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For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 05, 2022

1. Heated Politics

The midterm elections are shaping up as a fierce battle between Republicans and Democrats for control of the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House and governorships around the country. With the two major parties sharply divided on issues, approach and even attitude about government and democracy, President Biden has gone so far as to declare that the election is “a battle for the soul of this nation.” In a sharp and unusual speech, the Democratic President traveled to Independence Hall in Philadelphia just before Labor Day to declare that democracy is under assault from extremists who seek to divide the nation with claims the last presidential election was illegitimate and that our electoral system is riddled with fraud. Republicans who were the target of the President’s criticism countered that it is Biden who is being divisive by disrespecting the millions of voters who support former President Donald Trump and his claims that the last presidential election was “stolen.” In election years campaigns heat up after the Labor Day weekend, when summer vacations are over and people are more ready to focus on politics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the midterm elections on November 8. Use what you read to write a political column focusing on one or two closely contested races, why they are important and what you think the outcome could be.

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. Spotlight on Black Studies

Advanced Placement Courses allow students to take college level courses while in high school and get college credit for them. Run by the College Board, which also oversees the SAT college entrance exams, Advanced Placement (A.P.) Courses are offered in a wide range of subjects, including math, sciences, history, foreign languages and English literature and composition. This fall the College Board is adding a significant new Advanced Placement Course — in African American studies. The course is being offered in a pilot program in 60 high schools and will expand to other schools next year. The curriculum will be multi-disciplinary, addressing not just the history of civil rights, but also African American literature, the arts, science, music, politics and the even geography, the New York Times newspaper reported. It also will examine the contributions and experiences of African Americans throughout U.S. history. Educator Henry Louis Gates Jr. hailed the new curriculum, saying “Nothing is more dramatic than having the College Board launch an A.P. course in a field.” There has been much debate this year about how schools should teach issues involving race, slavery, discrimination and injustice. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the debate and how states and school boards have responded to it. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor giving your view on how schools and government leaders should handle this difficult issue.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Dangerous Meltdown

The ice sheet covering the Arctic region of Greenland is the second largest in the world after the continent of Antarctica. But the Greenland sheet is in trouble due to global warming, and that could have huge effects on oceans and coastal areas. According to dramatic new research, scientists have determined it is now inevitable that 3.3 percent of the Greenland ice sheet will melt due to global warming — and that could trigger a nearly one-foot rise in sea level for the world’s oceans. The research by the Nature Climate Change project paints a more threatening picture of ice loss than other research, but it has scientists around the world buzzing, the Washington Post newspaper reports. Because the Arctic area near the North Pole is warming faster than any region on Earth, Greenland now contributes more to the rise of sea levels than any other area in the world. The new research did not offer a time frame for when Greenland’s melting ice would raise sea levels, but the authors indicated it could take place by the year 2100. Global warming is affecting habitats and oceans all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the effects. Use what you read to write an editorial for the newspaper outlining how these effects could eventually affect humans.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. Record Breaking Card

Mickey Mantle was one of the greatest Major League Baseball players of the 1950s and 1960s and one of the most popular players ever. How popular? A mint-condition baseball card of the New York Yankees slugger just sold for $12.6-million — the most ever paid for any sports card or collectible. The 1952 Topps card was rated by experts as the “finest known example” of the card and broke the previous record for a sports card by more than $5-million. The card that had held the record was a T-206 Honus Wagner card that sold for $7.25-million in early August. Honus Wagner was a Hall of Fame star for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900 to 1917, and the T-206 card dates from 1909-1911. Mantle, who is also a Hall of Famer, played 19 years for the Yankees, and the 1952 card was from his second season. He was one of the most feared sluggers of his time, twice hitting more than 50 home runs in a season and winning three Most Valuable Player awards. Sports cards for famous players have become hugely collectible, with people paying millions of dollars for the rarest and most desirable ones. Whose cards will be the most valuable in the future? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about athletes from today whose sports cards could be highly valuable in future years. Use what you read to write a sports column focusing on two or three athletes and why their sports cards could be hugely valuable years from now. Be sure to include evidence and statistics from the athletes’ careers as evidence for your argument.

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; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. More Water Restrictions

Intense heat, lack of rain and severe droughts have had a huge impact on states in the American West. Nowhere is that more evident than along the Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million people in seven southwestern U.S. states and the nation of Mexico. Now, for the second time in two years, the U.S. federal government is restricting how much water can be drawn from the river for farming and other activities — and more drastic restrictions may be on the way, the New York Times reported. Last month, federal officials set new restrictions for water use by the states of Arizona and Nevada after they and five other states failed to meet a deadline for adopting steeper cuts in water use. In June, the federal government asked the states of Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming to negotiate among themselves to come up with a plan for using less water and threatened to impose steep restrictions if they did not. The negotiations have gone slowly, prompting one frustrated official to complain they had produced “exactly nothing in terms of meaningful collective action.” The restrictions on Arizona and Nevada were prompted by the fact that Lake Mead, the huge reservoir fed by the Colorado River, is now about 175 feet lower than it was in the year 2000. Severe droughts are having an impact on human activities all over the United States and the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the impact in different places. Use what you read to create the home page for an informational website on “Drought Around the World.” Pick four cases to highlight the impact of drought and write headlines and copy blocks to explain them. Choose images from the newspaper or Internet to go with each copy block.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

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