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For Grades 9-12 , week of May 01, 2017

1. Prince Mystery Deepens

One year ago, music superstar Prince was found dead at his Paisley Park home in Minnesota from an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl. But how he got the fentanyl remains a mystery. According to court documents unsealed this month, none of the medications found in Prince's home following his death were prescribed to him in his name. And those same documents reveal that a doctor said he wrote an Oxycodone prescription for Prince under the name of his former drummer Kirk Johnson to protect Prince’s privacy. The Minneapolis Star Tribune, meanwhile, reported that a source with knowledge of the investigation said that pills seized by investigators at Prince's home were labeled as hydrocodone but actually contained fentanyl. Fentanyl is 30 times more potent than heroin, and one of the questions investigators are trying to answer is: Did Prince know what he was taking? Authorities say the Prince investigation is still open and active and could still take a while. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a crime or medical investigation that could take a long time. Use what you read to design a chart showing What Investigators Know and Key Questions to Be Answered.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.

2. ‘Buy American’

When he was running for the White House, President Donald Trump said over and over that he wanted to protect American workers and businesses. Now he has signed an executive order that declares “the policy of our government is to aggressively promote and use American-made goods and to ensure that American labor is hired to do the job.” Specifically, the order would tighten rules that award visas to skilled foreign workers and directs the federal government to enforce rules that bar foreign contractors from bidding on federal projects. “We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure more products are stamped with those wonderful words ‘Made in the USA,’” Trump said. President Trump’s executive order to “Buy American, Hire American” seeks to improve the situation for American workers and businesses. It also has drawn criticism from people who think it will not be effective. In the newspaper or online, closely read commentary about the order. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay summarizing key points from different commentators.

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. A Surprise Election

Last July, the European nation of Great Britain voted to leave the European Union (E.U.) after being a member for 44 years. Ever since, Britain has been debating what terms should be negotiated for the British exit — or “Brexit.” Now the debate has gotten a surprise complication. British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for an early national election on June 8, seeking to solidify her support as she leads the E.U. negotiations. The election cannot undo Britain’s break from the E.U., but it will help set the tone for talks determining how the split will take place. The Prime Minister laid out her vision for leaving Brexit in January, but she drew opposition not only from the rival Labour Party, but from members of her own Conservative Party. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has caused great uncertainty among other European nations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about possible effects of the British vote. Use what you read to write a short newspaper analysis of how those effects could affect other European nations, or affect the United States.

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. That’s Strong!

For many people, a cup of coffee in the morning is the “pick-me-up” they need to start the day. But how many would want a cup of coffee that packs four times the caffeine of an average cup? A new South African brand with the ominous name Black Insomnia now is available in the United States through the online shopping site Black Insomnia has 702 milligrams of caffeine per 12 fluid ounces brewed, about four times the amount in a typical cup of coffee and about 1.75 times the amount of caffeine recommended daily for an adult by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That would make it the world’s highest caffeine coffee, easily topping the second highest, named Death Wish, which has 66o milligrams (a serving of Starbucks’ dark roast coffee has approximately 260 milligrams of caffeine). According to the Mayo Clinic, going over the recommended limit for caffeine increases chances for heart palpitations, nervousness, migraines, insomnia and muscle tremors. Companies often seek to promote products by declaring them to be the “biggest,” “strongest,” or “newest” thing of its kind. Search the ads of the newspaper or Internet and make a list of such adjectives used to describe products. Then use what you find to write a humorous poem or rhyme called “-Est is Best.” Share poems with the class in a humorous way.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

5. Royals Speak Out

It is rare for Britain’s royal family to open up about personal matters. But Prince William, Prince Harry, and William’s wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, are speaking out to call attention to mental health issues and the importance of discussing emotional wellbeing. In a video filmed at Kensington Palace, the three young royals lent support to the Heads Together campaign which promotes openness about mental health. In the video and in interviews, Prince Harry spoke openly about the “total chaos” he went through, after his mother Princess Diana died in a car crash when he was 12. “I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12 and shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years has had a quite serious effect,” he said. Prince William agreed, noting “Harry and I, over the years, have not talked enough about our mother.” The Duchess, Kate Middleton, talked openly about the struggles and stress she has faced as a young mother. People often feel uncomfortable talking to others about emotional or mental health issues. But experts say sharing feelings is important. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone having an experience that could cause emotional or mental health pressures. Write a personal letter to that person giving reasons it is important to share their feelings and “get them out” in the open. Suggest people the person could talk to. Write a similar letter to someone you know, if you think it would help.

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.