, week of
Dec. 11, 2017
1. Great Graduate News
Schools across America face many challenges, but there’s good news from the U.S. Department of Education this month. Statistics from 2016 show that the nation’s graduation rate for high school students reached an all-time high last year, the department reported. More than 84 percent of students graduated on time in 2016 — nearly a full percentage point more than in 2015. All groups improved their graduation rates, the department reported, but there were differences among them. The statistics show 76 percent of black students graduated on time, 79 percent of Hispanic students, 88 percent of white students and 91 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students. The report on graduation rates is good news for schools, teachers and parents. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read another story about a success connected to schools. Write a short editorial discussing this success and how it could inspire other successes.
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.
For 90 years, Time magazine has selected a “Person of the Year” who “for better or for worse ... has done the most to influence the events of the year.” For 2017, the magazine has not selected one person but many — the “Silence Breakers” who have come forward to speak out against sexual harassment. Led by celebrities like Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and Alyssa Milano, the “Silence Breakers” “launched a movement,” and “unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s,” Time’s editor in chief said. “For giving voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable, the Silence Breakers are the 2017 Person of the Year,” editor Edward Felsenthal said. From Hollywood to the halls of Congress, sexual harassment of women by men has always been a problem in the workplace. This year, after several high-profile media investigations, it has been discussed more openly than ever before. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about sexual harassment and how people are responding differently to it. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper analyzing what you think will be the long-term effect of this change in attitude. Be sure to cite specific evidence to support your points.
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.
3. World’s Biggest Starbucks
Starbucks has been hugely popular all over the world, and now it has opened its hugest store ever. It’s located in the Chinese city of Shanghai and at 30,000 square feet it’s nearly twice as big as the second largest Starbucks in Seattle, Washington. China is Starbucks’ fastest growing market for coffee sales, with stores opening every day and sales up 8% over last year. Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz said the new store would blend China's “rich, diverse culture” with the experience of Starbucks coffee shops in the United States and other nations. Companies that operate in other parts of the world sometimes have to adjust their practices to account for local customs. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a U.S. company operating in another part of the world. Use what you read to write a business column or story detailing challenges the company may have had dealing with local customs.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
4. Zoo Food
There are many ways to be good to the Earth, but a power company in Pennsylvania has found new one. Instead of taking its tree-trimmings to a landfill, it takes them to the zoo to feed the giraffes. Like other utilities, PECO Energy Company has to regularly trim branches of trees from power lines to keep them clear. But instead of throwing the branches away, it discovered that giraffes and other animals at the Philadelphia Zoo consider them a treat. So this summer and fall, PECO delivered truckloads of fresh greenery to the zoo to feed the animals. The giraffes love it because they eat leaves off trees in the wild. To re-create that experience the zoo hangs bundles of trimmings at treetop level so the giraffes have to reach for it. The program to use tree trimmings to feed giraffes is an example of re-using materials in a creative way. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another way natural or manmade materials are being re-used in a creative way. Create a series of comic strips showing how this re-use benefits the community.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
5. Jerusalem in Spotlight
In the Middle East, the city of Jerusalem has religious significance for Christians, Muslims and Jews. It also is at the center of a long political dispute between the nation of Israel and the Palestinian State about who can claim it as their capital city. President Trump entered the debate this month by declaring that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and announcing he would move the U.S. Embassy there from the city of Tel Aviv. That changes nearly seven decades of American policy and puts the U.S. at odds with other nations who feel the future of Jerusalem should be negotiated directly by Israel and the Palestinians. It also raises the prospect that there could be protests or even violence in response. The U.S. and other nations have been working for years to help negotiate a long-term peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. President Trump’s Jerusalem decision may complicate that. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about peace negotiations in the region. Write a letter to the editor making a prediction of what you think will happen over the next year.
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.