, week of
Jan. 27, 2020
1. Super Bowl
Next Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday and football fans all over the nation are gearing up to see whether the Kansas City Chiefs or the San Francisco 49ers will win the National Football League championship. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest sporting events in the world. It also is a huge event in the world of television advertising. Thirty-second ads for this year’s game will cost up to $5.6-million each, and advertisers will roll out their most creative and memorable ads to make an impression on viewers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ads that companies are planning for this year’s Super Bowl. Think like a TV critic and write an assessment of which ads you think will cause the most buzz or conversation. For fun, brainstorm an idea for a Super Bowl ad that you think would be effective for a product you use.
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. Income Gap Growing
Income inequality a problem around the world, and the Oxfam International organization feels it’s time world leaders did something about it. In a report presented at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last week, Oxfam outlined how wide the gap between the rich and poor has become. Among the group’s findings: The richest one percent of people in the world have more than twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people. The world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people. And on the continent of Africa, the 22 richest men have more wealth than all the women on the continent — a total of 326 million women. Income inequality is “out of control,” Oxfam declared, because of government policies that allow billionaires to amass huge fortunes. In the United States, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that income inequality has hit its highest level since the bureau started tracking it 50 years ago. Americans in the top 1% for income average more than 40 times more income than the bottom 90%. In the United States and other developed countries, the effects of income inequality are being examined more and more. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about these effects. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper examining these effects, how they have negative impact on nations or communities and how they could be addressed. Share ideas with the class and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
3. What About Apu?
For 30 years, “The Simpsons” has been one of the most popular comedy shows on television. And right from the start, the character Apu has been part of the humor as the owner of Springfield’s Kwik-E-Mart store. Three years ago, however, the Indian/South Asian character drew criticism as an outdated stereotype of Indian Americans — and for the fact the character was “voiced” by a non-Indian actor. Now that actor, Hank Azaria, says he will no longer voice Apu, calling into question the future of the character. “I won't be doing the voice any more, unless there's some way to transition it or something,” Azaria said in an interview with an industry blog called Film. “What they’re going to do with the character is their call.” In addition to Apu, Azaria provides the voices of Moe the Bartender, Chief Wiggum and other characters for “The Simpsons.” All over America, communities are re-examining attitudes and actions that once seemed acceptable and now appear insensitive or biased to some people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about communities taking a new look at attitudes, art, statues, buildings or other honors in light of changing public opinion. Use what you read to write an editorial or opinion column about one case and what you think should be done, if anything. Share views as a class and discuss. Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
4. Climate Clash
Seventeen-year-old Greta Thunberg of the European nation of Sweden has won worldwide attention for calling out leaders for not doing more about climate change. At an elite gathering government and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland last week, she rebuked them for policies that have created “climate chaos” and challenged them to think of their children when addressing the issue. “Our house is still on fire,” she said. “Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. … I wonder, what will you tell your children.” The impact of global warming drew great attention at this year’s Davos gathering, from increasing temperatures to rising seas to deadly wildfires. Thunberg said ideas being discussed would do too little to address the urgency of the problem. President Trump offered a different message when he spoke at the forum. On the subject of climate change, he said “we must reject the perennial prophets of doom. … They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.” One proposal to address climate change calls for nations to plant a trillion trees around the world to absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about this proposal and others. Use what you read to prepare an oral report detailing how the proposal would work and what it would achieve.
Common Core State Standards: Citing textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
5. Funny Safety
When you’re driving in a car, what kind of highway signs get your attention? In the state of Georgia, highway officials thought their signs were kind of boring, so they ran a contest for the public to come up with new signs. The winners promote safety in a fresh, funny way. “Drive like your momma is watchin’,” reads one, according to CNN News. “The party should be lit, not you,” says another. And “wearing a seat belt makes you look thinner,” notes a third. Top messages already are being displayed on highway boards throughout the state. Georgia’s highway sign contest is an example of an effort to use humor to get people’s attention on safety issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about safety issues that are important to communities. Follow the example of Georgia and write three humorous slogans to get people’s attention on three different issues. Share ideas as a class and discuss why you think they would be effective. Common Core State Standards: Applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
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