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for Grades K-4

Feb. 01, 2016
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For Grades K-4 , week of Feb. 01, 2016

1. Mars Rover

When the NASA space agency launched the Mars rover called Opportunity, it expected the U.S. vehicle to last three months. Twelve years later, it’s still going strong. While its lifespan is impressive, the rover is also impressing scientists with the information it continues to send back to Earth. Opportunity has traveled 26.5 miles on Mars, farther than any other robot in space. It is now exploring the 14-mile-wide crater named Endeavour. To keep it powered up, NASA must make sure its solar panels are angled toward the sun during daylight hours to collect energy from sunlight. Mars is the next planet out from Earth in the solar system. Space missions help scientists understand the solar system and its planets. As a class, read about a space mission in the newspaper or on the website www.nasa.gov. Use what you read to write a short paragraph describing what the mission hopes to achieve. Then draw a picture showing something the mission has done already.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

2. Lizard Now a Class Pet

A New Jersey kindergarten student found a three-inch-long green anole lizard in his salad — cold and motionless after being confined in a refrigerator for days. Now, after being warmed up and put in a cage, it’s his class’s pet. Anole lizards are cold-blooded and slow down their bodies in cold temperatures, like a computer going to sleep. When the temperature warms up, the lizards get active again. The lizard in New Jersey was found in a bundle of greens from Florida. The store where the greens were purchased said it must have been tucked inside a leaf when the greens were cleaned. The class has named the lizard “Green Fruit Loop.” In the newspaper or online, find and read about a small, safe animal you would like as a class pet. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing things the pet might do. Or draw a series of comics showing the “Green Fruit Loop” lizard in action.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. Teams Snowbound

Buses carrying the Temple University women’s gymnastics team and the Duquesne University men’s basketball team were among more than 500 vehicles stranded for more than 24 hours on the Pennsylvania Turnpike during the Blizzard of 2016 on January 23. The buses and other vehicles were caught in a construction bottleneck and blocked by snowdrifts about 80 miles east of the city of Pittsburgh. The trapped vehicles had to be slowly turned around and directed out of the mess by state highway workers using heavy equipment. The Temple women were trapped on the way to a gymnastics meet at the University of Pittsburgh. They passed the time playing games, watching videos and tweeting their friends on smart phones. The Duquesne men were on their way home to Pittsburgh after a victory over George Mason University in Virginia. Both buses had bathrooms. Severe weather is often in the news during the winter months. Find and closely read a story about severe weather in the newspaper or online. Use what you read to write a short poem, rap or rhyme titled “Dealing with Weather.” Your poems can be serious or funny.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

4. More Plastics than Fish

The use of plastics is increasing and a group called the World Economic Forum reports about 8 million tons a year ends up in the world’s oceans. An estimated 165 million tons is already in the oceans, and by 2050, scientists predict, there will be more plastics in the oceans (by weight) than fish. Getting more people to recycle plastics could reduce the problem, scientists say. So would developing plastics that would break down naturally. Plastics in the ocean are a form of pollution that damages the environment. As a class, use the newspaper or Internet to find and read a story about another kind of pollution that could hurt the environment. Use what you read to design a poster or newspaper ad, telling people about this pollution, and what they could do to reduce it. Print or clip images from the newspaper to use in your poster or ad.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

5. NFL Know, Wonder & Learn

This year’s Super Bowl will take place Sunday, February 7 in Santa Clara, California. In the game, the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos football teams will compete for the NFL’s top prize. Following the NFL in the newspaper is a great way to build reading skills if you use the approach called Know, Wonder and Learn. With this approach, called KWL for short, you ask yourself questions every time you read something. First, you ask what you already KNOW about the subject. Then you ask what you WONDER or WANT TO KNOW about the subject. Then you read and ask what you have LEARNED about the subject by reading. Practice KWL by finding a short story in the newspaper about the Super Bowl. Write out what you already KNOW about the subject of the story. Then write what you WONDER or WANT TO KNOW about the subject of the story. Then read the story and write what you LEARNED about the subject of the story by reading.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.