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For Grades 9-12 , week of Dec. 04, 2017

1. Holiday Shopping

The day after Thanksgiving is one of the biggest shopping days of the year as people head out to malls to start buying holiday gifts. This year, thousands of shoppers were looking for something else — guns. According to USA Today, the FBI received a record 203,086 requests for instant gun background checks on the day after Thanksgiving. That was an increase from the previous year of nearly 10 percent and a new record for background checks in a single day. The surge in sales continued a trend in gun purchases. The previous two records for single-day background checks also were set the day after Thanksgiving. Americans own more guns than the residents of any other nation. Yet gun sales continue to increase. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about gun sales in America. Use what you read to write a short editorial analyzing why so many Americans choose to own guns. Share editorials as a class and discuss.

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. A Royal Engagement

Red-headed and free-spirited, Britain’s Prince Harry has been one of the most adventurous members ever of Britain’s Royal Family. Now he’s getting married and he has broken more traditions. He and American actress Meghan Markle have announced they are engaged to be married in the spring of 2018. Markle is unlike most spouses in the Royal Family. She is just the second American to marry into the family, is half African American and also divorced. Prince Harry said they had been dating since 2016, and he knew she was “the one” for him the “very first time we met.” He has been outspoken in defense of their relationship in the face of what he called “smear” coverage in newspapers and “sexism and racism” in commentary on social media. The engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has generated excitement and discussion in both the United States and Britain. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the couple. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor assessing how their marriage could be a positive thing for Britain’s Royal Family.

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.

3. Teachers Seek Support

The city of Harrisburg is the state capital of Pennsylvania and the center of debate on government issues. It is also at the center of a growing debate over school violence and behavior. The debate drew national attention late last month when teachers urged the city school district to provide additional support to deal with violence and misbehavior among students. The situation has gotten so bad that more than 45 teachers have resigned since last summer due to disruptions and physical attacks by students, according to the head of the teachers union. “Teachers and students are being hit, kicked, slapped, scratched, cussed at .... and observing other students flip over tables, desks and chairs,” the union leader said. The school district disputed the number of teachers who have resigned and said it was “committed to promoting a safe and healthy work and learning environment.” School safety is an important issue for every community. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a safety issue facing a school or school district. Use what you read to present a short oral report to the class, detailing the problem and outlining a way to deal with it.

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.

4. Scarlet Fever

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the disease known as scarlet fever caused widespread fear among parents of small children. It caused extended, uncomfortable illness in those affected and in the worst cases led to death. The disease was brought under control by the development of antibiotics like penicillin — until recently. For reasons not yet explained, there have been outbreaks of scarlet fever in the European nation of Great Britain and in Asian and Southeast Asian countries like China, Vietnam and South Korea, according to research published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal. “The magnitude of the recent upsurge is greater than any documented in the last century,” said study author Theresa Lamagni of the Public Health England group. Identified by a bright red rash, scarlet fever is caused by the same bacteria that causes strep throat. It can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Health issues often are in the news because they affect so many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a health issue important to communities. Use what you read to design a website offering information that communities would want or need about the issue. Design the home page to show categories of information you want to highlight. Pick an image to illustrate each category. Then write headlines and text blocks for each category.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.

5. Banksy Hotel

The graffiti artist known as Banksy is famous around the world for the way his artworks express his views on politics and social issues. Now a hotel in the Middle East city of Bethlehem is showcasing those views by offering no others. At the Walled Off Hotel, nearly every window of the hotel looks out on a 30-foot wall of concrete decorated with Banksy graffiti art. The hotel — whose name plays off the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City — is the first ever designed and financed by Banksy, who has never revealed his identity. Banksy did most of the artwork himself, not only on the wall outside but in each guest room. Banksy uses graffiti art to express his views on politics and social issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about issues you feel strongly about. Then think like Banksy and use paper to create graffiti-style art expressing your views on three issues. Feel free to create your own graffiti style.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.