For Grades 9-12 , week of July 20, 2020

1. No More Redskins

The Washington Redskins are one of the oldest teams in the National Football League, and also one of the most controversial. The name “Redskins” has long been criticized as offensive to Native Americans, even as the team won five championships and three Super Bowls. Now, after years of debate, the team has agreed to “retire” the name and replace it. The move came as the Black Lives Matter movement raised awareness of racist and discriminatory traditions and practices across America. Corporate sponsors joined advocates for racial equality and fair treatment to pressure the team to move on from the name many consider an ethnic slur. Leading the charge was FedEx, which pays the team $8-million a year for naming rights to the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland. Nike and Pepsi also pressured the team, after receiving letters from investors calling on the companies to cut their ties. The team did not announce what the new name would be, but promised to do so within weeks. Change is coming quickly to many institutions as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different examples of change. Use what you read to write an editorial assessing why the changes are important and other changes that should also be considered. Discuss with family or friends.

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. Working for Hugs

Across America, the coronavirus epidemic has separated families from loved ones being treated in hospitals or cared for in nursing homes. With in-person visits banned, family members have not been able to meet face to face, hug one another or even hold hands. In Jacksonville, Florida, a woman separated from her husband found an unusual way to see him at the memory care facility where he was being treated for Alzheimer’s disease. Mary Daniel got a job as a dishwasher at the facility, and after her work shift is over each day she is allowed to visit with her husband Steve. “He saw me and said, ‘Mary',” she told local TV station WJXT. “We hugged and [it was] just like how I thought it would be. Just [to] hold him again … is just an amazing, amazing feeling.” The separation of families from loved ones due to the coronavirus has caused great emotional stress for everyone involved. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people experiencing this situation. Use what you read to write a song expressing the emotions family and their loved ones feel by being separated. Use the tune of a song you like and change the words to explore this experience. Share with your family members.

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

3. No Gender at All

All over the world, the issue of gender identity has sparked wide debate and discussion. In the European nation of the Netherlands, officials have decided to address the issue by eliminating it. In a letter sent to Parliament, the nation’s education and cultural minister has said gender will no longer be listed on government identification cards because it is “unnecessary” information. The change will take effect in 2024/2025, minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said, noting that people should be able to “create their own identity and live in full freedom and security.” The Netherlands will not be the first nation whose ID cards omit gender. The German identification card already does not include it, the minister said. All over the world, communities and institutions are grappling with ways to deal with gender identity issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about communities or institutions doing this. Choose one and write a letter to the editor giving your view on how the issue has been addressed.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

4. Colin & Disney

When NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice, he effectively ended his NFL career. No team would sign him, and he eventually won a settlement after suing the league. Now Kaepernick may have achieved a far greater platform for his views than he could get as a quarterback. He has entered a production deal with Disney and ESPN to produce stories that explore race, social justice and the intersection of sports and culture. The first project will be a documentary series chronicling Kaepernick’s evolution from an NFL quarterback to an activist and spokesman on racial injustice. In announcing the deal, Disney chairman Robert Iger said that in this “unprecedented time … Colin’s experience gives him a unique perspective on the intersection of sports, culture and race,” which will lead to “stories that will educate, enlighten and entertain.” Colin Kaepernick has become a controversial — and influential — figure in sports and society. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about activities he is involved in. Pretend you are going to interview him for the documentary series on his life. Write out five to 10 questions you would ask, and explain why.

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.

5. Floating Movie Night

As the United States and other nations try to reopen after the coronavirus epidemic, safety and social distancing are top concerns. In the city of Paris, France, officials have come up with a way to keep people safe – and still give them a way to have fun. Last weekend the city turned the world famous Seine river into an outdoor movie theater as part of a yearly festival celebrating French culture and attractions. An event called “Cinéma sur l’Eau” — which means “Cinema on Water” in French — gave movie fans a chance to watch films from one of 38 electric boats set up in the river for the occasion. In addition 150 deck chairs were set out on shore to allow even more people a chance to enjoy open-air cinema. As the number of coronavirus cases starts to rise again, communities are looking for ways to let residents have fun in a safe and socially distanced way. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about activities communities are trying. Then think like an event planner and plan activities for your community. Write a proposal for your activities, detailing why they would be fun and how they could be executed safely. Discuss ideas with family and friends.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.