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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of July 10, 2023

1. TO PLAY OR NOT TO PLAY

Following book bans and concerns over how history is taught, school theater productions have become the latest battleground for political and cultural division in the US. The recent increase in scrutiny seems to focus on the presence of LGBTQ+ characters and students playing other gendered roles from the political right and issues with depictions of race and gender from the political left. Many teachers are now self-censoring and choosing shows that won’t draw controversy, all while still trying to keep them relevant to young performers and audiences. Divide into two groups and choose an aspect of theater productions that’s being scrutinized—students playing parts that don’t match their gender, incorporating adult themes, shows that include old-fashioned portrayals of race or gender, the presence of LGBTQ+ characters. Assign one group “pro” and the other group “con” and have a debate about whether that issue should or shouldn’t play a part in the decision to put on a particular school play.

2. REPAYMENT REJECTED

The Supreme Court recently ruled that President Biden’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 of student loan debt for millions of Americans was unlawful because the president does not have the authority to waive the debt without direct authorization from Congress. As such, the student loan repayment pause that was put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic will expire in October and borrowers will once again be responsible for their monthly payment obligations. Read a summary of the opinion and dissent for the Supreme Court case, then write an article detailing your own opinion on whether the Court ruled correctly.

3. NEW THREADS

A new app from Meta, the parent company behind Facebook and Instagram, was downloaded more than 30 million times in the 16 hours after its launch. The text posting app, Threads, was created to take on Twitter as the social media platform flounders under CEO Elon Musk. Now, Twitter is threatening legal action against Meta for allegedly using trade secrets from former Twitter employees to create the new app. Meta spokespeople have denied the claims that former Twitter engineers worked on Threads. Celebrities, brands, and social media influencers were given early access to Threads before it launched to the general public to kick off a fun and lively atmosphere on the new app. If you were to create an app to compete with Twitter, write down what features it would have, how it would look, and who the target audience would be. Share your ideas with your classmates.

4. END OF AN ERA

President Biden recently announced that the US has destroyed the last of its declared supply of chemical weapons, which date back to World War I warfare. The last batch to be destroyed was a stockpile of rockets filled with GB nerve agent, a deadly toxin, that were stored in Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky since the 1940s. Chemical weapons were introduced into modern warfare in World War I; their use was later banned by the Geneva Convention but countries continued to produce and stockpile them until the international Chemical Weapons Convention took effect in 1997. Under the convention, which was joined by 193 countries, the US had until September 30, 2023 to destroy its remaining chemical weapons. Write an article explaining why most of the world’s countries agreed to stop using chemical weapons in wars.

5. HELD FOR RANSOM

School districts have become targets for ransomware attacks, where files including medical records, complaints, case reports, and personal identification information were held for ransom by hackers. In one instance, Minneapolis Public Schools refused to pay a $1 million ransom and more than 300,000 sensitive files were leaked online. Many parents and students weren’t notified that their documents were part of the leak—there is no federal law to require schools to do so and many districts aren’t equipped to handle these situations diligently and transparently. Research ransomware attacks that have happened to schools and school districts. Then, write an article that explains what happened and how the districts handled the situations.