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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 06, 2023

1. INFORMATION UPDATE

In the wake of the recent hospital explosion in Gaza, Israel and Hamas each blamed the opposing side for the attack and released little evidence to back up their claimed. In the weeks following that event, more evidence has emerged, but it still isn’t completely clear who caused the attack. Many news outlets have made assertions, later retracting or revising them when new evidence comes to light; others have stuck by their initial claims. Recently, the New York Times laid out the various evidence the US has access to and what it does or doesn’t mean. Read more about the issue and consider the challenges of reporting an ever-changing story. Is it better to have a story out quickly, even if all the facts aren’t yet available? Is it better to stick to initial claims or admit you were incorrect and print a retraction or revised version of a story? Write at least a paragraph about your thoughts on the matter.

2. EVACUATIONS BEGIN

Hundreds of people were able to cross the border from Gaza into Egypt, making them the first group to escape the territory since war broke out there weeks ago. Among them were foreign passport holders, aid workers, and critically wounded patients in need of medical attention, along with some of their family members. A few US citizens were among the first group allowed to leave, but hundreds more remain in Gaza, unable to leave until at least Thursday. Egyptian leaders have expressed concern with allowing a large number of Palestinians to exit into Egypt, as it could make the country another target of attacks. Using what you thought about in Lesson #1, consider how you would report on this story. Write down the sources you would use, the questions you would ask them, and how you would fact-check your work before publishing.

3. A CURE ON THE HORIZON

New technology could be the cure for diseases like sickle cell anemia, which affects more than 100,000 people in the United States alone. Exa-cel is a treatment developed between a pharmaceutical company in Boston and CRISPR Therapeutics, a Swiss company that pioneered a gene-editing technique under the same name. A panel of experts has concluded that exa-cel, which was already determined to be effective in fighting sickle cell anemia, is safe for patients. The FDA will now decided whether to approve the treatment for clinical use, which it’s expected to do by early December. Sickle cell disease is caused by a gene mutation; CRISPR technology can turn specific genes on or off in DNA, which has led to significant advancements in biomedical research, but this will be the first instance of it being used in patients. Research more about sickle cell anemia, including the effects of the disease and the people it predominantly affects. Then, write a brief article explaining how this treatment could impact people.

4. MAYORAL SCANDAL

New York City Mayor Eric Adams abruptly left Washington, DC, last week to return home amid a growing corruption scandal. While neither Adams nor anyone on in his campaign team has been accused of any wrongdoing, the lead fundraiser for his 2021 mayoral campaign had her home raided by the FBI as part of a public corruption investigation. The investigation is looking into whether the Turkish government routed money through a Brooklyn construction company to discreetly donate to the campaign. It’s the latest scandal to touch Adams’ mayoral administration; his building commissioner was charged with taking bribes in September, though he has denied any wrongdoing. Adams was supposed to be in DC to lobby alongside the mayors of Chicago and Denver for help with the migrant crisis affecting their cities, but he suddenly returned home the day the raid took place. Consider the pitfalls of reporting on a story like this where no one has been charged with a crime. What are the ethical implications reporting on the events in this story? What should a reporter pay attention to in order to present the story fairly? Write a paragraph about your thoughts.

5. AN IMPENDING CRISIS

While many don’t think about groundwater, or the water found below the surface of land that fills the spaces between soil and rock pieces, it’s used for drinking water by about half the US population—and it could be a cause for concern soon. An investigation by the New York Times found that drinking water and farmlands are at risk as aquifers are depleted and states are doing little to track and regulate one of the country’s most precious natural resources. Read more about the Times’ investigation. Then, write an article that summarizes the issue and makes suggestions for how the issue could be improved nationwide.

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