Resources for Teachers and Students

For Grades 9-12 , week of Feb. 27, 2017

1. Child Cancer Deaths Declining

Cancer death rates for children and teens in the United States have been declining, and much of the improvement is attributed to improved treatment for leukemia, which once was the most common cause. The decline in cancer and cancer deaths has been by about 20 percent in 15 years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Yet even as death rates decline, the overall incidence of pediatric cancer has increased slightly. Medical researchers attribute this is to environmental factors such as pollution or being around smokers, and improvement in detection techniques. Cancer treatment and research are often in the news because different kinds of cancer affect so many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a new cancer treatment or research. Use what you read to create a multi-media presentation for the class to explain the most important points of the new treatment or research.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Private Prison Shut Down

A privately operated prison in the state of Mississippi has been shut down and its inmates transferred to other state facilities. Referring to Walnut Grove Correctional Facility as “a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world,” a federal judge concluded that it was effectively run by gangs in collusion with corrupt prison guards. Operated by Management and Training Corp., one of the nation’s largest private prison contractors, the 1,260-bed facility had been operating under a federal consent decree for violating prisoners’ constitutional rights. In 2014, it was the scene of two major riots. The criminal justice system is often in the news for the way prisons treat inmates and how successful they are preparing prisoners to return to outside life. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about prisoner treatment or re-training. Use what you read and additional research to write a short editorial or paper evaluating how successful prisons or the criminal justice system have been treating or re-training prisoners.

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.

3. President’s Home Restored

Woodrow Wilson was the 28th president of the United States and led the nation during the challenging years of World War I. Now, the South Carolina home where the future president lived as a teenager is opening to the public as a museum. The restoration of the home in the city of Columbia took more than a decade and was financed by $3.6 million in tax money and private donations. The museum will focus on Wilson’s life and the Reconstruction Era after the American Civil War, which coincided with Wilson’s formative years. Wilson’s father taught at a seminary in Columbia, and was minister of a Presbyterian church there. Wilson served as president from 1913 to 1921. Museums like Woodrow Wilson’s teen home seek to shed light on aspects of a person’s life in new ways. In the newspaper or online, closely read a story about a person who interests you. Imagine you are turning a home where this person lived into a museum. Write a proposal outlining what items you would include, what stories you would tell and why people would be interested.

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.

4. Higher Income, Longer Lives

It may not come as a surprise, but people who have higher income tend to live longer. Researchers report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that those with incomes in the top 1 percent live nearly 15 years longer than those in the bottom 1 percent. The researchers agree that better health care is a major factor, but speculate that lifestyle may play a bigger role as well. “Inequalities in life expectancy … are more likely explained by different behaviors rather than access to life-saving medical care,” they state. The study was based in part on data from Americans’ income tax returns. Many people think they would like to live longer lives. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a senior citizen living a long, productive life. Use what you read and personal experience to write a poem, rap, rhyme or song on the topic “If I Could Live to Be 100.” Share with the class and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Parliament Needs Repairs

Great Britain’s Parliament building is one of the most famous government buildings in the world. But now the complex that houses Britain’s legislative bodies is showing its age. A joint committee of the House of Lords and the House of Commons warns that leaky roofs and pipes, antiquated wiring, crumbling limestone and rats increase vulnerability to a “catastrophic event, such as a major fire.” Extensive repairs are needed and they could take up to six years, starting in 2022. Financing has not been finalized, but plans are in the works for the two legislative houses to vacate the Parliament building while renovations are under way. The Parliament building is an important landmark in the city of London. What buildings are landmarks in your community or state? In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about a building that is famous as a local landmark, or study a photo of it. Use what you read or study to write a paragraph describing why the building is important to the community and how people feel about it.

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.