, week of
Oct. 02, 2017
1. Trump & Protest
President Trump likes to stir things up on social media with his remarks on Twitter. But even he may not have anticipated the reaction when he called out pro football players for kneeling in protest during the National Anthem and said NFL owners should fire any that do it. In the first weekend after the president’s NFL “tweets,” teams responded by kneeling, locking arms or staying in the locker room during the National Anthem to protest the president’s remarks. Many new players joined teammates kneeling as a protest to police shootings or other mistreatment of African Americans. And some owners appeared on the sidelines to link arms in solidarity and called the president’s remarks “divisive.” Trump later said owners took that action because they were “afraid of their players” and said that was “disgraceful.” The debate over NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem has been heated all over the country. Divide the class into two teams and research the issue using the newspaper and Internet as resources. Stage a class debate on the issue, with one side supporting the right of NFL players to kneel in protest and the other side opposing. Support your arguments with facts and information from your research.
Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
2. Aid to Puerto Rico
Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, crashing into the U.S. territory in the Caribbean Sea with 150-mile-per-hour winds. A week after Maria hit as a Category 4 storm, about 97 percent of the island’s 3.4 million people had no power and about half did not have running water. The airport was knocked out, making travel and delivery of food and other supplies impossible. Buildings were torn apart, roads ripped up and hospitals struggled with generators to keep open. A U.S. military hospital ship was sent to provide medical care, but other aid was slow to arrive. Puerto Rican leaders questioned why assistance was taking longer for the island territory than it did in the states of Texas and Florida when Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about recovery struggles in Puerto Rico. Use what you read to write a short editorial, giving your view on what people and groups in the U.S. could do to help over the next few weeks.
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.
3. Holocaust Punishment
In the European nation of Belgium, it is against the law to deny that the Holocaust took place before and during World War II. So when a former Belgian lawmaker wrote a series of blogs doubting whether Jews and others were killed by the millions in Nazi gas chambers, he was convicted, fined $20,000 and given a six-month suspended prison sentence. This month, however, the Brussels Court of Appeal postponed the prison sentence and added an unusual punishment for Laurent Louis. He was ordered to make one trip per year for the next five years to Nazi death camps, and write about the experience. He must write at least 50 lines about each visit describing what he saw in the camps and “the feelings he experienced,” according to news reports. He must submit the texts to the court and also post them on his personal Facebook page, which has about 50,000 followers. When people are convicted of crimes, they sometimes are given unusual sentences. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a case in which this happened. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor giving your view on whether this was an appropriate sentence. If not, suggest a sentence you think would have been better.
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. Technology to the Rescue
Teenage suicide is a growing concern in many communities because it’s so hard to predict. Families, schools and counseling experts often miss signs that students are depressed or thinking about taking their lives. Now researchers are turning to technology in an effort to get a better handle on how students are feeling and whether they could harm themselves. Researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center are testing an app that analyzes language to determine whether teens are at risk for suicide. Other projects are using artificial intelligence to predict behavior by analyzing a person’s language, emotional state and use of social media, according to the Washington Post newspaper. One algorithm can spot signs of depression by analyzing the tone of a patient’s Instagram feed, for example, while another can track a person’s mental state by examining the language, word count, speech patterns and activity on Twitter. Teen suicide is a problem in many communities. And teens can be a valuable voice in seeking a solution. In teams or pairs, closely read stories about efforts to address teen suicide across the nation. Then use what your read to brainstorm an idea for a one-minute public service TV ad offering ways to address the problem from a teen perspective. Write the narrative for the ad, including the images you would use. Present your ad to the class and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
5. Civil Rights Honor
The City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has hundreds of public statues, but in its long history it has never had one honoring an individual African American. Not any more. With much fanfare, a statue honoring 19th century civil rights activist Octavius Catto has been unveiled on the plaza outside Philadelphia’s City Hall. An educator, scholar, writer and athlete, Catto was gunned down by a white mob on election day in 1871 for urging African Americans to vote. He was just 32 years old. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who supported the Catto statue, said honoring Catto was important because “If you can’t respect people for what they’ve contributed to the common society, then you can’t respect people who are living here today.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a person who deserves to be honored for what they have done in your community, state or the nation. Use what you read to write a proposal for a statue, describing why the person deserves to be honored, where the statue should be placed, and how it would depict the honoree. Finish by drawing a sketch or illustration of your statue.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.
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