. Musk has repeatedly said he wants to “transform” the Twitter platform by promoting more free speech and giving users more control over what they see and post on it. Twitter has caused controversy by banning prominent individuals for violating the platform’s rules by promoting violence, false information or conspiracy theories. Elon Musk has made news by saying he wants to promote greater freedom of speech on Twitter. But as owner, he will have to make judgments about whether people are using free speech to promote false or dangerous information. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories and commentaries about the free speech challenges Musk will face as owner of Twitter. Use what you read to write an editorial offering guidelines he could use when addressing free speech challenges.

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. Legacy of Slavery

As the oldest university in the nation, Harvard has long been a leader in higher education. It has educated presidents, Supreme Court justices, business leaders and countless legislators in Washington DC and around the country. It also enslaved people and grew very wealthy through the support of businesses and individuals who profited from slave labor. That is the stark conclusion of a report just issued by the university along with a pledge to spend $100-million to make amends and redress its ties to slavery. With that money, Harvard will create an endowed “Legacy of Slavery Fund,” which will continue research on Harvard’s connections to slavery and reach out to descendants of the nearly 80 Black and Native Americans identified as having worked for Harvard leaders as slaves, the New York Times reported. Other initiatives being recommended are honoring enslaved people through memorials, research and curriculum; forging partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities and tribal colleges; and exchanging students and faculty with those Black colleges. “Harvard benefited from and in some ways perpetuated practices that were profoundly immoral,” Lawrence S. Bacow, Harvard’s president, said in an email to the university community. “Consequently, I believe we bear a moral responsibility to do what we can to address the persistent corrosive effects of those historical practices.” Many institutions are re-examining their ties to slavery in the past and taking steps to right past wrongs. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one institution that is doing this. Use what you read to write a personal or political column on the steps that are being taken and whether they are adequate or appropriate.

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.

3. The F-Word

“Sesame Street” has been one of the great teaching shows for young children since it since it first appeared on the PBS public television network nearly 53 years ago. So it came as quite a surprise this spring when an episode was widely promoted in different media as having a guest who was going to explore the “F-word.” On top of that, the guest was Emmy-Award winning actor Brett Goldstein, who plays a funny but foul-mouthed soccer player on the TV comedy “Ted Lasso.” But not to worry, Goldstein never came near the F-word he uses so frequently as his TV character — even though he said he “love[s] the letter F” when introducing the Word of the Day. “Today’s word is … fairness!” “Sesame” puppet Temir says, after a double drum roll to build suspense. “Fairness is when each of us gets what we need,” Goldstein replies. People who promote movies or TV shows often employ unusual, funny or provocative approaches to get people’s attention. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a movie or TV show you like. Then think like a promoter and write a provocative paragraph to get people interested in the movie or show. Give your paragraph an eye-catching headline.

Common Core State Standards: Applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. An Electric Corvette

From the time it was introduced almost 70 years ago, the Chevrolet Corvette has been one of the nation’s most stylish — and desirable — “muscle cars.” Powered by big, gasoline V8 engines, Corvettes could achieve great speeds, rapid acceleration and sports car maneuverability in a flashy package that appealed to drivers looking for “something extra” in a car. Now change is coming to Chevrolet’s famous Corvette. Automaker General Motors has announced it will produce a fully electric version of the Corvette, possibly as early as next year, CNN News reports. GM President Mark Reuss announced the plans in a post to the LinkedIn social media site, but didn’t say whether the all-electric version will be a variation of the current gas-powered Corvette or a completely different model. Companies often make changes to familiar products. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a company that is doing this. Use what read to create a series of three print or Internet ads introducing the change. Give your ads eye catching headlines that will make people want to read them.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Paddling to Work

All over the world, people are turning to alternative energy to save money and reduce pollution of the environment. In the European nation of England, a businessman has found an unusual way to do it — on his paddle-board. Alex Kell, a financial planner from the city of Gloucester, first got into paddle-boarding as a way to have fun and keep physically fit. About two years ago he moved to a new apartment in Gloucester and realized he could use his paddle-board to get to work as well. When weather permits, he gets out his stand-up paddle-board at home and paddles a mile up the Gloucester-Sharpness Canal to his company office, the NDTV network reports. Then he reverses the process at the end of the day. By not using his Ford Ranger for commuting, he not only reduces pollution in the air but saves money as well. He estimates that paddling to work has saved him 2,500 English pounds a year in gas and parking costs — about $3,100 in U.S. dollars. It also has given him peace of mind. “Commuting to work on a paddle-board is pretty peaceful,” he told Euro News. People often make news by using unusual forms of transportation. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story or photo of someone doing this. Use what you read to draw an editorial cartoon showing someone taking this approach and how they benefit from it. Editorial cartoons use art to express opinions. If necessary, look up how they are used in the newspaper or online.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.