Resources for Teachers and Students
, week of
Oct. 13, 2014
1. Pitchers Dominating Baseball
In Major League Baseball, pitchers have been dominating hitters. Teams this season averaged just 0.86 home runs per game, the lowest rate since 1992, and averaged 4.07 runs per game, the lowest since 1981. Overall batting averages and on-base percentage were the lowest since 1972, and the rate of strikeouts per game was the highest ever. This is part of a downhill trend in offense that began after 2000, when teams averaged 5.14 runs per game, the highest since the 1930s. Some link it to baseball’s crackdown on performance-enhancing drugs after it became known that several major stars had used them. How are the hitters doing in the Major League Playoffs in the National and American Leagues this week? Follow coverage of playoff games in the newspaper and track which hitters are performing well. Use what you find to craft three math word problems based on the performance of three players. (Example: Player X had three hits yesterday. What percentage of his team’s hits did that represent?) Exchange problems with a classmate and solve each other’s problems.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; representing and solving problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
2. Ban Trade in Syrian Relics?
The Middle East nation of Syria is torn by civil war and the fighting is affecting all aspects of life there. And extremist groups like ISIS are turning Syria’s culture and history into a weapon. As a result, more than 80 prominent archaeologists and scholars have asked the United Nations to ban trade in Syrian antiquities, which, they say in an open letter, provides money for extremists. Six U.N. “world heritage” cultural sites exist in Syria, and “our shared world heritage in Syria is being looted and turned into weapons of war,” the archaeologists contend in a letter to the U.N. Security Council. “Ancient sites dating back to the very earliest moments of human civilization are being crudely dug up and sold to foreign collectors.” Protecting historic and cultural artifacts is a problem whenever there is war or unrest in a region. As a class, discuss ways the United States or other nations could work to protect artifacts in Syria. Then write a short editorial for the newspaper outlining ways the U.S. and other nations might address the problem.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Seal Hunt Suggested
New England’s population of gray seals was decimated by hunting in the last century, but thanks to conservation efforts, abundant food and migration from the north, the seals are back in numbers so large that fishermen are complaining. Some residents of Nantucket Island are even suggesting a controlled hunt, similar to those some states use to control deer. Environmentalists disagree, arguing that the resurgence of the seals is good for biodiversity and tourism. Fishermen, however, say the seals interfere with fishing charters and steal catches, while beachgoers bemoan 600-plus-pound seals taking over stretches of seashore, fouling beaches and attracting predators, including sharks. When wildlife grow in number, there is often debate about what people should do. In the newspaper, find a species of wildlife in a photo, story or ad. Imagine that the species has grown steadily in number. Then brainstorm an idea for a public service ad seeking to persuade people to take action (or not) to address the situation. Make a list of points to address in the ad and why.
Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
4. Better Schooling = Better Health
Attending a good school helps disadvantaged teens, and not just academically. A new study suggests it may be good for their health, too. Students attending top public charter schools that select students by lottery display less risky health behavior — such as binge drinking, unsafe sex and use of hard drugs — than peers at poorer-performing schools. The Los Angeles study does not prove that the schools made the difference, because parents who enter lotteries to get their students into good schools are committed to seeing them succeed. And the students themselves are committed to success and may want to avoid bad behaviors. Still, the lead author said the evidence from the UCLA study was strong enough to support the conclusion that “better education will lead to better health.” In every community, parents want their children to get a good education. In the newspaper or online, find a story about a school program that is providing a good experience for students. Read the story closely and write a summary of its key points.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. Election a Family Affair
The November ballot in state of Georgia will be dotted with familiar names. In fact, it will seem like a family affair. The Democratic candidate for governor is the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, who was Georgia’s governor before becoming president. And the race for U.S. Senate features Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, and Republican David Perdue, the cousin of former Governor Sonny Perdue. The Senate race, and Carter’s challenge to incumbent Governor Nathan Deal, are both considered close contests in the latest polls. All over the country there are hotly contested contests for governor, U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives. In the newspaper, find stories about one race that interests you. Read the stories and write a summary of key positions taken by each of the top candidates.
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.
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