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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Nov. 07, 2011

1. Vets in the Spotlight

November 11 is Veterans Day. Veterans are people who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Look in the newspaper to learn about issues that U.S. veterans are facing. As a class, discuss the role the armed forces play in U.S. society. Then research and write a short essay on the role the U.S. armed forces play in the world.

Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions, building on ideas of other students and expressing their own clearly; engaging peers in constructive conversation about matters of public concern by clarifying issues, considering opposing views, applying democratic values, anticipating consequences and working toward making decisions.

2. Let There Be Lights!

Solar storms on the Earth’s sun can cause amazing light shows in the sky that are called the Northern Lights. They usually can be seen best in the northern regions of the Earth, but an unusual storm in October could be seen as far south as the southern United States. The red and green lights, which are caused by magnetic solar wind hitting the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field, were seen as far south as Georgia and Alabama. After giving skywatchers on Earth a thrill, the solar winds battered the planet Mars, which is next out from Earth in the solar system. As a class, find a story in the newspaper about space or an unusual event in nature. Read the story and discuss what scientists know about the situation and what they would like to know. Draw an illustration that would help explain or demonstrate the situation.

Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions, building on ideas of other students and expressing their own clearly; adding drawings or other visual displays when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts and feelings.

3. Unexpected Weather

Late October in the northeastern United States is usually the time when the region starts to get a little chilly. But this year, the days before Halloween looked more like mid-winter than the first part of fall. A huge and record-breaking snowstorm blanketed the Northeast, and more than 1 million people lost power. Use your newspaper to learn more about what type of weather you’ll be experiencing this week. Then answer the questions below.

Core/National Standards: Reading closely to determine what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from a text.

A. What will the weather be like tomorrow?
_______________________________________________

B. How warm will it get?
_______________________________________________

C. How cold will it get?
_______________________________________________

D. If you were planning to camp out tomorrow, what type of clothing would you need to keep you comfortable in the weather?
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
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E. What if you were planning to camp out for a week? What types of clothes would you make sure you had?
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
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_______________________________________________

4. His or Her Majesty

Unlike the United States, Europe’s United Kingdom has a monarch, as well as an elected government. This month, the U.K. changed its laws of succession for kings and queens to straightforward primogeniture without consideration of gender. Starting with descendants of Charles, the current Prince of Wales, the throne will pass to the eldest child of the monarch. In the past, the throne went to the eldest son, or the eldest daughter if there were no sons. England’s Queen Elizabeth II, whose father was king, would not be queen now if she had had a brother, even if he were a younger brother. With the new law, if Prince William and his new wife Catherine have a daughter first, she would eventually be queen, even if she had little brothers. If they have son first, he will be king. Read about another change in a law in the news. Write a paragraph in your own words describing how things will work under the new law, compared to how things were in the past. Be sure your writing is clear, so that someone who hasn’t read the original article would still understand what you are talking about.

Core/National Standard: Determining the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative and technical meanings.

5. Jesús García

On November 7, 1907, Mexican hero Jesús García died while trying to keep a trainload of dynamite from exploding in the town of Nacozari. García, the railroad engineer of the train, noticed that hay on top of a car carrying dynamite had caught fire from sparks in the smokestack that had been blown by the wind. He ordered the crew to jump for their lives, and managed to drive the train about 6 kilometers away before it exploded. (He couldn’t abandon the train because it was going uphill and would have rolled back toward the town with no driver.) He was killed instantly, as were some people who lived nearby, but without his quick thinking, many more people would have died. The town is now called Nacozari de García to honor the engineer hero. In the newspaper find a place mentioned in the news that has been named after someone. Then, do some research and write a short biography of the namesake person, citing at least three sources.

Core/National Standard: Conducting short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.