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May 18, 2015
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For Grades K-4 , week of May 18, 2015

1. E-books for Kids

In an effort to help American students become better readers, school children from low-income families soon will have access to electronic e-books, thanks to a $250 million program announced by President Obama. The federal government will work with local libraries to provide children with the necessary technology to enjoy about 10,000 e-books on computers or hand-held devices. Titles from numerous book companies will be selected for the program by volunteers from the Digital Public Library of America. The program is inspired by concern that some 80 percent of low-income children are behind the rest of their grade in reading skills, and many of them don’t have books at home. The nation’s libraries are eager to get more kids reading. As a class, discuss books you have read that you would recommend to other students your age. Make up a master list to share with other classes. Then draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper showing ways that reading e-books can help students have fun and learn about interesting subjects.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Call Her Princess Charlotte

In the European nation of Great Britain, the newest member of the royal family is still a tiny baby, but she has a very big name. The new daughter of Prince William and his wife Kate has been named Charlotte Elizabeth Diana — or Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Princess Charlotte is fourth in line to the British throne, right behind her big brother, 2-year-old Prince George. Charlotte is the feminine form of Charles, which was the name of two former kings and of her grandfather, the Prince of Wales. The current British monarch is Charlotte’s great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, who has been queen for 63 years. The United States has a long history with Great Britain, and was part of Britain before becoming independent in 1776. Great Britain today is one of the United States’ strongest supporters among other nations. As a class, find and closely read a story about travel or life in Great Britain in the newspaper or online. Use what you read to write a paragraph giving reasons you would like to travel to Great Britain.

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.

3. Asthma Cure?

Scientists say they have discovered what causes the breathing disease asthma and have also figured out what drugs could cure it. British researchers have identified which cells cause the airways to narrow in asthma attacks that are triggered by irritants like pollution, according to a report in the journal Science Translational Medicine. They also note that drugs already exist that could deactivate those cells. The drugs are now used to treat bone disease, and researchers predict that in five years or so “we could … stop asthma from happening.” Asthma is one of the most common childhood diseases and affects an estimated 7.1 million children under 18 years old. Many children have to carry inhalers to help them breathe during asthma attacks. Health issues often are in the news. As a class, find and read a story about a health issue that affects kids your age or other family members. Use what you read to write a short letter to the editor of the newspaper, outlining key points families should know about this issue. Write a headline for your letter that would attract attention.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; closely reading what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

4. Stuck in the Wall

Trying to avoid arrest, a man in the Asian nation of India squeezed down a narrow hole in his attic floor to hide from police — but got stuck in the wall. He was wedged in for about a day in his 16-inch-wide hiding place before a visitor found him and called firefighters, who rescued him. That was the good news. After he was rescued, he was arrested by police and sent to the county jail. Newspapers and online sites often publish stories about weird or odd news events because people find them interesting. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about such an event or situation. Write the words “That’s Weird” down the side of a sheet of paper. Use each letter in the words to start a phrase or sentence explaining why the news would interest some readers. Draw a picture of your weird news event. Make it “weird” if you like.

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

5. Safer Drinking Water

Four U.S. agencies have joined forces to use information collected from outer space to combat a problem that can affect the taste and odor of Americans’ drinking water. The effort will use data collected by space satellites to keep track of blooms of algae plant life. Algae blooms are an environmental problem that can cause health risks and kill fish, as well as affect drinking water. The new $3.6 million effort will use satellite data to get early warnings of toxic algae blooms in fresh water. The project is an example of how “the vantage point of space … helps improve lives around the world,” according to an official of America’s NASA space agency. NASA is one of the four U.S. agencies taking part in the project, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey. Environmental problems like algae blooms are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and read a story about people dealing with an environmental problem. Use what you read to write a short editorial for the newspaper, detailing what people are doing, whether it is working and other things you think should be tried.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; closely reading what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.


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