, week of
Dec. 11, 2017
1. Russia Olympics Ban
Russia has long been a power in Winter Olympics competition, but when the 2018 Games open in South Korea in February, there will be no Russian team competing. The International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from the competition as punishment for running a state-sponsored doping program that used performance-enhancing drugs to boost athletes’ success. The program, which went on for years, is believed to be the most extensive cheating scheme in Olympic history. Some Russian athletes may be allowed to compete as individuals if they pass drug tests and demonstrate they have cleared vigorous drug-screening in the past. As a result of the ban, Russian officials cannot attend this year’s Winter Games and the Russian flag will not be displayed. The ban of the Russian team could have significant effects on the Winter Olympics competition. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories discussing Winter Olympic sports in which Russian athletes were expected to do well. Use what you read to write a sports column discussing how the Russia ban could change how people feel about the quality of competition at the 2018 Games.
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. A Win for Business
Efforts to protect natural areas have caused sharp debates between business interests and environmentalists all over the country. This month President Trump took the side of business interests when he announced he would greatly reduce the size of two national monument areas created by Democratic presidents in the state of Utah. Trump announced he would reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and the Grand Staircase-Escalante area by about 50 percent. As a candidate and as president, Trump has pushed for fewer restrictions and more development on public lands. “Together we will usher in a bright new future of wonder and wealth,” he said when announcing his decision. The President’s decision on the Utah monument areas is causing wide debate — and could lead to lawsuits. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the debate. Use what you read to list the top arguments for and against the President’s decision. Discuss as a class.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
3. Slave Graves
Archaeologists excavating a site targeted for development have found one of the earliest slave burial grounds in the state of Delaware. The dig at the site of a tobacco plantation in the town of Rehoboth contained skeleton remains of slaves dating back to the 1600s. Analysis of the remains found at the plantation known as Avery’s Rest confirmed they were from men of African ancestry. The plantation was founded around 1674 by an English sea captain and planter named John Avery. Historical records indicate Avery owned two slaves at the time he started the plantation. Communities across the country have been making efforts to more deeply examine the direct and indirect effects of slavery on local history. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a community re-examining its connections to slavery. Use what you read to create an oral report detailing what the community is doing and how it could change people’s understanding of history.
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.
4. Bad News for Bugs
Insects play an important role in the natural world, helping pollinate fruits and vegetables, providing food for birds and other species and even cleaning up the corpses of animals that die. But a study in the European nation of Germany indicates the insect world may be in danger. The study found “alarming” and “dramatic” declines in insect populations in protected nature reserves, sometimes by more than 75 percent over nearly 30 years. “The flying insect community as a whole ... has been decimated over the last few decades,” researchers said in the study. The loss of insect “diversity and abundance” could have “cascading” effects on food webs and ecosystems, the researchers said. Each type of wildlife in an ecosystem contributes to the health of the system. When something happens to one type, it affects the entire ecosystem. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an ecosystem that has changed because of what has happened to one type of wildlife. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short film or video explaining the change. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use.
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. Kids’ Climate Lawsuit
It’s often said that today’s children are the ones who will have to deal with the effect of climate change in the future. In the European nation of Portugal, a group of children are taking action now. Seven children who live in a district hard hit by forest fires this summer have announced plans to sue 47 European nations for failing to take action on climate change. The children, aged 8 to 18, have raised more than $25,000 to pay for the lawsuit through an Internet crowd-funding campaign. The suit targets nations that are members the Council of Europe and signees of the Paris Climate Accord. Heat and droughts caused by climate change create conditions that make forest fires more dangerous, the children say. “We must act to have a better future,” said one of the children in the case. More and more teens and pre-teens today want to take action to change things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a teen/pre-teen or group taking action to change a situation. Write a short editorial expressing how the action could inspire others.
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;