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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Feb. 13, 2012

1. Mapping Out Earthquakes

The San Andreas Fault made a name for itself when it shook San Francisco, California, in 1906 and again in 1989. This major fault runs almost the entire length of the state of California from the northern California coast down through San Bernadino and Palm Springs. It is the fault that many say will produce “the Big One,” a potential magnitude-7.8 earthquake, according to a Yahoo! News LiveScience article. Scientists recently discovered that the fault isn’t a sheer vertical as they had thought, but has a series of dips shaped like propellers. These dips, and how they affect the shaking of a quake, can be studied to help predict the consequences of major earthquakes, researchers said. Find a newspaper article about earthquakes. Or find one online. Research which faults were involved and create a map of the faults.

Core/National Standards: Plotting the locations of volcanoes and earthquakes so that students can see a pattern of geological activity.

2. It's a Grand Flag

On February 15, 1965, Canada adopted a new flag. Canada's old flag, Red Ensign, featured the British Union Jack to highlight its status as a self-governing member of the British Empire. Though one can still find Elizabeth II on Canada's currency, the Canadian Parliament spent years looking for a new design that better reflected the country's independent status. The lawmakers decided to use a maple leaf displayed on a field of red and white—Canada’s colors, according to King George V. The solution featured a local symbol, but subtly indicated Canada's history with England. Read an article about a changing region, country or community in this week's newspaper. Design a flag for the area that highlights its past and its future.

Core/National Standard: Describing and comparing characteristics of states, regions and countries, and explaining the processes that created them; using visual presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

3. My Teacher. My Hero.

On the movie screen, superheroes come in skin-tight outfits of red, blue, black and green. But in real life, heroes come in khakis, polo shirts, skirts and blouses. The Week magazine recently featured a story about eight ordinary people who did something extraordinary. They are teachers who saved the lives of their students. This month a young autistic boy ran onto an icy pond in New Hampshire and fell through the thin ice. His teacher, Gwen Rhodes, ran after him, jumped into the freezing water and pulled him to safety. In Utah, Ron Hansen was in his social studies classroom when he heard a “clap of thunder and a scream.” He found two students had been hit by lightening, and he and another teacher gave them CPR until help arrived. Find a newspaper article about an ordinary person doing something extraordinary. Write a summary of the article, using strong active verbs and descriptive language.

Core/National Standard: Using precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details and sensory language in writing.

4. History Uncovered

Jourdan Anderson escaped slavery, became emancipated, found paid work and made a new life for his family. Then a letter arrived in the mail. It was from his former slave owner, Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee. The colonel wanted Jourdan to come back and work on his farm. Jourdan wrote back to his former owner and that letter recently was discovered and printed in the New York Daily News. In the letter, Jourdan said he was glad the colonel hadn’t forgotten him, but “often felt uneasy about” his former owner. He recounted how the colonel had shot at him twice, harbored Confederacy rebels and killed a Union soldier during the Civil War. He told his former master he would only come back if he was paid back wages for the 32 years of service he had given as a slave. As a class, find a newspaper or Internet article about a historic find. Discuss it as a class and decide why it is significant.

Core/National Standards: Propelling conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence.

5. Drivers, Start Your Engines!

NASCAR drivers are revving their engines and getting ready to kick off a new season of racing. Opening day is February 26 at the Daytona Speedway in Florida. On February 15, 1998, the late, great Dale Earnhardt won his first Daytona 500 race after 20 years of trying. He was one of NASCAR’s heroes, winning 76 races in his career. Sadly, it was at Daytona that Earnhardt lost his life. On February18, 2001, Earnhardt died at age 49 from injuries from a crash during the Daytona 500. Find a newspaper article about a NASCAR driver. Or find one online. Use what you find to write a short fictional account about the driver competing in a race.

Core/National Standards: Using narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing and description to develop experiences, events and/or characters.