For Grades 9-12 , week of Dec. 14, 2020

1. Electoral College

On Monday, December 14 the members of the Electoral College vote to confirm the results of voting in the presidential race. Ordinarily, that would be a routine affair, with electors from each state casting their votes for the winner of the popular vote in their state. But this has not been an ordinary year. President Trump has refused to accept that he lost the election to former Vice President Joe Biden, and he and his allies have filed dozens of legal challenges in state and federal courts. The vast majority have been rejected by judges, and Monday’s vote is expected to confirm that Biden easily surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to become president. Nonetheless, Trump and his supporters are expected to continue filing challenges at least until the votes of the Electoral College are counted by the U.S. Congress on January 6. According to certified state-by-state results from the November 3 presidential election, Biden won by more than 7-million popular votes and achieved 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. The challenges by President Trump and his supporters to the results of the presidential race are unprecedented in American history. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the ongoing drama to overturn the results certified by the states. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing the long-term effects of the President’s challenges.

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. Teens and the Runoffs

On January 5, the state of Georgia will hold two runoff elections that could determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the U.S. Senate. And teenagers could play a role in determining the winners. Earlier this year a group of Georgia teens organized an effort called Students for Tomorrow to register young voters for the presidential race, and they kept going after the presidential voting with an eye on the Senate runoffs, CBS News reports. The group registered nearly 20,000 young voters before the November 3 presidential election and have targeted another 23,000 Georgians who have turned 18 since then and will be eligible to vote for the first time January 5. In the runoffs, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler is being challenged by the Reverend Raphael Warnock, and Republican Senator David Perdue is facing Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. The runoffs were required under Georgia law because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote on November 3. The Georgia Senate runoffs have national significance. If both Democrats win, the party would control the Senate. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the Georgia runoffs and how important they are to the national Republican and Democratic parties. Prepare a TV newscast examining the importance of the runoffs and how that is demonstrated by actions taken by the two parties.

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. Milestone TV Move

In the business world, women have often had trouble winning appointments at the highest levels of management — especially women of color. Now Rashida Jones has broken through the so-called “glass ceiling” that has blocked women’s advancement and made corporate history. Jones, 39, will become president of the MSNBC television network, the first African American woman to hold the top spot at a major cable news network. Jones, who joined MSNBC in 2013, is a senior vice president who has overseen breaking news and major events as head of both daytime and weekend news programming. In announcing her promotion, MSNBC praised her for leading “with a laser-like focus and grace under pressure,” while covering such events as the presidential race, the coronavirus epidemic and the nationwide protests stemming from the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rashida Jones will make history when she becomes president of MSNBC early next year. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other women who are breaking new ground in the business world. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing how these women’s achievements could pave the way for other achievements by women and women of color.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. 8 Seconds = $3,500

In states across America, many residents have protested that rules and restrictions to control the coronavirus have infringed on individual freedoms because they are too severe. They should be happy they don’t live on the Asian island of Taiwan. Government officials there have set rules that make it illegal for people to leave their homes or hotel rooms if they have been asked to quarantine. Penalties are severe, as a quarantined man found out. The man left his room in a quarantine hotel for 8 seconds and was slapped with a $3,500 fine, CNN News reported. The man was recorded on security cameras in the hallway outside his room, and hotel officials reported him to authorities. Taiwan’s tough coronavirus rules have given the island region one of the best control rates in the world. The island of 23-million people has recorded just 716 coronavirus cases and seven deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Controlling the coronavirus is still a huge challenge for nations around the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about what the United States and other nations are doing. Use what you read to prepare a PowerPoint presentation comparing different approaches and which have been the most effective. Illustrate your PowerPoint with images from the newspaper or Internet. Present your PowerPoint to family, friends or classmates and discuss.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Happy Ending

Everyone loves stories that have a happy ending — especially during the holiday season. In the state of Alabama, a woman whose dog had gone missing got an ending that thrilled her — in a place she couldn’t believe. June Rountree had been looking for her dog Abby for more than three weeks after the mixed-breed pooch had gotten loose from Rountree’s back yard. Then Abby showed up — at the Walmart where Rountree works as a cashier. Abby had never been inside the store, but came in and was going from aisle to aisle as if she had a purpose, the Washington Post newspaper reported. She finally spotted Rountree working register Number 6 and headed right for her. “I said, ‘It can’t be,’ ” Rountree said when she spotted a distinctive patch of white fur around Abby’s nose and neck. “I called her name and she came to me. I bent over and hugged her. [Then] I completely lost it.” People love happy endings. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story that has a happy ending. Then find a story about a situation that has not had a happy ending, at least not yet. Use your imagination and knowledge to write a happy ending for this story. Is there a way your family or community could make this happy ending happen?

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusion.