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For Grades 5-8 , week of Sep. 18, 2011

1. One Person's Opinion

Bones said to be two million years old have been found in South Africa, and scientists are saying they provide a "potential game-changer" in the theory of evolution. An Associated Press story said the bones belonged to a "creature with both apelike and human traits." Lead researcher Lee Berger said he and his son found the bones when exploring in a cave. Some people say humans evolved over time, while others say the natural world was the result of divine creation. Strong opinions are expressed by both sides. Find a newspaper story on a subject you have a strong opinion about, and write an essay stating that opinion.

Core Standard: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

2. Hispanic Heritage

From September 15 through October 15 each year, the country celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month. As a class, create a list of 10 Hispanic countries of origin that are in the news. Pair off and read a story in this week's newspapers about one of the countries. With your partner, find the country on a map and create a list of three facts about it. With classmates, discuss events in the Hispanic countries and compare them with events happening in your community. What is different? What is the same?

Core Standard: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing students' own.

3. How I See It

Dinner at the Carville/Matalin household must be very interesting. James Carville is a political consultant, media personality and liberal Democrat. He worked diligently to get Bill Clinton elected president. His wife, Mary Matalin, on the other hand, is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative and worked for Republican President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Their political viewpoints are oceans apart, and they often have sparred on television. They tackle the same issues, but express very different opinions. That often is the case on the editorial pages of the newspaper - in both letters to the editor and opinion columns. Search the opinion page of your newspaper for one issue written about from two different viewpoints. Fold a paper in half and write notes about what the authors have to say about the issue and how they differ.

Core Standard: Analyzing a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation

4. Them's Fightin' Words

Tennis star Serena Williams pitched a fit during the recent U.S. Open, and tennis officials fined her $2,000 for an outburst against the match judge. The Georgetown University basketball team was involved in a brawl when it played the Baiyi Rockets in Beijing, China. And recently fans at an Oakland Raider/San Francisco 49ers game started punching one another and gunshots were even fired. Sports competitions can get out of hand. Find an example of that in a newspaper story and discuss the events with a group of classmates. Or find an example online. Try to come up with a way to keep things under control without ruining the fun of sports events. Sum up your findings in a written paragraph.

Core Standards: Drawing evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection and research; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

5. That's News to Me

Who's going to win the Super Bowl this year? Is the war in Afghanistan going to be over soon? Are Justin and Selena still dating? What gets written about and reported on in newspapers, magazines, television shows and the Internet is the product of what people think is important for readers and viewers to know. A sports writer is going to think the Super Bowl is a huge story, but an entertainment writer wants to know who performed at halftime. Find five different articles in the newspaper. Cut or print them out and talk as a class about why the newspaper editors chose to publish each story.

Core Standard: Analyzing the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats and evaluating the motives behind its presentation.