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For Grades K-4 , week of May 01, 2011

1. Older Americans

May is Older Americans Month, a time when we celebrate the lives of people who are more than 65 years old. As a class, read a story in the newspaper about someone interesting who is older than 65. Talk about what the person is doing that is having an effect on the community. Then write a short poem about someone you admire who is older than 65.

Learning Standard: Writing fluently for multiple purposes to produce compositions, such as stories, poetry, reports, letters, plays and explanations of processes.

2. History and Politics

The United States first celebrated its fight for freedom on July 4, 1776, but it wasn't until April of 1789 that the nation elected its first president. General George Washington, a hero of the American Revolution, was elected overwhelmingly to lead the brand new country. In the history of the country, the nation has now had 44 presidents. Some of them served for a very short time, such as William Henry Harrison, who was president for only a month before he died of pneumonia. Others served longer, including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was elected four times and served for more than 12 years. Now presidents are allowed to serve just two four-year terms at most. As a class, find and read an article in the newspaper about President Obama, or the 2012 election. Talk as a class about what qualities a president should have.

Learning Standards: Understanding the fundamental principles of American constitutional democracy, including how the government derives its power from the people; engaging peers in constructive conversations about topics of interest or importance.

3. Space Shuttle Mission

Thirty years ago this spring, the Space Shuttle Columbia rocketed into space, where it spent two hours orbiting the Earth on America's first space shuttle flight. This week, the Space Shuttle Endeavour is orbiting high above the Earth in the next-to-last scheduled shuttle mission. All told, there have been more than 130 missions involving various space shuttles. Many of those missions were successful, such as the one Discovery took to place the Hubble Telescope into orbit. Other missions turned tragic. The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff in 1986, and one of the people who died was Christa McAuliffe, a teacher. Another shuttle, the Columbia, ripped apart as it was re-entering the Earth's atmosphere in February 2003. As a class, look in the newspaper and read an article about the mission of the Endeavour this week. Discuss the mission and talk about the future of space exploration.

Learning Standards: Knowing objects in the sky move in regular and predictable patterns and that Earth is one of several planets that orbit the sun.

4. Wacky News

Sometimes news is just plain weird and wacky. For example, a woman in Florida recently went into her bathroom and found a 7-foot alligator! In San Francisco, California, a large group of adults got on tricycles or Big Wheels and raced down the city's steep, curvy streets on Easter weekend. In Chicago, Illinois, two thieves broke into a hair salon and stole a bunch of hair. As a class, or in teams, find a weird or wacky news story in your newspaper this week. Or find an example online. Read the story and draw a cartoon or comic strip showing what it is about.

Learning Standards: Acquiring information from a variety of written, visual and electronic sources; using the craft of the illustrator to express ideas artistically.

5. Great Computers

Technology and inventions are constantly changing the way people live. Back in 1952, for example, only one in three homes had a television and no one had a computer. Then the president of the International Business Machine company -- IBM -- told his stockholders that IBM was developing the "most advanced, most flexible, high-speed computer in the world." The computer, the IBM 701 Electronic Data Processing Machine, was unveiled in April 1953. Then 28 years later, the company introduced the personal computer. As a class, find an article in the newspaper about computers or computer technology. Divide into two groups and have one group talk to the class about the benefits of computer advances and the other group discuss effects of technology advances that have not been good for people.

Learning Standard: Analyzing media as sources for information, entertainment, persuasion and interpretation of events.