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For Grades K-4 , week of Oct. 17, 2016

1. A Candidate Visit

Election Day is just three weeks away in the race for president, and the candidates are traveling all over the country looking for support. When candidates visit a community, people want to show them things they are proud of, and also things that need attention from the government. As a class, discuss things your community is proud of or doing well, and things that need attention. Use the newspaper and Internet to read more about these things. Then write a letter to the editor telling Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump about the things you would want them to see if they came to visit — and why.

Common Core State Standards: 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.

2. New African American Museum

America’s first national museum dedicated to African American history and culture has opened on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, and his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, spoke at the museum’s opening ceremony. Millions of people contributed to the $315 million raised in private funding to create the museum located just steps away from the White House and the famous Washington Monument. The new National Museum of African American History and Culture celebrates the achievements of African Americans, but also puts a spotlight on the struggles they have experienced. In teams or pairs, search the newspaper or Internet for examples of African Americans being successful or facing struggles. Read about one success or struggle. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining what this example could teach people about the lives, experiences or successes of African Americans.

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.

3. It’s a ‘Potter Festival’

It’s Harry Potter week at select theaters all over the country this week. All eight “Harry Potter” films are being screened at chosen Imax theaters to celebrate the opening next month of the newest J.K Rowling release, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Some theaters have featured special presentations and in-person appearances by “Potter” stars in the weeklong “Potter Festival.” Even more special for “Potter” fans is the fact the first two films in the series — “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” — are being shown in Imax theaters for the first time. The “Harry Potter” movie series has been one of the most popular ever, totaling more than $7.7 billion in ticket sales around the world. About $216 million of those tickets were for shows in Imax theaters. As a class, discuss movies like “Harry Potter” that you have seen and enjoyed with your family. Then draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper, showing what you and your family liked about one movie you saw together.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.

4. Pythons Target Wildlife

Burmese pythons are extending their range in south Florida and putting more wildlife at risk. Hatchlings have been discovered for the first time in Key Largo on the Florida Keys at the state’s southern tip, and a 10-foot python has been found in western Palm Beach County, indicating the snakes may also have moved to the northernmost Everglades. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports that this is the first evidence that the big snakes, which can swim, have established a breeding population in Florida. Many of the snakes were pets that were illegally set free in the Everglades when they got too big. When a new species finds its way into a habitat, it is called an “invasive species” because it invades the area and causes problems. The Burmese python is an example of an invasive species. As a class, find and closely read a story about another invasive species. Use what you read to discuss and debate what people should do to deal with the invasive species. Finish by writing out an “action plan” for dealing with this invasive species.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

5. Arctic Sea Ice Shrinking

Sea ice is frozen ocean water that melts each summer, and freezes each winter. But in the Arctic region around the Earth’s North Pole, the amount of sea ice has been steadily shrinking in recent years. In fact, it has shrunk to its second lowest level ever, threatening native Inuit communities of people and wildlife such as polar bears and walruses. “Specialized Arctic species, such as the polar bear, [are] showing signs of stress,” the World Wildlife Fund reports. Other species are moving into Arctic areas because the waters are getting warmer, upsetting the balance of the area’s ecosystem. The shrinking of sea ice has been caused by global warming caused by humans, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another effect of global warming. Use what you read to write three haiku poems about the effect on wildlife or a habitat. A haiku has five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second and five syllables in the third. The lines do not need to rhyme.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

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