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For Grades 5-8 , week of May 02, 2016

1. Apology to Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson is considered a hero today for being the first African American to play Major League Baseball in modern times. But not everyone thought he was a hero when he entered the Major Leagues in 1947. In fact, the city of Philadelphia has apologized, belatedly, for the hostile and racist treatment Robinson received there when his Brooklyn Dodgers played the Phillies in 1947. In Brooklyn and at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park, the superstar was subjected to slurs from Phillies players encouraged by manager Ben Chapman, and from Phillies fans. Last month, the Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed a resolution to be sent to Robinson’s 93-year-old widow, declaring April 15 Jackie Robinson Day and apologizing “for the racism he experienced as a player while visiting Philadelphia.” Jackie Robinson had to have strong character to endure insults as the first African American in the modern major leagues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a newsmaker today who displays strong character. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, stating why this person’s character could be an inspiration or role model for other people.

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. Pollinators Threatened

The birds and the bees — and other species that pollinate and promote the growth of fruits, nuts and vegetables — could soon face extinction, according to a warning from an international United Nations group. The 124-nation group says pollinators are threatened by pesticides, parasites, pathogens and aggressive agricultural practices that grow crops on every available acre, eliminating the wildflowers and cover crops on which pollinators feed. Climate change has an effect, too, one of the experts noted, particularly on bumblebees. Human actions often have an effect on plants, habitats and wildlife species. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about human activities that are having an effect on plants, wildlife or habitats. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short creative story calling attention to the situation. Write an outline for your story and give it a title. Then write the opening scene.

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.

3. Stolen Treasures Returned

Hundreds of looted ancient treasures have been returned to the European nation of Italy before they could be sold to collectors in the United States, Japan and Britain. The archaeological artifacts from the 7th to 2nd centuries BCE, were found in a storage facility in the neighboring nation of Switzerland and brought back to Rome, Italy. The pieces included Roman and Etruscan sarcophagus pieces, bronze objects, stone sculptures and painted terra cotta fragments from a 2,600-year-old temple. The warehouse was run by an artifacts dealer from London, England, but he will not be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has run out on possible crimes for which he was investigated. He does face a civil suit for the return of other works. Officials all over the world are trying to crack down on the looting of antiquities from archaeological sites. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts to stop the looting and sale of antiquities. Use what you read to prepare a multi media presentation for the class, explaining different approaches that have been tried, how they have worked and approaches that might be tried in the future.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; 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.

4. Solar Panels at Clinics

Solar panels have been installed at 32 health-care clinics in the Gaza Strip in the Middle East to ensure that vaccines and drugs remain refrigerated in the power-starved Palestinian territory. Disagreements between the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas Islamic organization had left Gaza’s only power plant functioning at reduced capacity in the territory that borders the Mideast nation of Israel. Through the International Red Cross, each clinic received a six-panel solar unit capable of producing about 1,500 megawatts of power. Disagreements and conflicts are common in the Middle East due to tense relations between different countries and political factions within those countries. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a disagreement or conflict in the Middle East. Use what you read to write a summary of the conflict, what caused it, what can be done to address it and whether outside nations such as the United States should play a role.

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.

5. WWII Boat Back on Water

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, is restoring a patrol torpedo (PT) boat that earned renown by carrying U.S. commandos to French shores and sinking two armored German supply barges during the war. Officials hope to have PT-305 back on the water in about a year, carrying tourists on Lake Pontchartrain, where it was first tested in 1944. PT-305 is one of just 10 PT boats still in existence, and is the same kind of craft commanded by future President John F. Kennedy in World War II. The restoration will install three engines, update plumbing and electrical systems and return the boat to its original 78-foot length (it had been cut down to 60 feet for use as a tour boat and as an oyster boat on Chesapeake Bay). President Kennedy’s PT 109 boat was cut in half by a Japanese destroyer and Kennedy won fame for leading his surviving crew members to safety. The restoration of PT-305 and other World War II vessels gives people of today a way to better understand the equipment used to fight in the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a museum or other attraction that helps people better understand the past. Use what you read to design a series of ads for the newspaper, showcasing what people could learn at the museum or attraction, and why the experience would be valuable.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.


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