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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Feb. 27, 2012

1. Putting a Story Together

When writing a newspaper story, a journalist can approach the story in a number of ways. For example, when writing a feature story about two people, the journalist might choose to intertwine their stories, or write it from a perspective of relational cause and effect, or present it as a timeline of events. News stories often are written in the more traditional pyramid fashion, with the most important facts at the top of the story. In pairs or teams, find several news and feature stories from your newspaper and evaluate their story structures. Then pick one feature story and one news story that you think were effectively structured and explain why to the class.

Core/National Standard: Analyzing the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of ideas.

2. Dear You ...

Advice columns are a fun and informative part of the newspaper. Use an advice column in today's paper as a model, and pretend you have a question that needs answering. Write down your question on a sheet of paper. Exchange questions with someone else and write answers to each other’s questions.

Core/National Standard: Describing and using characteristics of various narrative genres and elements of narrative technique to convey ideas and perspectives.

3. Terrorism Foiled

Umar Farouk Abdulmatallab is no Captain Underpants. But the 25-year-old Nigerian man, known as the Underwear Bomber, did use his underpants to try to blow up an airplane traveling from the European city of Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day 2009. A bomb hidden in his underpants failed to go off and badly burned Abdulmutallab. Recently, a U.S. federal judge in Detroit sentenced Abdulmatallab to life in prison for the failed terrorist attempt. In court Abdulmatallab said he was on a suicide mission for the terrorist organization al Qaeda and was “proud to kill in the name of God.” Abdulmatallab is the son of a wealthy banker and was educated in Europe. He told government officials that he had trained with al Qaeda leaders in the Middle East country of Yemen. According to the Associated Press, his ability to evade security in Amsterdam led to the use of full-body scans in American airports. With the newspaper or Internet, find an article about terrorism and its impact on the United States. Discuss the article as a class and explore the reasons for terrorism.

Core/National Standard: Analyzing why terrorist movements have proliferated and the extent of their impact on politics and society in various countries.

4. Boosting Nature’s Processes

When Mother Nature doesn’t fit the modern world’s timetable, scientists look for ways to speed things up. That is what scientists are doing with photosynthesis, which they say has the potential to yield vast amounts of power in the form of biofuels. According to an Agence France-Presse article, scientist Anne Jones of Arizona State University said photosynthesis, which uses sunlight to create organic chemical compounds in plants, is not very efficient. But photosynthesis efficiency “could be boosted to increase sustainable biofuel production,” she said. Now scientists are looking at enzymes that could increase the efficiency of photosynthesis, which could increase the growth rate of plants and speed up the production of biofuels from plant materials. Find a newspaper article about scientists working to improve a natural process. Or find one online. Discuss the goals of the scientific research and write a clear, concise summary in one paragraph.

Core/National Standards: Effectively engaging in a range of collaborative discussions; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to the task.

5. A Golden Story Problem

A construction worker in France was doing work on a ceiling in an old office and suddenly found himself being showered with gold. He and his fellow workers ended up finding nearly $1 million in gold coins that had been stashed away in the ceiling of the office years ago. Altogether, 497 coins were found. To determine how much those gold coins are worth today, experts had to do a math story problem. If an ounce of gold is worth $1,920.30, each gold coin weighs 1.03 ounces, and a total of 497 coins were found, how much are the coins worth altogether? Find a newspaper story about money and write your own story problem.

Core/National Standards: Using multiplication and division to solve word problems in situations involving equal groups, arrays and measurement quantities