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For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 06, 2023

1. GoFundMe Magic

GoFundMe campaigns have become a phenomenon on social media for their ability to quickly raise money for events, causes and people in need. GoFundMe efforts have raised millions for big causes like feeding the hungry, supporting victims of war and helping families of students killed in school shootings. They have also given everyday people a way to help their neighbors. That was the case in Little Rock, Arkansas, recently when an 8-year-old second grader discovered his favorite restaurant waiter had fallen on hard times. Kayzen Hunter and his mom eat at the local Waffle House every weekend, and for a year they had been asking to sit in Devonte Gardner’s section because he and Kayzen had hit it off, the Washington Post newspaper reported. When Kayzen learned his favorite waiter had been walking to work because he could not afford a car, he pressed his mom to set up a GoFundMe. The goal was to raise $5,000, but when a local TV station publicized the effort it took off. Donations quickly topped more than $30,000 — six times the original goal. That not only allowed Gardner to get a car but allowed him to move his wife and two daughters out of the motel where they were staying and into an apartment. “I started crying,” the 29-year-old Gardner said. “I’m really touched deeply by it all. And as far as my little buddy goes, he’s my best friend for life.” GoFundMe efforts are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an effort that has been especially successful or timely. Use what you read to write an editorial detailing how GoFundMe efforts not only provide valuable assistance but strengthen the bonds of community as well.

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. Civil Rights Hero

From Thurgood Marshall to Fred Gray to Constance Baker Motley, lawyers have played a crucial role in African Americans’ struggle for civil rights and equal rights. One of the most prominent today is Benjamin Crump, who has represented the families of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Jacob Blake and George Floyd and continues to take on cases involving police brutality. This month, Crump was honored for his ongoing commitment to civil rights with the Social Justice Impact Award given out by the NAACP civil rights organization. “I accept this award as greater motivation to continue to be an unapologetic defender of Black life, Black liberty and Black humanity,” he said when accepting the award at the NAACP’s yearly Image Awards ceremony. The Image Awards recognize achievement in the arts, entertainment and culture by people of color. Top winners this year included the TV show “Abbott Elementary” (four awards) and the movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (three awards, plus the Entertainer of the Year award for star Angela Bassett). Other winners included Will Smith, Viola Davis and Cedric the Entertainer. The NAACP Image Awards honor the contributions of African Americans in the arts and other aspects of American life. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an African American newsmaker you feel could be honored for his or her contributions. Use what you read to write an Awards Proclamation detailing why this person should be honored. Share ideas as a class and discuss.

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.

3. Storytelling Women

March is Women’s History Month, and this year creative women are getting special attention. The theme for the month is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” and that is giving schools, students and communities an opportunity to look at all the ways women tell stories. Some women write powerful books in the fashion of Maya Angelou (“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”), Sandra Cisneros “The House on Mango Street”), Angi Thomas (“The Hate U Give”), Yaa Gyasi (“Homegoing”) or N.K. Jemisin (“How Long ‘til Black Future Month”). Others are songwriters or poets, such as pop stars Adele, Beyonce or Taylor Swift or the 24-year-old poet Amanda Gorman, who wowed the nation with her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration. Still others are filmmakers, such as Ava DuVernay (“Selma” and “A Wrinkle in Time”), Patricia Cardoso ("Real Women Have Curves"), Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”) or Patty Jenkins (“Wonder Woman”). As a class, discuss books by women you have read and enjoyed. Then use the newspaper and Internet to read stories about new Young Adult books coming out for teens and pre-teens. Use what you read, and points from your discussion, to pick a book by a woman you think would make a good movie. Write a “pitch letter” to a movie studio telling why you think this book would make a good movie and why people would want to see it. Suggest stars for your movie idea, if you like.

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

4. Really Good Sports

From shaking hands to playing by the rules, good sportsmanship comes in many forms. It rarely is an act so unusual that it leads to a loss by your own team. Yet that is what happened in a spring softball game involving Grand View University and Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida recently. Grand View was trailing Southeastern 4-1 when catcher Kaitlyn Moses came to bat and hit a grand slam home run to give her team an apparent 5-4 lead. But Moses collapsed with an injury as she rounded first base and couldn’t go forward, KCCI TV reported. Under softball rules, a home run doesn’t count unless a player touches all the bases without assistance from teammates. Knowing that, Southeastern players stepped in, carrying Moses around the bases so she could touch every one and score. Their sportsmanship allowed Grand View to take the lead, and eventually win the game. Good sportsmanship often makes news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about athletes or others practicing good sportsmanship. Use what you read to write a personal or sports column on the importance of “Being a Good Sport.” Be sure to include how good sportsmanship can help people all through life.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. ‘Everyday Math’

From elementary school on, students hear a lot about “everyday math” and how it is used in their daily lives. In the city of Oakland, California a retired math teacher uses quilt-making to show geometry students how math works in the real world. As Wendy Lichtman helps students make original quilts, she points out all the 90-degree angles, parallel lines, and even transversals (a line that intersects with two or more other lines). The teens in her program learn to master geometry by following the steps she outlines for “How to Make a Geometric Quilt.” They also get to hear Lichtman’s favorite story about everyday math that she learned when she was young. She was in a hat-making class being taught by a very old Black woman who had only gone to school through fifth grade in the racially segregated South, the OpenCulture.com website reported. “She explained to the hat-making class that to figure out the length of the hat’s brim, you needed to measure from the center to the edge with a string and then do ‘three of those and a little bit more,’” Lichtman said. She remembered being “in awe” when she heard that, “because three radii and a little bit more is the definition of Pi, and this hat-maker had … discovered for herself the formula for circumference.” Math plays a role in many aspects of life. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories in which math plays a part. Use what you find to create five math word problems for classmates to solve. Try to make at least one of the problems involve geometry or algebra. Do the problems to make sure you know the correct answers and exchange with classmates.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; representing and solving problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.