For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 10, 2011

1. Evidence of Innocence

American exchange student Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were acquitted in Italy last week of killing Knox's roommate Meredith Kercher, a foreign exchange student from England. Knox and Sollecito were found guilty of the 2007 murder and have spent the past four years appealing that verdict. Defense attorneys argued that DNA evidence used to convict the two was inconclusive in establishing that Knox and Sollecito had anything to do with the murder. The Kercher family said that if the two didn't do it, they wanted to know who did. One man, Rudy Guede, was found guilty of the murders. Find a newspaper article that talks about DNA evidence in a crime. Or find an example online. Discuss as a class the validity of DNA in that case and how DNA has changed crime-solving.

Core/National Standard: Initiating and participating effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Scenes From Life

On October 12, 1912, Alice Childress was born in Charlestown, South Carolina. A talented and respected writer in various genres, Childress often addressed the issues and problems that faced urban African Americans. Look in today's newspaper to find issues that affect people in your community. Then, write a scene or a short story that is based in your neighborhood.

Core/National Standard: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task.

3. Hear Her Roar!

In some parts of the world, girls can't go to school. In others, women can't drive, can't vote and can't even show their faces. At Pinckney High in Michigan, senior Brianna Amat broke all the stereotypes about women. She not only plays women's soccer for her school, but she also is the football team's kicker. In addition, she was voted Homecoming Queen in the middle of a close game with rival Grand Blanc High School. That night, her field goal resulted in a win for her team. The 31-yard kick was a record for Amat. She said she had no idea she was being voted Homecoming Queen until she got called out of the team's locker room at halftime. She exchanged her helmet for a tiara until the second half began. Find a newspaper article about a girl or woman doing something unique. Write a summary of the article, including key details.

Core/National Standard: Determining two or more central ideas of a text and analyzing their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis of summary.

4. Immigration Wars

President Obama finds himself between a rock and a hard place when it comes to immigration. He spoke recently about his frustration at wanting to reform immigration law and also having to enforce the laws currently on the books. During an online Hispanic roundtable, Obama said he admired the way former presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush understood the need for comprehensive immigration reform. "Right now, you don't have that kind of leadership coming from the Republican Party," said Obama, who's a Democrat. He would like to see the passage of the "Dream Act," which gives the children of illegal immigrants the opportunity to get citizenship. "The notion that I can somehow just change the laws unilaterally is just not true," he said. Find a newspaper article about immigration. Or find an example online. Write an opinion piece based on the article, giving your view on how the issue should be addressed. Be sure to use strong, well-supported arguments.

Core/National Standard: Writing arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

5. Eating Safely

People who want to eat healthy foods love great fruit. Cold watermelon, juicy strawberries, sweet cherries, luscious peaches and golden cantaloupes all are popular choices. Unfortunately, fresh fruits sometimes carry viruses and bacteria that cause illnesses. This year several people have gotten sick from cantaloupes contaminated with bacteria that cause listeria. The exposure caused illness in 72 people and resulted in 16 deaths. Experts say part of the problem with food contamination is the amount of time that elapses between picking and final delivery to the table. Find a newspaper article about food safety. Or find an example online. Write a paragraph listing things your family can do to prevent food-related illnesses.

Core/National Standard: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to task, purpose and audience.