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Grades 1-4
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for Grades 9-12

May 14, 2018
May 07, 2018
Apr 30, 2018
Apr 23, 2018
Apr 16, 2018
Apr 09, 2018
Apr 02, 2018
Mar. 26, 2018
Mar. 19, 2018
Mar. 12, 2018
Mar. 05, 2018
Feb. 26, 2018
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Nov. 27, 2017
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Oct. 30, 2017
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Sep. 25, 2017
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Aug. 28, 2017
Aug. 21, 2017
Aug. 14, 2017
Aug. 07, 2017
July 31, 2017

For Grades 9-12 , week of May 14, 2018

1. ‘Black Cargo’

Zora Neale Hurston is now recognized as one of the most important African American writers of the 20th century. But one of her most ambitious — and controversial — works never got published. Until now. Her book based on the recollections of a former slave who remembered his capture in Africa was published last week — 87 years after Hurston wrote it and nearly 60 years after she died in 1960. “Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo,’” was based on interviews Hurston conducted with Cudjo Lewis, who was believed at the time to be the last African man alive who had been kidnapped from his village, shipped to America and forced into slavery. The word “barracoon” was the name for the enclosures slaves were locked in on slave ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Though Lewis’ story had high interest, Hurston’s book was rejected by publishers because the story was told in the dialect of Lewis and other slaves who had been brought from Nigeria in Africa. Hurston refused to change the language, and her manuscript ended up in the archives at historically black Howard University. Lewis was brought to America illegally on the slave ship Clotilde in 1859, more than 50 years after the U.S. Congress had outlawed the slave trade. The book “Barracoon” sheds new light on African American history. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another effort that is providing new information about African American history. Use what you read to prepare an oral report for the class detailing how the effort will help people better understand the past.

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.

2. Free Textbooks

When students go off to college, one of the biggest expenses they face is the cost of textbooks for their classes. College textbooks are not provided for free as they are in most high schools, adding to the expense of tuition, room and board. That could change, if a pilot program being implemented by the U.S. Department of Education is successful. With $5 million in funding from the U.S. Congress, the program would provide “open-source” textbooks that students could download for free from the Internet or print out at a small cost. “If implemented properly by the Department of Education, this $5 million investment will save college students across the country millions of dollars,” said U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, who introduced the bill to fund the program. Paying for college is a challenge for many families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about families and students dealing with college expenses. Use what you read to write a consumer column offering advice to students about ways they can reduce or manage college costs.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.

3. Solar Homes

In an effort to reduce air pollution and promote clean energy, California has become the first state in the nation to require that all new homes include some form of solar power. The move by the California Energy Commission is designed to reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, which produce greenhouse gases that contribute to air pollution and global warming when burned. California is the nation’s leader in the use of solar power, which produces almost 16 percent of the state’s electricity. The solar requirement for homes is “an important step … to reduce greenhouse gases,” said Andrew McAllister of the Energy Commission. Solar power is an alternative energy source that is growing in popularity because sunlight is a clean and unlimited resource for producing electricity. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about solar power. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short documentary film about the growth of solar. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Choose an actor or public figure whom you would like to be the narrator of your film.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

4. Contaminated Lettuce

Green vegetables are supposed to be good for you, but an outbreak of food poisoning connected to E. coli bacteria has prompted stores and families to throw out tons of romaine lettuce. The outbreak has affected 29 states and sickened at least 149 people, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week. CDC officials have traced some of the contaminated lettuce to a grower in Yuma, Arizona, but they said contamination could also be coming from other sources in the supply chain. They are urging families not to buy romaine from the Yuma region, because the contaminated romaine can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even kidney failure. The E. coli outbreak involving romaine lettuce is a public health issue that could affect millions of people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another important public health issue. Use what you read to write a short editorial, outlining what families should know about this issue and why it is important.

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.

5. Driverless Military Vehicles

The U.S. military is always looking for new ways to keep soldiers safe. Now it is following the lead of private companies to see if driverless vehicles may be the answer. As companies like Ford and General Motors seek to develop driverless cars for personal use, the military is exploring ways to use driverless vehicles to reduce the risks soldiers face from hostile forces. Driverless or automated vehicles would be especially effective as a defense against Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) — the homemade bombs that caused great damage to U.S. vehicles in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unmanned or driverless vehicles would remove soldiers from unnecessarily risky situations, military leaders said. Development of driverless military vehicles is an example of technology being used in a new way to help people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another way technology is being used in a new way. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper explaining this new use of technology, who it will help, and why that is an improvement over the ways things have been done in the past.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.