, week of
Oct. 16, 2017
1. Wildfire Risks
The wildfires in Northern California have had a huge effect on life in the West Coast state. They have burned more than 170,000 acres and destroyed more than 6,500 homes and businesses. Dry winds of 20-30 miles per hour have fanned the flames, with gusts blowing at 60-70 mph. Forests and fields left extremely dry by drought and lack of rain have been easy targets for the fires, and made them hard to contain. Whole communities have been destroyed after homes were built in areas of high fire risks. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the impact of the California wildfires and factors that have made them so severe. Use what you read to write a short editorial, offering suggestions on steps communities could take to reduce wildfire risks in the future.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
2. Picnic at the Border
President Trump’s proposal to build a wall to block illegal immigrants from Mexico has been a divisive issue for many Americans. But earlier this month it became a unifying issue. On October 9 a giant dining table was set up on both sides of the border at Tecate, Mexico and residents on both sides had a “giant picnic” sharing the same food, the same water and music played by a band split up on both sides of the boundary. The top of the table featured a painted image of the eyes of a “dreamer” seeking to enter the United States. The picnic on the border was the idea of an artist who goes simply by the initials “JR.” “Around the eyes of a dreamer,” JR said in a Twitter message, “we forgot the wall for a minute.” Earlier JR had drawn attention to the wall issue by erecting an artwork featuring a toddler peering over the top of the wall that already exists at Tecate, looking toward the state of California to the north. Artists often use art to call attention to issues or problems important to them. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an issue important to you. Use what you read to create an artwork that illustrates or calls attention to the issue. Give your artwork a title and explain it to the class.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.
3. Arresting Officer Fired
A police officer who handcuffed and arrested a hospital nurse who was protecting the legal rights of a patient has been fired by the city of Salt Lake City, Utah. Detective Jeff Payne was fired and his watch commander James Tracy was demoted for arresting nurse Alex Wubbels on July 26 after she refused Payne’s request to draw blood from an unconscious truck driver who was involved in a collision with a suspect fleeing police. Payne had become angry when he was told that hospital policy, state law and federal law all required Payne to have a warrant or get the patient’s consent to collect a blood sample. Payne had neither, yet he handcuffed Wubbels, dragged her screaming out of the hospital and forced her into a squad car. The incident at the University of Utah Hospital was captured on video, prompting an investigation by the police department. Payne was fired for violating department policy and undermining public trust. Police officers and other public employees often face punishment for actions that violate rules or expectations for personal conduct. So do leaders in government or highly public institutions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a public employee or leader being punished for his/her actions. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, giving your view on whether the punishment was appropriate, and why. If you feel it was inappropriate, suggest an alternative punishment.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
4. Underweight & at Risk
Around the world, health experts are worried about the increase in the number of children and adolescents who are overweight or obese. Yet there is almost as big a problem with people being underweight or severely underweight, according to a new study in the medical journal called the Lancet. While 337 million children and teens were overweight or obese in 2016, 192 million were estimated to be moderately or severely underweight, researchers found. Being underweight can put children and adolescents at greater risk for infectious diseases and increase complications during pregnancy for adolescents and women old enough to have children. Obesity and weight issues are often in the news because they are important to the health of children and families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another public health issue important to teens or families. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short film or video to explain and call attention to the issue. Write an outline for your film, including what images you would use. Then write the opening scene, in the style of a movie screenplay.
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.
5. Peaceful Treatment
For military veterans who experience combat, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be an ongoing problem. But in the state of North Carolina, a new kind of healing place will use the peaceful effects of nature to provide treatment for PTSD outside a hospital. Best off all, Equinox Ranch in the town of Cullowhee in western North Carolina will provide treatment at no charge for veterans who served their country in combat situations. Equinox Ranch has been established by Dr. Margo Rita Capparelli as a way to give back to those who have served the nation. “People get out of the military and get their homecoming, and we often forget about them,” Capparelli says. “There are a lot of people suffering out there.” The treatment of military veterans gets a lot of attention in the United States because leaders and communities are grateful for their service. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about how military veterans are being treated, or the need for improved treatment to meet their needs. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, offering your views on how the veterans are being treated, or what more could be done. Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
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