Resources for Teachers and Students


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for Grades 9-12

Dec. 11, 2017
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For Grades 9-12 , week of Aug. 28, 2017

1. No Facebook Hate

Facebook is a great way to communicate with others, but easy communication also has a downside. Facebook has been used to spread hate speech and support of violence by white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other groups. That is about to change following the violent neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has spoken out against hate groups and pledged to remove violent threats and any posts celebrating hate crimes from his network. “It’s a disgrace that we still need to say that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are wrong,” Zuckerberg said. “As if this is somehow not obvious.” Communities across America are standing up to oppose hate speech and groups that promote it. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about what some communities are doing. Use what you read to write an editorial or personal opinion column outlining what you think are the most effective ways to oppose hate speech. Discuss ideas as a class.

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.

2. Malala at Oxford

What does a 20-year-old woman do if she’s already won the Nobel Peace Prize? If you’re Malala Yousafzai, you earn acceptance at world-famous Oxford University to study philosophy, politics and economics. Yousafzai won the Peace Prize at age 17 for her work promoting education for girls and women in her native Pakistan. She had been almost killed for her efforts when she was shot in the head by the extremist Taliban group that opposed education for girls. Her life was saved when she was flown to England for medical care and her family later moved there permanently. Malala Yousafzai has inspired people around the world for her courage and her work promoting equality for women and girls. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person who inspires others. Imagine you are going to interview this person. Write out five questions you would like to ask about the things he/she does to inspire others, challenges that had to be overcome and words of advice he/she would give others who would like to be inspiring leaders.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; closely reading written or visual texts to make logical inferences from it.

3. Unusual Protest

Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore is no fan of President Trump, so it was no surprise that he wanted to protest the president when Trump visited New York City. The WAY Moore protested is what’s unusual. Appearing on Broadway in a one-man show called “The Terms of My Surrender,” Moore rented a bus and invited the audience to ride with him to Trump Tower to protest. Actor/activists Mark Ruffalo and Olivia Wilde joined Moore for the 12-block trip to Trump Tower. From the top of the open top bus, Ruffalo used a megaphone urging people to join them at Trump Tower, where the President lives. The right to protest and speak out is guaranteed to Americans in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Freedom of speech is not just about speaking, however. It can be expressed in art, movies, television, Tweets, blogs and Internet commentary. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people exercising freedom of speech in different ways. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper, analyzing the effectiveness and creativity of different approaches.

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.

4. ‘Gumball’ Tattoos

Tattoos are growing more and more popular with teens and young adults. But how do you decide what to get? In Dallas, Texas, a local tattoo shop has come up with a solution. Elm Street Tattoos has set up a vending machine that makes the decision for people who can’t decide. For $100, you get one play and a random tattoo spits out of the machine like a gumball. “You spin the wheel, roll the dice, and you get the design that comes out,” explains tattoo artist Philip LaRocca. Do people like the choices? “We've drawn up a bunch of classic imagery,” LaRocca says. “For the most part, people are pretty game to get whatever comes out.” Tattoos have become increasingly popular and many are very creative. In the newspaper or online, find and collect images of creative tattoos. Then think like an art critic, and write a review of your collection, as if it were an art show. Analyze what makes the best tattoos beautiful or effective, and give supporting evidence.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

5. Student Leaders Jailed

The Asian nation of China is a communist country that strongly controls what its citizens say and do. It is particularly hard on protesters, as three student activists in the city of Hong Kong found out this summer. The students were each sentenced to six to eight months in prison for their roles in 2014 protests supporting the city’s democracy movement. For many years Hong Kong was controlled by the European nation of Great Britain, but it was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Since then the city’s democracy movement has been fighting to protect and preserve democratic rights and freedoms. Now, however, “for anyone thinking of protesting, the prospect of a harsh jail sentence will loom over them,” said one human rights leader. People in other nations often do not have the rights and freedoms people have in the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people in another country experiencing such lack of freedom. Write a summary detailing what rights are at issue, what people are doing to obtain or protect them, and how the situation is different from that in the United States.

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.