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For Grades K-4 , week of Feb. 06, 2017

1. Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and communities across the nation are celebrating the achievements of African Americans. Those achievements are happening in all fields — and are influencing all parts of American culture. Search today’s newspaper to find African Americans influencing news and culture in different fields. See if you can find (1.) an African American politician, (2.) an African American athlete who led a team to victory, (3.) an African American woman who is a leader, (4.) a business owned by an African American, (5.) a TV show with an African American cast, (6.) an African American musician, and (7.) an African American newspaper writer or columnist. As a class, discuss these people and how they could inspire others by their achievements.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Cough Medicine Risks

Many over-the-counter cough medicines are dangerous for children, according to a warning from the nation’s children’s doctors through the American Academy of Pediatrics. The reason is that they contain the drug codeine, which can cause life-threatening or fatal breathing reactions in some children, according to growing research. The children’s doctors group is urging parents and healthcare providers to stop giving kids codeine. At the same time, alternatives also have risks, the group says in a report published in the medical journal Pediatrics. In the winter months, sales of cough medicines increase because kids and families get sick from colds or the flu. As a class or in groups, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories explaining ways people can stay healthy during the winter. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a TV ad offering tips for “Staying Healthy.” Write an outline for your ad, including what images you would use.

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. ‘Good Morning’ in Wales

If the Welsh language is spoken by fewer and fewer people, it’s through no fault of the Chateau Rhianfa hotel on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales. Guests there can receive two 90-minute courses taught by a Welsh language expert. Not only can they learn how to pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgigerychwyrndriobwiloloiantysiliogoigohoch (Europe’s longest place name), they’ll learn more practical phrases like like “bore da” (“good morning”). Wales is part of the United Kingdom, which also includes England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom is usually referred to as Britain, or Great Britain. It is a strong ally and supporter of the United States. As a class, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about Great Britain. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining why the news would be important to the people or government of the United States.

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.

4. High Tech Prescriptions

When patients need drugs for illness, doctors, dentists and other health care professionals write prescriptions that tell drug stores what the patients need. For years, those prescriptions were written by hand on pads of paper. But in the state of New York, a new law requires that doctors send them to drug stores electronically, instead of giving paper prescriptions to patients to be filled. The change is part of the nation’s toughest electronic prescription law, which aims to fight painkiller abuse by stopping people from writing fake prescriptions. It also seeks to eliminate errors caused by sloppy handwriting by doctors. Technology is changing the way people do many things. In the newspaper or online, find an ad or story about technology being used in a new way. Study the ad or read the story closely. Then write a paragraph explaining how the technology is improving the way people do things.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Deadly Algae

The Ohio River has a long history of pollution problems, and now it has a new one. Polluted for years by mining waste, industrial waste and sewage, the river now must deal with carpets of poisonous algae. Last summer the algae spread over nearly two-thirds of the 981-mile river. It forced swimmers out of the water, caused boat race cancellations and put water utilities on alert over 636 miles from West Virginia to Illinois. The algae bloom is fed by phosphate and nitrate chemicals that are washed into the river by rain from fertilized farm fields, cattle feedlots and leaky sewage systems. If eaten, the poison in the algae causes stomach problems, vomiting, diarrhea and liver damage, and has even killed some animals that drink water containing it. Pollution is a problem in many communities because it contaminates air, water and land areas. As a class, use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read a story about one form of pollution. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, giving your opinion about how the community could reduce or end this pollution.

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.