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Tuesdays -  MATH

Wednesdays -  SCIENCE


Fridays -  ELA

Should it be mandatory to get a license to be a parent?



mandatory | isolated | discretion | visible | outcomes


mandatory (adjective): required

Sample sentence: Some people say mandatory licensing for all parents could prevent such chld abuse.

Related words: command, demand, remand


isolated (adjective): set apart from others; confined

Sample sentence: Although this terrible incident occurred in 1987, it is not an isolated event.

Related words: insulate, peninsula


discretion (noun): individual choice

Sample sentence: Those who oppose mandatory licensing also say the way we raise children should be left to each family's discretion.

Related words: discreet


visible (adjective): capable of being seen

Sample sentence: Lisa had visible bruises and broken bones.

Related words: visor, vision, visual


outcomes (noun): results

Sample sentence: If licensing drivers does not guarantee a good outcome, why should we believe that licensing parents will ensure better parenting outcomes?

LISTEN TO WORDS AND QUESTIONS -- Should it be mandatory to get a license to be a parent?

Discussion Questions - Should it be mandatory to get a license to be a parent?

According to the passage, what are the arguments for mandatory licensing of parents?

According to the passage, what are the arguments against mandatory licensing of parents?

What are some examples if activities that have mandatory licensing?

Why do those opposed to mandatory licensing say it is unfair?



Whose discretion could we trust to approve or reject people as parents? How would we fund a project of this size?

Is it difficult to isolate the parental decisions that make a child healthy, happy, and productive. What makes a good parent? 



Should shopping malls be allowed to institute teen curfews? Discussion Ques

Questions for Classroom Discussion:


Using the information in the passage, why would parents disagree with a mall’s decision to institute a teen curfew? 

What sorts of incidents cause malls to institute teen curfews?

What are the disadvantages of teen curfews for malls?  

What are the benefits of teen curfews for malls? 

What is the role of a mall in a community? Babysitter? Business? Public space?


Math Discussion Question:


When malls institute adult escort policies for teens, they often invoke their right to maximize revenue by protecting customers from rowdy teen behavior. However, teens spend money, too. Are these escort policies really the best strategy for dealing with teen behavior, or are mall officials overreacting to isolated incidents?

LISTEN TO WORDS AND QUESTIONS -- If you were a parent, would you buy a doll that misrepresented your values?

If you were a parent, would you buy a doll that misrepresented your values?

Questions for Classroom Discussion:


Why did Cindy Jackson title her book Living Doll?

What is unusual about Barbie’s body type, and why are some concerned about it?

How is Barbie different from other dolls children play with?  

Does the Mattel company’s position surprise you? Do you think it is reasonable?

Are the recent changes to Barbie likely to satisfy the critics?




Every day, we see thin female celebrities admired as beauty ideals. Commercials showing skinny models promise us our bodies will undergo empowering transformations if we join a gym or buy a diet plan. When we see so many distorted images, how do we know what healthy bodies should look like? While BMI can play an important role, doctors deny that BMI is always an accurate indication of health. For example, a muscular athlete might have a BMI in the overweight range, but the conclusion that the athlete should lose weight would be false. What is the best way for a person to know if his or her weight is healthy?

LISTEN TO WORDS AND QUESTIONS - should people be able to trademark phrases?


Should people be able to trademark words, names, or phrases for their exclusive use?


Should they only do it for the purposes of selling a product or service?


Should trademark applications be decided on a case-by-case basis?


Where do you stand?

LISTEN TO WORDS AND QUESTIONS- Should handguns be illegal

should handguns be illegal?

USE THE FOCUS WORDS *and alternate parts of speech

scheme | subsequently | dominant | import | commission


scheme: (noun) a plan, especially a sly or dishonest one.

Sample Sentence: The quick and easy process of obtaining a gun enabled him to carry out a terrible scheme.

Turn and Talk: Describe a scheme that would cause your teacher to dismiss class early.

*scheme: (verb) to plan something secretive or dishonest
Sample Sentence: The prince schemed to take over the throne by poisoning his brother.

Turn and Talk: How can you tell when someone is scheming?


subsequently: (adverb) afterward; following in time, order or place

Sample Sentence: Thalidomide was a popular medication in the late 1950s, but it was subsequently shown to cause severe birth defects.

Turn and Talk: If I won the lottery, I would subsequently ___________________.


dominant: (adjective) most important or powerful; most common; strong, forceful

Sample Sentence: Self-defense is one of the dominant arguments for gun ownership.

Turn and Talk: What is the dominant reason for you to work hard in school?


import: (verb) to bring something into a country from another country, usually merchandise or food

Sample Sentence: They remind us that even if guns were made illegal in the U.S., criminals could import them from countries where guns are allowed.

Turn and Talk: Why might a country import a product instead of making it inside its borders?

*import: (noun) an item brought into a country for sale

Sample Sentence: Foreign cars are a popular import in the United States.

Turn and Talk: Governments often tax imports so that they cost more than products that are made locally. Why might this be the case?


commission: (verb) to order or request something

Sample Sentence: The principal commissioned a report on student reading scores.

Turn and Talk: What kind of report about your community would you commission?

*commission: (noun) a group of people given a task; also an act of doing something deliberately (or with authority)

Sample Sentence: The commission recommended that the vice-principal be promoted to principal.

Turn and Talk: Would you rather join a “Save Our Parks” commission or an “End Bullying” commission? Why?

LISTEN TO WORDS AND QUESTIONS - Should the use of transfats in foods in foods be regulated? December 4 3.19

Should the use of transfats in foods in foods be regulated?


widespread | predominantly | regulation | odds | compile


widespread: (adjective) found over a wide area. 

Sample sentences:

There is widespread public interest in the election.

Trade partners had become more widespread.

There was widespread opposition to the plan.


predominantly: (adverb) greater in number or influence

Sample sentence:

Uzbekistan is one of five predominantly Muslim former Soviet republics in Central Asia that overnight became independent countries in 1991.


regulation: (noun) order telling how something is to be done

Sample sentences:

Builders must comply with the regulations.

Each agency has its own set of rules and regulations.


odds: (noun) the probability or chance that something will happen or be so

Sample sentences:

She wanted to improve her odds of winning.

He overcame great odds and succeeded.


compile: (verb) collect

Sample sentences:

He compiled a book of poems.

She compiled a list of names.

They took the best submissions and compiled them in a single issue of the magazine.

We compiled our findings in the report.



Should the use of transfats in foods in foods be regulated?

Should the government ban trans fats?


Math Discussion Questions:

Why did fast food restaurants cut back on trans fats? Was it widespread worries about the American diet? Was it predominantly a desire to avoid regulation? What are the odds that fast food restaurants just wanted to help people be healthier? If you compiled a list of reasons for the change, what reasons would be on the list?


Science Discussion Question:

Who was right, Jamal or Marian? Cite specific evidence from the data table to support your conclusion. Do you think bans on trans fats should be imposed on children and teens, but not on adults? Why or why not? How might you improve this study? Think about additional information you could use to evaluate the effectiveness of labeling.




Questions for Classroom Discussion

* Who is Tadamasa Goto?

• Why did some people object to his liver transplant?

• Why are healthy organs such valuable commodities?

• Why do you think hospitals try to honor the intrinsic value of each person?

• What consequences might there be if hospitals could refuse to treat “bad” people?


Math Discussion Question:


Since there are not enough organs to go around, some people get new organs while others die waiting for them. Medical practitioners evaluate which patients have the greatest need and best chance of survival. They try to save as many lives as they can. However, in developing countries like Bangladesh, Haiti, and Ethiopia, commodities like clean water and medicine can be just as scarce—and just as important—as a heart or kidney. People of all the world’s major religions believe that all people have intrinsic worth. Some people infer from this that we have a responsibility to help people when we can. A heart can save someone’s life, but so can $5 for antibiotics. Is deciding who gets organs similar to deciding how to distribute money to organizations that help poor people survive, like Oxfam or the Red Cross? Or is it different? Why? 


Science Questions:


Do you think creating a list of “pros and cons” is a helpful way to evaluate the factors of an important decision like donating a kidney? Explain.

What other items would you add to the “benefits” column?

What would you add to the “costs” column?

What items in Pritti’s lists would you value most? For example, you might emphasize not being able to play a contact sport if you enjoyed playing football.


Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network:



intrinsic | commodity | practitioner | evaluate | infer


intrinsic (adjective) essential or natural to something

Sample Sentence: Many religions and belief systems say that each person has intrinsic value, no matter who they are or what they have done.

Turn and Talk: Describe someone you know who has an intrinsic ability to charm people.


commodity (noun) something that is bought and sold; a useful or valuable thing

Sample Sentence: Healthy human organs are valuable commodities.

Turn and Talk: Name a few commodities that your family purchases on a regular basis.


practitioner (noun) person who works in a profession

Sample Sentence: They do not want medical practitioners to decide what care to provide based on whether patients are good or bad people.

Turn and Talk: Besides teachers, what are some other types of education practitioners at your school?


evaluate (verb) to judge the value or worth of

Sample Sentence: City officials evaluated the homeless shelter’s performance and decided to give it more funding.

Turn and Talk: Should students be evaluated on their performance, effort, or both? Explain.


infer (verb) to conclude based on evidence and reasoning; to make an educated guess

Sample Sentence: While we might infer from Goto’s past behavior that he will continue his criminal activities, no one knows for sure.

Turn and Talk: Based on the progress of modern technology so far, is it reasonable to infer that robots will one day take over the world?

LISTEN TO WORDS AND QUESTIONS - Should everyone have access to medical marijuana? - OCTOBER 30 3.17

Should everyone have access to medical marijuana?


distribution | outweigh | anecdotal | front | sought


distribution (noun): the act of giving out

Sample Sentence: Medical marijuana is legal in California and in a few countries like Canada, Holland, and Italy, but there are laws in these places about its distribution.

Turn and Talk: Why do some elementary schools prohibit the distribution of cake or cookies for student birthdays?


outweigh (verb): to be greater or more important than

Sample Sentence: Supporters say that marijuana easily meets the government criteria that a medicine’s benefits to users will outweigh its risks.

Turn and Talk: Do you think the risks associated with playing football (e.g., concussions, broken bones) outweigh the fun and enjoyment some kids get from it?


anecdotal (adjective): based on personal experience

Sample Sentence: Supporters argue that both anecdotal evidence and research evidence show that medical marijuana is beneficial to some patients.

Turn and Talk: Have you ever thought something based on a friend’s anecdotal observation that turned out not to be true?


front (noun): an awkward, often faked, appearance

Sample Sentence: They argue that the medical marijuana initiative is a front for people who are really just using marijuana for fun.

Turn and Talk: Are some television shows just a front for selling products during commercial breaks?


sought (verb): looked for (past tense of seek)

Sample Sentence: Danny’s mother was so desperate to help him that she sought out organizations that would help her acquire marijuana without getting into trouble.

Turn and Talk: When have you sought help from a tutor or teacher this school year?

LISTEN TO WORDS AND QUESTIONS - should schools protect kids from cyberbullying? - OCTOBER 16 3.16



anonymous | underlying | capacity | adequately | harassment


anonymous (adjective): not named or identified

Sample Sentence: Since many of the harmful comments come from anonymous sources, teachers and principals are unable to determine who the cyberbullies are.

Turn and Talk: Describe a situation when you would want to write an anonymous note.


underlying (adjective): fundamental but not revealed or expressed

Sample Sentence: When a child is having problems in school, cyberbullying can be an underlying cause.

Turn and Talk: What could be some underlying reasons that a student refuses to participate in P.E.?


capacity (noun): ability

Sample Sentence: Tanya is the most popular student in school. Her capacity to make friends is unmatched.

Turn and Talk: Do you think you would have the capacity to run a marathon if you trained every day? (A marathon is 26.2 miles. The average marathon runner takes about 4.5 hours to finish the race.)



adequately (adverb): well enough

Sample Sentence: Because Abdul did not water his plant adequately, it shriveled up and died.

Turn and Talk: How can you tell whether the mayor of your city is doing his or her job adequately?


harassment (noun): the act of verbally or physically harming or annoying someone

Sample Sentence: The harassment continued even after Isaac asked James to stop calling him names.

Turn and Talk: Which is worse: verbal or physical harassment? Explain.



Questions for Classroom Discussion

How is cyberbullying different from face-to-face bullying?

• Does your school have the capacity to address cyberbullying using the methods suggested in the passage?

• According to the passage, what happens when schools ignore cyberbullying?

• Why is cyberbullying an important issue?

• If you
could have talked to Megan, what would you have said?


Questions for Classroom Discussion:

Who are online predators according to the article? Are there other online predators?

• According to the article, who are prime targets for online predators?

• Why would unmonitored websites be more dangerous than Facebook?

• According to the article, why do some teens accept friend requests from people they don’t know?

• How can parents monitor their children’s internet use?

• What do people lie about on Facebook? Why do they lie?

USE THE FOCUS WORDS *and alternate parts of speech      

pose | contact | prime | minimum | unmonitored


pose (verb) to pretend to be what one is not; to present

Sample Sentence: Sometimes 40- and 50-year-olds pose as teenagers on Facebook.

Turn and Talk: If you could pose a question to the president, what would it be?


contact (verb) to get in touch with

Sample Sentence: Sometimes online predators contact teenagers through the website to try to become their friends, and sometimes they say sexual things.

Turn and Talk: What kind of information can you find on the “contact us” section of a company’s website?

*contact (noun) communication; connection; touch

Sample Sentence: Before the reunion, Tanja and Max hadn’t been in contact for 10 years.

Turn and Talk: Is there a friend you’ve lost contact with? Would you like to be in contact with that friend again?


​​​​​​​prime (adjective) best or most important

Sample Sentence: These adults are looking for someone to harm, and they think lonely teens are prime targets.

Turn and Talk: Why do you think the period from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. is called “prime time” for TV shows? What does this mean for advertisers?

*prime (noun) best part; most successful time

Sample Sentence: Most soccer players reach their prime before they turn 35.

Turn and Talk: When do you think most actors reach their prime? Explain.


minimum (adjective) smallest or lowest

Sample Sentence: Raising the minimum age will not stop imposters, but might make teenagers and parents more aware of the dangers.

Turn and Talk: Do you think that the minimum age of 13 to sign up for Facebook is too young?

*minimum (noun) the least amount possible, required, or reached

Sample Sentence: Cecil worked hard to keep his mistakes to a minimum.

Turn and Talk: Do you like noise to be at a minimum when you study, or do you prefer some sound such as music or a fan?


unmonitored (adjective) not watched or checked up on

Sample Sentence: If Facebook raises the minimum age, teens might turn to unmonitored websites.

Turn and Talk: Should elementary schools allow students to use the internet when they are unmonitored? Why or why not? 


A. MySpace should be held responsible for protecting teens from online predators because MySpace created the social network. They should at least set a minimum age of 18.

B. The government should help set up school-affiliated email accounts for all middle and high school kids. This would create a protected space so adults cannot interact with teens online.

C. It is the parents' responsibility to protect their children. They need to monitor their kids' internet activity.

D. Nothing should change. Setting limits of any kind will only push teen to uses other unmonitored websites.






emerge (verb) to become known; to come into view

Sample Sentence: Alana, or Honey Boo Boo, emerged as an audience favorite in the hit show Toddlers & Tiaras, a reality TV show about beauty pageants for young girls.

Turn and Talk: What TV shows with child actors have emerged as hits over the last year?


exploit (verb) to make use of, often unfairly

Sample Sentence: Some people argue that shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Toddlers & Tiaras exploit young children for the purpose of entertainment. Turn and Talk: In some countries, students have to clean their classrooms at the end of the day. Do you think these countries are exploiting students or teaching them a valuable lesson? *exploit (noun) an exciting or daring act; an adventure Sample Sentence: Shania loved hearing about her mother’s teenage exploits, which included a pie-eating contest. Turn and Talk: Describe your most recent exploit. Who was there and what happened?


furthermore (adverb) in addition to what came before

Sample Sentence: Critics say that child actors are unprepared for fame, and furthermore, that they are unable to protect their own earnings.

Turn and Talk: What is a book or movie that kept you interested from the beginning to the end? (Try this: The plot of ______ (title) was interesting because _________. Furthermore, the characters interested me because __________.)


confront (verb) to face, especially in challenge

Sample Sentence: Some worry that these children will be confronted by viewers throughout their lives and reminded of embarrassing childhood behavior that they would rather forget.

Turn and Talk: How would you confront a friend who you suspected was saying bad things about you behind your back?


interfere (verb) to get in the way of; to prevent something from being done properly

Sample Sentence: Some people also argue that participating in a reality TV show does not interfere with a child’s ability to become a happy and productive adult.

Turn and Talk?: Do you think students should interfere when they see someone being bullied?

Should schools have a vocational track? -- September 18 3.13

Focus Words:

  • vocational
  • inherent
  • exceed
  • equivalent
  • focus

LISTEN TO WORDS AND QUESTIONS - Should schools have a vocational track? -- September 18


Should shopping malls be allowed to institute teen curfews? Focus words

USE THE FOCUS WORDS *and alternate parts of speech


revenue | institute | incident | escort | invoke


revenue (noun): income

Sample Sentence: One mall reported a significant increase in revenue on Friday and Saturday nights after they began enforcing a curfew.

Turn and Talk: Why might a country’s revenue increase while hosting an event like the Olympics or World Cup?


institute (verb): to establish

Sample Sentence: Their local mall recently instituted a 6:00 p.m. curfew for anyone under 16 years old.

Turn and Talk: How would you feel if your school instituted a dress code that excluded jeans and t-shirts?


incident (noun): an occurrence or event

Sample Sentence: After instituting the curfew, the Mall of America reported a decrease from 300 to only two incidents involving bad behavior by teens.

Turn and Talk: Are there more incidents of bullying in elementary school or middle school? Explain.


escort (noun): a person who accompanies another person, often offering protection

Sample Sentence: Around 50 of 1,200 U.S. malls have adult escort policies to reduce the amount of teenage mischief.

Turn and Talk: Name an activity that requires an adult escort.

*escort (verb): to accompany

Sample Sentence: Adults age 21 or older must escort teenagers after the curfew.

Turn and Talk: How do you prefer to arrive at school on the first day: alone or escorted by friends?


invoke (verb): to call on something, such as a law or principle, for support

Sample Sentence: More malls are likely to invoke adult responsibility to monitor teen behavior. Turn and Talk: Describe a time when you invoked the mercy of your parents to avoid a punishment

LISTEN TO WORDS AND QUESTIONS -- Should shopping malls be allowed to institute teen curfews?


If you were a parent, would you buy a doll that misrepresented your values?



undergo | empowering | implications | deny | role


undergo: (verb) to experience or endure something

Sample Sentence: As an adult, Cindy Jackson decided to undergo surgery to look more like Barbie.

Turn and Talk: Why do you think immigrants must undergo a medical examination before becoming permanent residents of the U.S.?


empowering: (adjective) giving confidence and a sense of control over one’s life

Sample Sentence: Instead, it claims that Barbie is a girl-empowering pioneer who is an inspiration to millions.

Turn and Talk: Is speaking in front of an audience an empowering experience for you? Why or why not?

Empowering can also be used as a verb (“empower”)!

Sample Sentence: New laws are empowering women in the workplace.


deny: (verb) to declare to be untrue; to refuse to provide

Sample Sentence: Mattel, the company that makes Barbie, denies that the doll hurts girls’ self-esteem.

Turn and Talk: Is it ever okay to deny you said something that you really did say? Explain.


implications: (noun) likely consequences

Sample Sentence: Still, many adults worry about the implications of Barbie’s body type.

Turn and Talk: What are the implications of watching a movie instead of studying for your math test?


role: (noun) a job or function; a part played by someone or something

Sample Sentence: The governor is taking an active role in fixing the subway system.

Turn and Talk: What is your role in preparing dinner at home?

Should people be able to trademark phrases?

Focus Words


trademark  |   explicit   |   media   |   compensation   |   prior



trademark: (noun) a distinctive mark or feature that identifies a person or thing


explicit: (adjective) fully and clearly expressed


media: (noun) forms of communication that reach a large number of people


compensation: (noun) payment


prior: (adjective) previous

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • Why was it easy for Cho to get a gun?
  • What crime did Cho commit with his gun?
  • Why do some people believe that handguns should be illegal?
  • Why do other people think that handguns should be allowed?
  • Do you think laws against owning handguns would have stopped Cho from carrying out his scheme?
  • Other examples- Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook 2012, Las Vegas 2017, massacres in mosques- 2017 and...


  • What are some major events of your lifetime that may have affected people’s feelings about gun control?
  • Which of these events may have made people more likely to support handgun restrictions?
  • Which of these events may have made people more likely to oppose handgun bans?

Pew Research Center: