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For Grades 9-12 , week of Jan. 03, 2022

1. Rapping for Hope

Music performers often hope their work will help people or change the world. A new study has found that the rapper Logic actually may have done so when he wrote the song “1-800-273-8255.” That is the telephone number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the study found that the song may have helped hundreds of people who were thinking about taking their own lives. “1-800-273-8255” chronicles the experience of a person contemplating suicide who calls the hotline and is persuaded not to take that fatal step. Calls to the hotline increased after the song was released and when it was performed on special TV shows like the Grammy Awards. More than four years after its release, it remains Logic’s most popular song on the Spotify music streaming service, having been streamed more than a billion times. The song, which also features Alessia Cara and Khalid, ends with a message of hope, as the caller realizes life is worth living: “The lane I travel feels alone / but I’m moving ’til my legs give out … / I don’t wanna cry anymore / I wanna feel alive / I don’t wanna die anymore.” Hotlines are widely used to help people or provide hope in times of distress. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a hotline set up to help people. Use what you read to create a newspaper or Internet ad publicizing this hotline, what it offers and ways it can help people get through difficult times. Give your ad an eye-catching headline and choose an image to catch the attention of those the hotline is designed to help. Share ads with friends or classmates and discuss which are most effective.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

2. Record Springsteen Sale

Music superstar Bruce Springsteen has often said how much he was influenced by pioneering singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Now Springsteen has followed in the footsteps of Dylan in another way. Just a year after Dylan sold his songwriting catalog for more than $300-million, Springsteen has sold the music rights to his songs for a whopping $500-million, the New York Times reports. The Boss, as Springsteen is known, sold the rights to his music, plus his master recordings, to Sony Music Entertainment. The transaction set a new record for a music catalog sale, topping the record set by Dylan in December 2020, when he sold his song rights to Universal Music. Companies like Sony and Universal Music are paying millions of dollars for the rights to the music of popular stars in the belief they will provide revenue for years to come through streaming services and other online websites. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about an artist you think could be a target for such a purchase now or in the future. Write a business column detailing why the purchase of this artist’s music catalog would be a good investment.

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. Missed Opportunity

In college courses, one of the most important documents students receive is the course syllabus (SIL-a-bus). The syllabus outlines what topics will be covered, books that will be read, what is expected of students and other important information. Students who take many courses often get many syllabuses to read, and sometimes they don’t read them carefully. To test whether students were reading the syllabus for one course, a professor at a college in the state of Tennessee hid a clue that could have earned students $50 by finding a “hidden treasure.” Not a single student found the cash prize in a whole semester of professor Kenyon Wilson’s music seminar course at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, even though he gave a locker number and the lock combination in the clue. “I know my students read, and I don’t expect them to religiously go through word-by-word but if they did, I wanted to reward them,” Wilson told CNN News. Teachers often do unusual things to get and hold students’ attention. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about teachers doing this. Then brainstorm an unusual idea for getting students’ attention for a course you are taking or have taken in the past. Present your idea to the class and discuss why you think it would be effective.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

4. What a Lot of Bees!

All over the world honeybees are threatened by loss of habitat, pesticides and human behavior. In the city of St. Petersburg, Florida, however, a hive of 80,000 bees found a place they really liked to live — in a shower wall! The bees were discovered when the owners of the house decided to renovate the bathroom, the New York Times newspaper reported. They had built a hive more than 7 feet tall behind the tile wall and had produced more than 100 pounds of honey. The beekeeper called in to remove the bees relocated them to a beehive apiary at an urban farm. The homeowners kept some of the honey to eat and the rest went with the bees to their new home. “They were nice bees,” homeowner Stefanie Graham said. Bees and other wildlife often make homes in unusual places near people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one situation. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor suggesting the best ways people could deal with the situation.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. New Start

The year 2022 has arrived! For people, communities, teams and other organizations, the beginning of a new year provides an opportunity to make a new start after failures, setbacks, disappointments or tragedies. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person or group that might want to make a new start. Use what you read to write a personal column about the value of making new starts, why a new start could benefit the person or group you read about and what a new start would involve. End your column with a personal note about a new start you might like to make in some way.

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