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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of July 27, 2020

1. Reversal on Masks

After dismissing the value of facemasks for months, President Trump has reversed course and said it is “patriotic” to wear them to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Aides had been urging the President to endorse facemasks for weeks and to wear one himself to set an example for the nation. He finally wore one in public this month and followed up by saying his supporters should wear them too. With cases surging around the country, the President wrote on Twitter last week that “We are united in our effort to defeat the invisible China virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can't socially distance.” More than 140,000 Americans have died from the virus, and the United States is still struggling to control its spread. In recent weeks there has been a surge in new cases and many states have tightened rules for wearing masks and opening businesses. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts to control the spread of the virus. Use what you read to write a short editorial outlining steps you think the nation and the federal government should take.

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.

2. Salute to John Lewis

If one person were to be chosen to represent the American civil rights movement, it could well be U.S. Representative John Lewis. Lewis, who died this month of cancer at the age of 80, was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders, who challenged segregated interstate travel on buses in the South. He was a founder and early leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which coordinated sit-ins at lunch-counters across the South. He helped organize the March on Washington, where the Rev. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech — and at age 23 he was the youngest speaker. He later was beaten and almost killed marching for voting rights, and he lived to serve in the U.S. Congress for 33 years. He told young people it was never wrong to get into trouble for a good cause. “Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year,” he said. “It is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” John Lewis spent a lifetime working for racial equality and fair treatment of all Americans. He inspired people with his actions, his commitment and his fearlessness. In the newspaper or online find and closely read a story about someone who inspires others with actions, commitment or fearlessness. Write a letter to the editor explaining how this person has inspired others and how the community has benefited.

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.

3. Name Changes

The Black Lives Matter movement has brought nationwide attention to institutional racism and stereotypes. And businesses are listening. The latest is the Trader Joe’s grocery chain, which is changing the names of products that are now considered to be demeaning or stereotypes. Trader Joe’s is doing away with brand names like Trader Jose’s for Mexican foods, Trader Ming’s for Chinese fare, Arabian Joe for Middle Eastern foods, Trader Giotto’s for Italian goods and Trader Joe San for Japanese food products. The names had been targeted in an online petition that claimed they “perpetuate … harmful stereotypes” and “exoticize … other cultures” through “racist branding and packaging.” Trader Joe’s said those names were intended to be playful and lighthearted but “may now have the opposite effect.” The Black Lives Matter movement is bringing change to many aspects of American life. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these changes. Use what you read to create the home page for a website cataloguing the changes in different parts of life in the nation. Divide your home page into categories for different kinds of change. Then write headlines and text blocks to explain each category.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic.

4. Arab Space Milestone

With the launch or an orbiter heading for the planet Mars, the United Arab Emirates made history for Arab nations in the Middle East. The launch marked the first interplanetary mission of any Arab country in the history of space exploration. The orbiter, named Amal (or “Hope”) will take seven months to reach the so-called “Red Planet” that is next out from Earth in the solar system. The probe will study daily and seasonal weather cycles, weather events in the lower atmosphere such as dust storms, and how the weather varies in different regions of Mars. While Amal is the Emirates’ first mission to another planet, the Emirates successfully launched three observation satellites that are orbiting the Earth. Many space missions are targeting Mars. On Thursday, July 30, the United States is scheduled to launch a rover named Perseverance to search Mars for signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples to bring back to Earth. Last week China launched a Mars orbiter of its own. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these missions. Write a paragraph describing some of these missions, what they seek to learn, and why Mars is getting so much attention from scientists.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

5. No-Go for Marathon

For the first time in history, the U.S. Marine Corps has canceled its 26-mile distance marathon for runners from around the world. The Marines don’t usually shy from a challenge, but the uncertainties of the coronavirus epidemic forced them to call off what would have been the 45th running of the race October 25. “Our Marine instinct is to lean in and fight for the possibility of hosting a live marathon,” the race director told the Washington Post newspaper. But as corona cases surged in July, it became clear the organizers could not ensure the safety of either the runners or audience. The marathon is one of the largest in the nation, drawing 30,000 runners to the Washington, DC area each year. Major events continue to be canceled due to the coronavirus epidemic. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these events. Use what you read to write an essay or personal column telling why the nation will be poorer for the loss of these events. Share with family and friends and discuss.

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.