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For Grades 9-12 , week of Dec. 13, 2021

1. ‘Buzz’ for the Holidays

Every year during the holiday season, consumer writers, marketing experts, bloggers, podcasters, toy fans and social media influencers spend an enormous amount of energy trying to predict what products will be the most popular for consumers. Will hot new toys carry the day? Video games? Smart phones or other electronics? Fashionable clothing? Celebrity sneakers? As a class, discuss products you have heard about that are generating a lot of “buzz” this holiday season. Use the newspaper and Internet to read or follow consumer writers, marketing experts, bloggers, podcasters, toy fans and social media influencers to learn what products are trending as top sellers. Use what you read to write a consumer column, blog or social media post predicting what you think will be top sellers, and why.

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.

2. The Power of Poetry

At age 22, Amanda Gorman captured the attention and praise of people across the nation as the youngest poet ever to read an original work at the inauguration of a U.S. President. Now Gorman has followed up the success of her inauguration poem “The Hill We Climb” with the release of her first collection of poems, titled “Call Us What We Carry.” The new collection explores history, language, identity, and feelings of isolation and erasure in a variety of styles and structures. More specifically, Gorman again calls attention to the power of poetry to express fundamental emotions such as hope and grief in the face of events and challenges such as the coronavirus epidemic, the threats of climate change and America’s refusal to own and atone for its history, especially with regard to race. In the title she asks readers to “own” our experiences, attitudes and history and to carry them with us going forward. She “shines a light on a moment of reckoning,” her publisher says. “[She] has become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future.” Now 23, Amanda Gorman is calling attention to significant issues in America through poetry. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an issue that is important to you. Challenge yourself to write a poem about this issue that will engage, provoke or educate people about it. In the spirit of Amanda Gorman, use vivid word pairings and unusual forms to make your poem memorable. Read some of Gorman’s poetry for inspiration, if you wish.

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

3. Expensive Cities

With supply-chain problems, inflation and rising prices on consumer goods, the cost of living is rising all over the world. But some cities are being harder hit than others, and that has landed them on the Most Expensive Cities list compiled each year by a worldwide leader in business research and intelligence. The list is put together by the Economist Intelligence Unit of the Economist Group based in London, England, and this year there is a new leader. The Middle East city of Tel Aviv, Israel jumped from fifth place to first due to sharp price increases in groceries and transportation. Tel Aviv replaced last year’s leader, Paris, France, as the most expensive place to live. The European city of Paris dropped to a second place tie for expenses with the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore. Two American cities made the Top 10 in this year’s list: New York City at Number 6 and Los Angeles, California at Number 9. The Most Expensive List is based on comparison of prices for more than 200 everyday products and services in 173 cities around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about prices in your community or state. Use what you read to talk with your family about how much it costs to live in your city or community. Write a paragraph or short paper analyzing how expensive your community is, and why.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

4. Like a Cold?

Scientists all over the world are working overtime to understand how the omicron variant of the Covid 19 coronavirus spreads — and how to keep it from spreading further. A team of researchers in Cambridge, Massachusetts has reported that omicron spreads easily because it shares genetic code with the common cold. The team from the Nference firm, which analyzes biomedical information, sequenced the genetic code of omicron and found a snippet that is also present in a virus that causes colds, the Washington Post newspaper reported. They say this mutation could have occurred in a person who had both Covid 19 and a cold at the same time. This mutation could explain how omicron “lives and transmits more efficiently with human beings,” one researcher said. The omicron virus is causing concern in communities all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the latest developments in the United States and elsewhere. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining steps communities should take to limit the spread of omicron.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Faster Moving Current

Ocean currents are rivers of warm or cold water that run through the sea. They warm up or cool down the land areas they touch and have a great influence on climate and habitats. The world’s strongest ocean current flows around the continent of Antarctica in a clockwise direction near the Earth’s South Pole. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current keeps Antarctica cold, but it now is undergoing change that could have long-term effects on Antarctica’s climate and environment, according to a new scientific study. The current is speeding up due to human-caused global warming that is affecting air and water temperatures, the researchers wrote in the study published in the scientific journal called Nature Climate Change. They believe faster circulation will change the way heat is distributed in the world’s oceans and affect marine life, sea ice and glaciers, the Washington Post newspaper reported. The Antarctic region absorbs much of the heat that human activity pumps into the atmosphere, the scientists noted. Global warming is affecting the Earth’s oceans and coastlines in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one effect. Use what you read to plan a TV news special on this effect. Write an outline for your special, including images you would use. Then write the first scene.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

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