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For Grades K-4 , week of Dec. 12, 2016

1. High-Tech Burger Orders

In recent months, McDonald’s has been moving to high-tech, self-service ordering in many restaurants. Now the burger company has announced it will expand self-serve ordering plus table service to all of its 14,000 restaurants in the United States. Once you order at one of the sleek, vertical touchscreens, you can take a seat, and a server will be electronically guided to deliver the order to you. You’ll still be able to order food the old-fashioned way at the counter, but the new system is designed to address one of the company’s biggest customer problems — slow food delivery because there are so many items on the menu. Restaurants and other businesses are always looking for new ways to do things that customers will like. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a business trying something new. Use what you read to write a paragraph discussing what is being tried and whether you think it will make the business more popular. Write a second paragraph suggesting other things you think the business could do to attract more customers.

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.

2. Ice Bucket Award

In the last couple years, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has gotten a huge amount of attention by getting people to pour ice water over their heads to raise money for medical research. In 2014 it raised more than $220 million for research to end amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease for the baseball star who died from it. Now the athlete who came up with the idea is getting national recognition. Former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates will receive the 2017 Inspiration Award from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for his unusual idea to raise funds for research with ice water. At age 27, Frates was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that weakens muscles and makes it hard to function physically. Since then he has devoted his life to finding a cure. The Ice Bucket Challenge was an unusual idea for raising money for a good cause. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another cause, group or issue that could use support. In teams or alone, brainstorm a way to raise money for this cause in an unusual way. Write a letter to the editor, explaining your idea.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. Huge Maine Park

President Obama has set aside more than 87,500 acres of land in the state of Maine as the nation’s newest parkland, the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The new park area will be run by the National Park Service with rules that will prevent new mining and drilling, and limit other commercial activities. The land was donated by the family that owns the Burt’s Bees company that makes skin and health products. Creation of the parkland has been opposed by interests concerned how restricting use of the land would affect local businesses. Supporters argue that it will actually create jobs and business activity through tourism and recreation. National parks and national monument areas give people a chance to experience and learn about natural areas first hand. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a national park or national monument. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a movie or short video showing how people could have fun and learn about the area by visiting. Then write an outline for the opening scene, including images you would show.

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.

4. Big Palace Repairs

Home repairs can be expensive, but when the home is a palace they can be very costly indeed. Work that’s needed for the home of Queen Elizabeth II of England could cost as much as $458 million, officials estimate — or 369 million pounds in British money. Queen Elizabeth will remain in residence at Buckingham Palace in the city of London as the work is done in several phases over 10 years. Miles of aging cables, lead pipes and electrical wiring will be replaced, much of it for the first time in 60 years. An independent report had concluded that without this work, there was a risk of serious damage to the historic building and its valuable contents. Buildings and public facilities like roads often need repair. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a building or facility being repaired in your community or state. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing what is being done, why it is needed and what the biggest challenges are to success.

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. India Bans Fireworks

In the Asian nation of India, fireworks are set off at many major holidays. But the smoke from fireworks contributes to air pollution, and that is a big problem. Last month in the region of Delhi around the nation’s capital, smoke from fireworks at a Hindu festival helped push up pollution levels to 16 times what the Indian government considers safe. The pollution was so thick that schools were shut. In response, India’s Supreme Court has banned the sale of fireworks in the Delhi region, even though producing fireworks is a major business in the area. A nationwide ban on fireworks is also being considered. Public health and safety are big concerns in every community. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a health or safety issue that is important to students and families. Use what you read to design a public service ad for the newspaper, highlighting the top things families should know about this issue.

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.