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For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 03, 2011

1. Home at Last!

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal returned home to the United States last week after spending two years in prison after crossing over the border from Iraq into Iran in the Middle East. Iran said their release was a "gesture of Islamic mercy," but the two hikers said their conviction of espionage and imprisonment was an act of hostage taking. According to the French press, the men said they were pawns in the ongoing political dispute between Iran and the West. They also said conditions at the Tehran prison where they were held were harrowing, and they often heard screams from people being beaten. Also arrested, but released last year, was Sarah Shourd. Find a newspaper article about the hikers and their ordeal. Or find an article online. Write a summary of their experiences in the Iranian prison.

Core/National Standard: Analyzing a complex set of ideas in a sequence of events and explaining how specific individuals, ideas or events interact and develop over the course of the story.

2. Speak, Gandhi

October 2 is Mohandas Gandhi's birthday. He was born in 1869 and has long since passed away. Many people consider Gandhi to be one of the best leaders the world has ever known. He led the Asian nation of India to independence and became one of the great examples of peaceful leadership. Use various resources to learn about him. Then, using the newspaper as a guide, imagine you are Gandhi and respond to the state of the world today as you think he would have. Write your response in the form of a letter to the editor.

Core/National Standard: Writing with developing fluency for multiple purposes.

3. Is Dead Really Dead?

Doctors stood over Zack Dunlap ready to harvest his organs for donation, when his cousin asked the doctors to check just one more time for any type of brain activity. Dunlap, of Frederick, Oklahoma, had been pronounced brain dead by doctors earlier, but when asked to recheck, the doctors found brain activity. Dunlap said in a Yahoo! News article that he remembers being declared brain dead and feeling "ticked off" at the doctors. Doctors said he had met the legal and medical requirements for being declared brain dead. But many physicians are now questioning the "Brain Death Standard" put in place back in 1968. In some cases, the brain is swollen by trauma and gives off false readings of no brain activity, the article said. Find a newspaper article about a controversial medical topic. Or find an example online. Using the article as a jumping off point, research the topic and debate it as a class.

Core/National Standard: Engaging actively in collaborative discussions; evaluating a speaker's point of view, reasoning and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.

4. Having Their Say

Protestors shouting out "Occupy Wall Street - All Day, All Night," hit the streets of New York City last week to criticize the American financial system, which they say "unfairly benefits corporations and the rich," according to a Reuters article. The mostly college-aged protestors carried signs saying, "Tax the Rich" and "We Want Money for Healthcare not Corporate Welfare!" At least 80 people were arrested during the protest, mostly for blocking automobile and pedestrian traffic along the streets. One protestor, Robert Stephens, was arrested when he knelt down in the middle of the street outside the Chase Bank building, the article said. "That's the bank that took my mother's home," he said before being arrested. Search the newspaper for articles about the economy, foreclosures, corporate bailouts or taxes. Discuss as a class how the economic situations written about in the articles affect the lives of individuals.

Core/National Standard: Explaining the increase in income disparities and evaluating the social and political consequences; engaging actively in collaborative discussions.

5. I'm So Stressed!

Studies recently have shown that children can "catch" their parents' stress. Parents may think that they are shielding their children from their anxiety and stress, but research shows that children pick up on it anyway and become stressed out themselves, according to an article from the Manage Your Life online magazine. One researcher said that a parents' stress may affect a child's brain development or immune system. Another study of 8-17 year olds showed they were losing sleep because of worries, had headaches and suffered exhaustion. Find a newspaper article about stress and health. Write a short essay discussing what different kinds of stress mean for the American family. As a class, discuss things that make you and your classmates feel stressed out.

Core/National Standard: Understanding that the families of individuals involve a variety of physical and emotional relationships that can influence the maintenance and improvement of health; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose and audience.