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For Grades 9-12 , week of Aug. 14, 2017

1. North Korea

The United States and North Korea are at odds over the Asian nation’s efforts to develop missiles and nuclear weapons, and the threat that poses to the U.S. and other nations. The international United Nations organization has imposed economic sanctions on North Korea, and last week President Trump asserted the U.S. would respond with “fire and fury” if North Korea threatened America. North Korea leader Kim Jong Un responded by saying he would shoot missiles into an area near the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean. The war of words between Trump and North Korea escalated after the United Nations Security Council adopted sanctions designed to make it harder for the Asian nation to trade and make money around the world. North Korean officials blame the United States for passage of the sanctions. The conflict between the U.S. and North Korea has sparked debate and concern worldwide. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the conflict and what various world leaders are saying about it. Use what you read to write an editorial, outlining steps you think should be taken next to deal with the situation. Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Free Community College

Getting a college education is the key to success for many careers, and the state of Rhode Island has just made it easier. This summer Rhode Island became the fourth state in the nation to make community college free, following the example of New York, Oregon and Tennessee. State lawmakers approved $2.8 million for a pilot Promise Scholarship program that will cover the cost of tuition and fees at the Community College of Rhode Island for new students who start this fall. Students must maintain a 2.5 GPA in college while remaining enrolled full-time and agree to live, work, or continue their education in Rhode Island after graduation. Two-year community colleges provide training for careers and also prepare students to transfer to four-year colleges. In the newspaper or online, read information about training and education offered at community colleges in your state. Use what you read to write a consumer column for students, outlining different careers for which students could be trained at nearby community colleges.

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. Kennedy Center Honors

Every year the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, honors leading artists for the contributions they have made to American culture during their careers. This year’s honorees include leading figures in music, movies, TV and dance. To be honored at this year’s gala in December are singer-actress Gloria Estefan, hip-hop artist and actor LL Cool J, singer-songwriter Lionel Richie, TV pioneer Norman Lear and actress and dancer Carmen de Lavallade. This year’s Kennedy Center honors have generated controversy because honorees are generally hosted at the White House before the ceremony. Lear, who has been a sharp critic of President Trump, has said he will not attend the White House gathering. Kennedy Center honorees all have made great contributions to the arts. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person who has contributed to the arts or U.S. culture. Pretend you are giving this person an award. Write a paragraph explaining why this person deserves to be honored.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; closely reading written or visual texts to make logical inferences from it.

4. ‘Right to Try’ Bill

When patients have a terminal illness like cancer, they often are willing to try experimental treatments to extend their lives. Legislation just passed by the U.S. Senate would make it easier for such patients to get access to treatments without oversight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The “right-to-try” legislation, which is now headed to the U.S. House, would prevent the government from barring access to medications that have only undergone preliminary testing in humans. To be eligible, patients would have to have exhausted other available treatments or not qualify for clinical test trials. The bill would offer protection to drug companies if a treatment were to result in harm. Medical issues are often in the news because they affect so many families. In the newspaper or online find and closely read about a medical issue or breakthrough. Use what you read to prepare a one minute TV newscast explaining the issue for viewers. Time your presentation by reading it aloud, so that it does not go over one minute.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; closely reading written or visual texts to make logical inferences from it.

5. Auto Sales Slump

The auto industry is a hugely important part of the U.S. economy, and 2017 hasn’t been a good year for automakers. In July, Ford’s sales dropped 7.5% compared to the same month in 2016, while Fiat Chrysler declined 10% and General Motors dropped 15%. U.S. vehicle sales have come in below 2016 levels every month this year, and if that continues, 2017 will be the first year since 2009 that sales are down across the industry. On the brighter side, low gas prices have made sales of trucks and SUVs stronger than sales of cars. Economic news is important to families because it affects wages, jobs and careers. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about economic news that affects your community. Use what you read to create a chart or graph highlighting statistics that are important to understanding the story.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.