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For Grades K-4 , week of Nov. 14, 2016

1. A Historic President

When he takes office on January 20, Republican Donald Trump will make history as the first person elected to be president of the United States without ever having served in public office or the U.S. military. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by winning states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that usually have supported Democrats for president in the past. Between now and Inauguration Day on January 20, Trump will be planning what things he wants to do first when he takes over from President Barack Obama, who could not run for re-election because he already has been elected to two four-year terms. As a class, closely read stories about what President-elect Trump is saying about the things he wants to do in his first year as president. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, giving your views on what you think he should do first.

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

2. Chinese Space Mission

Two astronauts from the Asian nation of China have settled in on an experimental space station orbiting the Earth. The pair will spend 30 days on the Tiangong 2 space station, about twice as much time as China’s longest mission up to now. The astronauts will conduct experiments in medicine and technology, and test systems and processes in preparation for the launch of the station’s core module in 2018. The Tiangong 2 station is not expected to be completed for six years and will run for at least a decade. China’s space program is a source of enormous national pride, with 20 missions planned for this year alone. Space programs are always looking for new ways for people to do things in space. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read about a space mission in which people are doing something new. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips, showing what new things people are doing on the mission and what that is teaching scientists about space.

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. Church Bells Too Noisy?

A town in the European nation of Spain has warned an ancient church, Our Lady of the Assumption, that it faces a $17,500 (16,000 Euro) fine because its bells are “too noisy.” The parish priest says he has no idea how the church in the small town of Mostoles could afford such a fine. The priest says the bells have always tolled at the same volume, which has been determined to be about 30 decibels above the 55 decibels now permitted by the town. Technicians measured the loudness of the bells in response to complaints from residents. The church built in the Middle Ages is more than 600 years old. Communities often pass rules to control such things as noise, traffic, pollution or how people behave in public. As a class, discuss rules your community has, or rules you think it should adopt. Then use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about a rule your community has, or one that is needed. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor commenting on how the rule is working, or why it is needed.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Dam Threatens Fish, Wildlife

Despite the pleas of neighboring countries, the Southeast Asian nation of Laos is proceeding with plans to build a dam on the Mekong River. The dam will threaten fish populations that are a source of food for millions of poor Southeast Asians. The site of the Don Sahong dam near the Laos-Cambodia border is also among the few habitats left that are home to the endangered Irawaddy dolphin. The dam will suck in as much as half the river’s water during the dry season to generate electric power through hydroelectric turbines. The 3,000-mile-long river winds through six countries on its way from the region of Tibet in China to Vietnam and the South China Sea. Human activities and construction projects often have an impact on natural environments or habitats. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a project or activity that is affecting a natural environment. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing the effect the project is having on the environment. Then write a second paragraph describing whether you think local leaders should take action to reduce the effects on the environment.

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.

5. Kelp Forests in Peril

Kelp are a type of fast-growing, wavy seaweed that provide habitats for thousands of species of fish and marine life. But along Australia’s 1,400-mile Great Southern Reef, kelp are in trouble. Nearly all the kelp “forests” along about 62 miles of coastline have died out and become extinct, a new study reveals. A 2011 heat wave killed almost half the kelp, and there are no signs of recovery, researchers report in the journal Science. This die-off shows how just a slight rise in water temperatures can turn an underwater forest teeming with life into a wasteland, the researchers say. The die-off of kelp on the Great Southern Reef is an example of how global warming and climate change are affecting natural habitats. As a class, use the newspaper or Internet to read a story about another effect warming is having on habitats. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short movie or video calling attention to the situation. Write an outline for your video, including images you would use. Then write the opening scene, highlighting the message you want your video to have.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.