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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 13, 2017

1. Antibiotics Linked to Obesity

Antibiotics can help fight illnesses and infections, but overuse can be a danger. New research, for example, suggests that babies prescribed “broad-spectrum” antibiotics in their first two years of life — or four or more courses of antibiotics in that period — are more likely to be obese children later. “Broad-spectrum” antibiotics include widely used drugs such as amoxicillin, tetracycline or ciprofloxacin. These drugs are highly effective fighting major systemic infections, but can contribute to obesity, the researchers found. Findings from the study add to mounting evidence that the mix of bacteria found in the intestinal system is connected to the occurrence of obesity. The number of people who are obese or overweight has become a national concern in America. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how communities, governments or businesses are working to reduce the number of people who are obese or overweight. Use what you read to write a short editorial summarizing several efforts that you think would be effective. Support your arguments with evidence from your reading.

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. ‘Insensitive’ to Vietnamese?

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey is head of a new American-backed university in the southeast Asian nation of Vietnam — and some Vietnamese are not happy about it. One official said the appointment of Kerrey as the first chairman of the board of the new Fulbright University Vietnam was “insensitive …at best.” The reason is that Kerrey has admitted that as a U.S. Navy SEAL, he led a team of commandos who killed women and children during a midnight raid in the Mekong delta in 1969 during the Vietnam War. After falsely reporting the commandos had killed 21 Viet Cong guerrillas in the village of Thanh Phong, Kerrey received a Bronze Star medal. Years later, as an investigation was about to be launched, Kerrey acknowledged, “It was not a military victory. It was a tragedy, and I ordered it.” When people are appointed to high profile positions, their backgrounds get close scrutiny from the media and other organizations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about someone appointed to a prominent position whose background is being examined. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper, analyzing the key issues in the person’s background and whether you think that should disqualify the person for the position.

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. Use Hackers to Stop Hacking?

The best defense against computer hacking might be hackers themselves. That’s the idea behind HackerOne, a start-up tech company in San Francisco, California. HackerOne’s co-founders are hackers and they hope to mediate relations between companies with cybersecurity issues and hackers like them. HackerOne hopes to persuade other hackers to responsibly report security flaws, rather than exploit them, so companies can prevent hacking. Companies would pay a bounty to hackers for such information, plus a commission to HackerOne. Computer and Internet security are increasing in importance as more and more information is stored digitally. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts to improve computer and Internet security. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a TV commercial showcasing one digital security effort. Write an outline for your commercial and then write the opening scene.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. A Comic’s Life & Archives

In a career that spanned more than half a century, George Carlin was a rebellious and groundbreaking stand-up comic. His milestone “Seven Dirty Words” routine pioneered ways to use comedy to take on issues like TV censorship, and his willingness to break the rules inspired younger comics. Throughout his career Carlin saved notes, set lists, scrapbooks, tickets, costumes, even signs from theaters where he was playing — and now people who want to learn more about him will be able to view the materials at the new National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York. Carlin, who died in 2008, also is being honored in New York City, where he gained both notoriety and a following. The New York City Council has named a block of West 121st Street in his memory. The Carlin archives were donated to the National Comedy Center by his daughter. The possessions and private papers of famous people often can reveal a lot about them. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a famous person you like or admire. Use what you read and previous knowledge to write a proposal to collect possessions or papers of this person for future study. List items you would preserve and write a reason for each, explaining what it would tell about the person.

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. Shift Work & Heart Disease

Shift workers whose schedules leave them chronically sleep-deprived are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, a study published in an American Heart Association journal reports. And for people whose jobs require shift work the best ways to reduce risks are to eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise and find ways to get more sleep. “All physiological and behavioral processes … follow a circadian rhythm … regulated by an internal clock located in the brain,” the lead researcher of the study notes. “When our sleep-wake and feeding cycles are not in line with the rhythms dictated by our internal clock, misalignment occurs.” Many jobs can pose health risks for workers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a job that could pose risks for workers. Use what you read and other research to draw a series of comic strips, illustrating the risks and what can be done to reduce them.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.