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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Mar. 05, 2012

1. Alphabet Sports

One of the first things you learn in school is the alphabet. And putting things in alphabetical order is a skill that will help you all through life. Turn to the sports section in the newspaper and find the standings of your favorite sports league. Put the names of the teams into alphabetical order. Then pick your favorite letter and find 10 words that begin with that letter. Put those words into alphabetical order, too. Put both lists together and put the combined list into alphabetical order. Then write a sentence explaining a way alphabetical order can help people in life.

Core/National Standard: Acquiring information from multiple sources and then evaluating and organizing it.

2. The 99 Percent vs. the 1 Percent

An online news story told of a waitress in Newport Beach, California, who was shocked when a very wealthy banker tipped her just 1 percent (standard tipping is 10 to 15 percent) and left a note telling her she should get a real job. A picture of the receipt and note was taken by someone nearby, and posted in an online blog. The author of the blog said the tipper, “tips exactly 1 percent every time he feels the server doesn’t sufficiently bow down to his holiness.” The story, however, proved to be a hoax intended to fuel the debate between those who have wealth and those who do not. Find a newspaper story about the 99 percent movement and the nation’s wealthy 1 percent. Write an opinion piece discussing how the movement has changed the national discussion of issues.

Core/National Standards: Supporting claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence; writing fluently for multiple purposes.

3. Women Drivers

Big news came out of Daytona Beach, Florida, last week for two reasons. First, the famous Daytona 500 auto race had a rain delay for the first time in its 53-year history. Second, it wasn’t male drivers grabbing the headlines, but female driver Danica Patrick. Patrick has been making headlines for several years in her quest to become a great auto racer, and won the pole position at this year’s Daytona. But Patrick isn’t the first woman to try her hand at racing. On March 7, 1938, female racing pioneer Janet Guthrie was born in Iowa City, Iowa. She earned a degree in physics and worked as an aeronautical engineer before pursuing auto racing full time. She was the first woman to compete in NASCAR’s Winston Cup and Daytona 500. She also was the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500. For Women’s History Month, find a newspaper story about a woman blazing new trails. As a class, discuss the difference women are making in their communities, the country or the world.

Core/National Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; analyzing how feminist movements and social conditions have affected the lives of women and their progress toward social equality, economic opportunity and political rights.

4. Doing What’s Hard

Every day kids do courageous things. They walk away from a fight. They don’t cave in to peer pressure. They push themselves way beyond what they think they could do. For 12-year-old Alex Rodriguez of Shelbyville, Tennessee, being brave meant walking away from any more cancer treatment. Alex began battling cancer at 7 years old. He chose to go home and be with his family for the time he has left. According to an ABC News story, he suffers from a rare type of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. Doctors performed surgery on his back and gave him radiation and chemotherapy. The treatments worked for two years, but the cancer came back. The only treatment available now is in Texas, but Alex said he would rather stay in Tennessee with his family. Search your newspaper for a young person showing great bravery. Or find an example online. Write a summary of the story.

Core/National Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to task, purpose and audience.

5. Face Time for Apes

A Yahoo! News story recently showed an orangutan peering intently at an iPad. An animal conservation group is testing its “Apps for Apes” program, which will allow the orangutans in zoos to communicate via video chat. Orangutan Outreach founder Richard Zimmerman said the apes are extremely intelligent and need mental stimulation during long winter months, when they spend a great deal of time inside due to bad weather. Search the newspaper for a story about ways technology is being used with animals or in research experiments. Or find an example online. Write a summary of the article you find and describe its most important points. Then write a paragraph describing how you would like to see technology used to help animals.

Core/National Standard: Writing narratives using effective techniques, well-chosen details and a well-structured event sequence.