1. Trump and Twitter
President Trump’s use of Twitter has changed the way presidents communicate with the public. It also has caused controversy and debate over whether the President’s “tweeting” is a good or bad thing. Critics of the president have said his “Twitter storms” damage the credibility of the White House and polls show even supporters wish the President would limit his “tweeting.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about President Trump’s use of Twitter. Use what you read to write a political opinion column, giving your view on how the President should use Twitter in the future. Detail the benefits and liabilities of tweeting in your column.
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. Fitness Tracker Errors
Fitness trackers like Fitbit have become incredibly popular with people who want to closely monitor such exercise activities as steps taken, distance covered or floors climbed. A new study, however, says there is one area in which they are not particularly good — counting calories that are burned while exercising. Stanford University researchers report in the Journal of Personalized Medicine that the tracking of calories by the devices is often wildly incorrect. The most accurate tracker was off by an average of 27 percent, the researchers found, and the least accurate was off by a whopping 93 percent. The false readings could affect users’ health, researchers note. People who feel they have burned more calories may be more inclined to treat themselves to an extra dessert or portion — and gain weight. Health and fitness are often in the news because they affect so many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a health or fitness issue important to teens or young adults. Use what you read to create a series of comic strips, explaining the key points of the issue and why they are important.
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.
3. Booted by Harvard
Harvard is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, but it has just gotten a huge black eye from a group of high school seniors it accepted for admission. After discovering that the accepted students had posted offensive, racially-charged memes in a subgroup of a university Facebook site, Harvard revoked admission for at least 10 of them. The students involved were participants in a spin-off group to the university’s official Class of 2021 Facebook group, which allows admitted students to meet classmates, ask questions and prepare for their first semester. Students in the spin-off group exchanged memes and images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust and the deaths of children, and directed jokes at specific ethnic or racial groups. Harvard reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission if an admitted student “engages or has engaged in behavior that brings into question their honesty, maturity or moral character,” among other conditions. Use of the Internet has many benefits, but it also carries risks because information can spread quickly and there is no guaranteed way to erase it. In teams or pairs, use the newspaper or Internet to find and read stories about Internet use and risks. Use what you read to create a booklet of guidelines for Internet use for students your age. Share and discuss as a class.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; closely reading written or visual texts to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. New Climate Campaign
President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement came against the recommendation of many top business leaders. Now U.S. businesses are joining together in an effort to express continued support for the agreement. Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google are among hundreds of U.S. businesses joining the effort being called the “We Are Still In” campaign. The effort, which also has the support of universities, local officials and state governments, has announced that businesses, governments and other organizations will “pursue ambitious climate goals,” even if the U.S. government chooses not to. Businesses, local officials and state governments continue to voice support the Paris climate change agreement and to take steps to slow global warming and climate change. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about such efforts. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper summarizing the efforts of key businesses and leaders — and their reasons.
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.
5. All for Love
In the Asian nation of Japan, members of the royal family cannot remain royals if they marry a commoner. So Japan's Princess Mako has decided to give up her royal status in the name of love. The Imperial Household told CNN news that plans are under way for the 25-year-old princess to become engaged to Kei Komuro, also 25, a law firm worker and graduate student. The couple met five years ago as students at the International Christian University in Tokyo. Princess Mako is the granddaughter of Emperor Akihito. In Japan the emperor is largely a ceremonial figure, with control of the government held by the prime minister and other elected officials. All over the world, people do unusual or extraordinary things in the name of love. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about special things people did for love. Use what you read to write a love poem showcasing some of those things. Your first line should be “In the name of love …” and the following lines should give examples of things people have done. After you have detailed these examples, close your poem with the words “In the name of love.” Your poems do not need to rhyme, but should use rich, colorful language. Read or perform poems aloud for the class.
Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.