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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 17, 2022

1. Historic Subpoena

In a rare and historic move, a U.S. House committee has voted unanimously to subpoena former President Donald Trump to testify about his role in the January 6 riot last year that sought to block the transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden. “He is required to answer for his actions,” said the chairman of the January 6 committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on the day votes from the Electoral College were to be counted to certify President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Yet the subpoena (or order) is unlikely to force the former president to appear before legislators and seems likely to sharpen divisions between Trump and Congress, between Republicans and Democrats, and between lawyers in a court fight that could last for months. Legal experts say the former president could fight the subpoena in court, arguing that Congress cannot compel testimony from the former chief executive. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress and the president operate as separate branches of government, the Legislative and the Executive. Experts say there are few precedents for congressional subpoenas to sitting or former presidents. “It raises a host of issues, constitutional and otherwise,” noted a former counsel to the U.S. House. “Beyond the merits … of subpoenaing a former president, how are you ever going to enforce it?” The subpoena of former President Trump has revived debate about his role in the January 6 riot, whether Congress has the authority to compel his testimony and the merits of the investigation itself. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories and commentaries about the subpoena and what its result may be. Use what you read to write a political column assessing the prospects of whether Trump will testify, whether he should and what could be gained by his testimony.

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. Malala in Hollywood

Malala Yousafzai has won worldwide fame fighting for the right of girls to go to school. As a teenager, she was shot and almost killed for her views by extremists in her native Pakistan and later she was honored for her efforts as the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Now she is taking her activism to Hollywood. Last year, she signed a multi-year partnership with Apple to develop original programming for its streaming service Apple TV+. Her offerings will include dramas, comedies, documentaries, animation and children’s programs, developed through her production company Extracurricular. In addition to advocating for women’s and girls’ rights, her projects will seek to broaden diversity in Hollywood, especially for Muslims and people of Asian descent, CNN News reports. Speaking before entertainment executives at a “Power of Women” forum this fall, the 25-year-old Yousafzai said that while there have been advances in diversity with programming like “Ms. Marvel,” and “Never Have I Ever,” executives have passed on “dozens of quality, equally amazing projects because they thought that the characters or the creators were too young, too brown, too foreign [or] too poor.” Malala Yousafzai is working to increase racial and ethnic diversity in Hollywood. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another person who is working to increase diversity in a career field or community. Use what to read to write a short editorial outlining how greater diversity in the field would make it stronger.

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

3. Reading Pushback

In communities across the nation, school and public libraries are under fire for controversial books they may have in their collections. Parents, politicians and activist groups have sought to ban books involving race, gender, sexuality and politics on grounds they are not appropriate for teen or younger readers. In many communities they have succeeded in removing books from library shelves. As a result, teens and pre-teen students have turned to the Internet if they want to read banned newer books such as “The Hate U Give,” “Out of Darkness” or “All Boys Aren’t Blue” — or even older titles such as “1984” or “Huckleberry Finn.” More than 1,651 titles were banned from school libraries between January and August this year, the Washington Post newspaper reported, and both students and libraries are turning to the Internet to push back. At the center of the effort nationally is the Brooklyn Public Library in New York City. In April, it launched its Books Unbanned program, offering free online access to its entire collection for teens who send an email. By this month the program had issued more than 5,100 library cards and checked out 20,000 materials. The type of books offered in school and public libraries is causing debate all over the nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about debates over books in different communities. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor offering guidelines for libraries when they are faced with requests to ban books. Share as a class and discuss.

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; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. Pompeii DNA

Advances in DNA technology have allowed scientists to make new advances in disease prevention, agriculture and even crime-solving. This year DNA technology has allowed researchers to learn more about people who died in one of the most famous volcano eruptions in history. Scientists analyzing DNA extracted from the bones of two victims of the eruption have learned new information about the people who died when Mount Vesuvius buried the town of Pompeii nearly 2,000 years ago in the European nation of Italy. DNA is a protein found in the cells of all living things, and determines everything from height and muscle structure to hair and eye color in humans. When scientists were able to extract DNA from the bones of Pompeii victims, they were able to discover the sex, ages and height of the victims, the Modern Met website reported. The man was about 5 foot 4 inches tall and in his late 30s or early 40s while the woman was around 5 feet tall and 50 years old. The man also was afflicted with spinal tuberculosis, a common ailment at the time. The genetic makeup of the man and woman was similar to modern individuals living in central Italy, as well as to those living there during the ancient Roman Empire. DNA technology is being used in more and more fields to help researchers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one example. Use what you read to prepare an oral report on this use of DNA technology, how it helps researchers and why that is better than techniques used previously.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Major League Playoffs

The playoffs for Major League Baseball are under way, and fans across the nation are watching to see which teams will advance to the World Series. In many years there are surprises — teams that do better than expected, players who become unexpected heroes or just plain odd or wacky events. Last year the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros advanced through the playoffs to earn spots in the World Series. The Braves won the Series and baseball’s World Championship 4 games to 2. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about the Major League playoffs this week. Keep a log or journal of interesting, unexpected or wacky things that happen each day. Think like a sportswriter and use your journal to write a column titled “Playoff Surprises.” You may write it as a humor column if you like.

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

Step onto any school campus and you'll feel its energy. Each school is turbocharged with the power of young minds, bodies, hearts and spirits.

Here on the Western Slope, young citizens are honing and testing their skills to take on a rapidly changing world. Largely thanks to technology, they are in the midst of the most profound seismic shift the world has ever seen.

Perhaps no time in our history has it been more important to know what our youth are thinking, feeling and expressing.

The Sentinel is proud to spotlight some of their endeavors. Read on to see how some thoroughly modern students are helping learners of all ages connect with notable figures of the past.

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