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Lessons for

Grades 1-4
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for Grades 9-12

Dec. 11, 2017
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For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 20, 2017

1. Russia, Russia & More Russia

Since becoming president in January, Donald Trump has faced criticism and scrutiny from opponents on a number of issues. One of the longest running — and most controversial — has been the efforts by the European nation of Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Russia sought to influence the outcome of the election by hacking computers of the Democratic Party and releasing information damaging to Democrat Hillary Clinton during the campaign. More recently, investigators have been focusing on what contact members of the Trump campaign may have had with Russian operatives or officials. Newspapers and other media have reported details on alleged contacts, and members of Congress have called for further investigation. With a partner, use the newspaper or Internet to closely read stories about Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential race, what political leaders are saying about it and the status of investigations into the matter. Use what you read to prepare a five-minute television newscast summarizing the latest developments. Write out the script for your report and time it for length of presentation. Deliver your report to the class.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.

2. Gluten-Free Diets

Many of the growing number of people avoiding gluten in their diets really don’t have to, a new study suggests. Gluten is a factor in only one medical condition — celiac disease, which afflicts an estimated 1.76 million Americans. But Rutgers University researchers have reported in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal that 2.7 million are on gluten-free diets without a celiac diagnosis. Many are avoiding gluten — proteins in wheat and other grains — because gluten-free foods are perceived as healthier and are now more easily available already prepared. The researchers say “self-diagnosed gluten sensitivity” has become a popular trend among food consumers. Because so many people are affected or interested in gluten sensitivity, it has gotten a lot of news coverage. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another health or diet condition that affects people. Use what you read and additional research to prepare a short speech on the subject, outlining key points people should know and steps those affected should take.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. 65 Million Displaced

Never before have so many people been displaced from their homes and homelands, the United Nations refugee agency reports — over 65 million. That is more than the entire population of the nation of Great Britain, according to the Global Trends Report. According to the report, the displaced humans include people fleeing from marauders in South Sudan, drug gangs in Central America and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. An unprecedented number are seeking political asylum, including 100,000 children attempting relocate alone. The new figures are particularly alarming, U.N. officials note, because of what one calls a “very worrying … climate of [racial] xenophobia … in today’s Europe,” which has led to “border closings, barriers and bigotry.” Refugees fleeing violence, war and poverty are often in the news — especially with regard to which countries will assist them or allow them to re-settle. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about refugees seeking refuge in another country. Use what you read to write a short editorial, offering your views on how other nations in the world could assist these refugees.

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.

4. Mental Illness Often Untreated

More than 40 million American adults are experiencing a mental health concern, according to the Mental Health America organization. That is about 20 percent of the U.S. population, and more than the population of New York and Florida combined. More than half of people with mental health issues are receiving no treatment, including Americans whose condition affects their ability to function day to day. In its annual report, the MHA said the lack of treatment was due to a shortage of mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors and psychiatric nurses. In some states, there is only one mental health professional per 1,000 individuals, the organization noted. Mental health issues are often in the news, especially programs to meet the needs of people who have the issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a program that helps children or adults with mental health or emotional issues. Use what you read to design a public service ad for the newspaper, calling attention to efforts by the program that people should know about.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. Comeback at Age 80

Senior citizens often do things that inspire people, but few do it in the spotlight of live theater. But that’s what British movie-star-turned-politician Glenda Jackson did late last year — and people are still talking about it. At age 80, Jackson went back on stage after several decades away from live theater. And she did it in a particularly challenging role, playing a man in the title role of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” in the city of London. The two-time Oscar winner had been away from acting for 23 years while serving as a Labour Party member of Britain’s Parliament legislature. But her comeback in a modern-dress version of the classical tragedy wowed critics. They called her performance “riveting” and “razor sharp,” and one wrote she was “back with us and in fighting form — a loss to politics, perhaps, but in every way, a gain to art.” Senior citizens today are more active than in the past and often do things that inspire people of all ages. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a senior citizen who is doing something remarkable. Use what you read to write a personal column, discussing what the senior is doing and why it could inspire others. Finish by discussing senior citizens in your life who inspire people in some way.

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.