, week of
July 16, 2018
1. Supreme Choice
Picking justices to service on the U.S. Supreme Court is one of the most important things a president does, because justices serve for life. As a result, a president gets to have a voice in legal decisions long after he leaves office. For the second time in two years, President Trump has gotten the opportunity to nominate a justice for the Supreme Court, and his choice could change the court significantly. The choice of 53-year-old Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is likely to make court rulings significantly more conservative for 30 years or more on issues ranging from gun rights to abortion to voting to health care. It also is likely to spark a heated and angry debate between Republicans and Democrats. To be seated on the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh must be approved by the U.S. Senate. Already, senators are lining up for or against his nomination. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about key points being expressed by supporters and opponents. Use what you read to write an editorial stating your opinion on whether Kavanaugh should be confirmed to sit on the Supreme Court.
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. Courageous Kids!
The rescue of 12 members of a youth soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand was a story of courage, strength and survival skills. The members of the Wild Boars team had been trapped with their coach when heavy rains in the Asian nation flooded the only passage they could use to escape. They had to survive nine days without food before they were discovered, and 18 days underground before the last of them was brought out. The rescue required the boys to swim under water and breathe through oxygen tanks — even though some did not know how to swim. The first kilometer of the escape was the hardest, divers said, because it was all under water, and the passage was lined with sharp rocks. Some stretches were so tight the divers had to take off their oxygen tanks and push them ahead of themselves to get through. The members of the trapped soccer team went through a lot before being rescued. Read about their experiences in the newspaper or online. Then use what you read to write a short creative story telling what the experience and rescue may have felt like from the point of view of one of the survivors. Be sure to convey the emotions you think the survivor may have felt, as well as the physical challenges.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it. brainstorm their behavior and activities.
3. Debt TV
Paying for college is a huge challenge for American students. The 44 million Americans who have college debt owe an average of $37,000 each, according to the latest statistics. Now a TV game show is calling attention to the problem — and offering contestants a chance to get their entire college debt “Paid Off.” That’s the title of the show, which is airing on the TruTV network. Hosted by actor/comedian Michael Torpey, the show quizzes contestants on a variety of trivia and academic topics, while spotlighting debt issues that students face. The contestant who answers the most questions gets a chance to have TruTV pay up to 100 percent of the contestant’s school loans. Torpey admits that a TV show isn’t going to solve the nation’s student debt problem. As he says at the end of each show, “Call your representatives right now, and tell them you need a better solution than this game show.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ways students and their families are working to limit or reduce the college debt they face. Use what you read to write a consumer column offering advice for lowering or limiting college debt. List some of the most creative approaches.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing;
4. Social Media Tax
Poor and underdeveloped nations are always looking for ways to raise money for government services. But in the African nation of Uganda, a new tax on the use of social media caused nationwide protest — and forced Uganda’s leader to reconsider. The tax, which was to take effect this month, would have charged Ugandans about 5 cents a day to use platforms like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. Supporters said it was a way “to look for money … to finance projects,” and was “very small” by Ugandan standards. Opponents, however, said it was a threat to their livelihoods and would make Internet access even more difficult for poor or unemployed people. In response to the protests, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said the bill would be changed to take into consideration “the concerns of the public” and presented to the country's parliament this week. Uganda is one of the poorest and least-developed countries in the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other poor or developing countries. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, outlining ways the United States or American citizens could assist one country in some way.
Common Core State Standard: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
5. National Service
Helping others provides benefits for both the people being helped and those doing the helping. And starting next year, the European nation of France will require every 16-year-old to participate in mandatory national service. The goal of the program announced by French President Emmanuel Macron is to “encourage the participation and commitment of every young person in the life of the nation” and to help them experience “the feeling of belonging to a community.” The program will include a one-month period in which students live and learn together, followed by three months of volunteer service helping the army, police or fire services, assisting or tutoring others, or preserving national heritage or the environment. Teens have many talents that could be used to help their communities. With family or friends, discuss talents you and your friends have that could be used to help others. Then find and closely read a story about a problem or issue in your community that you and your friends could help with. Write a paragraph summarizing the problem and what you could do to help.
Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.