, week of
Sep. 22, 2014
1. Largest Dinosaur Ever
A gigantic super-dinosaur — larger than seven Tyrannosaurus rexes put together — once walked the Earth, paleontologists have discovered in the South American country of Argentina. Named “Dreadnoughts schrani,” the giant plant-eater was 85 feet high, had a 37-foot neck and weighed about 65 tons. Its fossil skeleton is almost complete, scientists said, with more than 70 percent of its bones intact (excluding the head). What’s more, the scientists say, the “astoundingly huge” specimen was not yet full grown when it died. Fossils of dinosaurs help scientists understand what life was like on Earth millions of years ago. What would animals and plants of today tell future scientists? In the newspaper, find a plant or animal that lives in a natural habitat. Think like a future scientist and write a paragraph describing what you could learn from its fossil about its life or environment.
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. New Cricket in Your Basement
A species of camel cricket from the continent of Asia is becoming more common in the United States. It poses no threat to humans, researchers say, but may be driving out native species and could have an impact on local ecosystems. The crickets are scavengers known to eat anything (including each other) and have become more common than local crickets in home basements east of the Mississippi River. They are also known as cave crickets or sprickets (spider crickets). Species that move into a new area are called invasive species. As a class, talk about examples that have affected your state or the nation. Then draw a comic strip for the newspaper, showing the effect that one invasive species could have on native wildlife in the affected area.
Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.
3. 19th Century Wreck
Wreckage from an 1848 voyage to sail and map a Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific has been discovered by a remotely controlled underwater vehicle in Canada’s Nunavut territory near the Earth’s North Pole. The ship was one of two led by Sir John Franklin that were abandoned by their crews, and the ships’ mysterious disappearance prompted 32 unsuccessful search missions. It is believed that discovery of the wreckage near King William Island was made possible by the thinning of Arctic ice as a result of climate change. There is also speculation that with less ice in the Arctic, a Northwest Passage may yet become a major shipping route. Expeditions by explorers and scientists help people learn new things about nature and the Earth. In the newspaper or online, find a place you think would be interesting to explore. Write a paragraph describing what things you could learn by exploring it.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
4. A New Leader Program
Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are joining in a program to train young leaders through a partnership between their presidential libraries and those of Presidents George H. W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson. The Presidential Leadership Scholars Program, to be launched in February, will train students in each of the four libraries, with additional instruction from speakers from nearby academic facilities. What does it take to be a good leader? As a class, discuss qualities people need to be a leader. Then find a person in the newspaper whom you think is a good leader. Write a short editorial for the newspaper giving your opinion on why this person is a leader. Be sure to support your opinions with facts from the newspaper.
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.
5. A Boss Kids Book
Move over, Dr. Seuss — make way for The Boss! Rock star Bruce Springsteen has written what publisher Simon & Schuster says is his “first” children’s book, and it will go on sale in November. It is called “Outlaw Pete,” and it is based on a song of the same name from Springsteen’s 2006 CD “Working on a Dream.” Intended for kids of all ages, it’s about a little boy bank robber who reforms. Books for young readers can be inspired by many different things. With a partner, use the newspaper to find a person, animal, toy or other product that could be the main character of a children’s book. Brainstorm an idea for a plot. Then write the first scene and share with the class.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; demonstrating understanding of figurative language; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
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