Activities  Home  K-4  5-8  9-12   Geo Quiz   Vocabulary Quiz   NewsVideo   Cartoons   Talking Points  Science Webcast 



Additional Resources for Your Classroom



Find over 300 resources that include teacher guides, student supplements, teacher training modules and so much more.

Click here to access instructional material


For Grades 5-8 , week of June 06, 2016

1. ‘Awakening Humanity’

The founder of an orphanage in the African nation of Burundi has been awarded the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity for saving thousands of children from ethnic slaughter in the 1990s. The new prize is worth $100,000, with designated organizations sharing an additional $1 million. It was awarded to orphanage founder Marguerite Barankitse for her heroic work during the violent ethnic conflict between Burundi’s Hutu and Tutsi peoples. Barankitse is a Tutsi, but during the ethnic strife between the Hutus and the Tutsis, she risked violence by sheltering Hutus. She later established an organization providing a haven for orphans of all ethnicities, which she continues to operate and has even expanded to include children living in exile from neighboring Rwanda. Marguerite Barankitse has won worldwide attention for helping others. In the newspaper or online, closely read a story about another person who is helping others. Use what you read to write a short editorial thanking this person for his/her efforts and giving your opinion on how the person’s efforts could inspire others.

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. Weasel vs. Atom Smasher

The Large Hadron Collider is an atom smasher outside Geneva, Switzerland, and one of the world’s most complex machines. Recently, however, it was forced to shut down — by a weasel. The animal got into a transformer that helps power the machine and triggered an electrical outage. The incident was one of several glitches delaying plans to restart the $4.4 billion collider. The European Organization for Nuclear Reseacrh (CERN) had been looking forward to receive new data from the 17-mile circuit running underground on the French-Swiss border. The weasel did not survive the incident. The Hadron Collider is allowing researchers to gain new scientific knowledge about atoms and the energy they contain. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about other scientific discoveries or advances that researchers have achieved. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing one advance, why it is important and whom it will benefit.

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. Playground Head Injuries

Despite improvements in playground safety and design, playground-related brain injuries are rising significantly in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Between 2001 and 2013, emergency rooms treated an average of 21,000 kids annually among children 14 and younger. The researchers have not provided an exact reason for the increase in emergency room visits, but they say in the journal Pediatrics that increased awareness of concussions could be contributing. Monkey bars, playground gyms and swings are cited most often in the report as sources of head injuries. Playground safety is an issue that affects children and families. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read other stories about playground safety or another children’s safety issue. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short video or film examining one safety issue. Write an outline for your video, including images you would use. Then write the first scene in the form of a movie screenplay.

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.

4. Unconstitutional Cross

The San Gabriel Mission is depicted on the official seal of Los Angeles County in California, but now it is shown without the cross that sits at the top of it. And it’s staying that way, a federal judge has ruled. The county supervisors had voted to add the Christian cross in the interests of historical accuracy, since San Gabriel was a Christian mission. But U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder ruled that it violated the U.S. Constitution by “plac[ing] the county’s power, prestige and purse behind a single religion, Christianity.” Her ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed two years ago by the American Civil Liberties Union. The cross was removed when the 1957 seal was redesigned in 2004, because the ACLU threatened legal action, but in 2014, the county supervisors voted to restore it. There has been much debate on portrayals of religious symbols on public buildings or materials, because the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declares that the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” That amendment has been used to support the idea that there should be a “separation of church and state.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about situations involving debate over the separation of government and religion. Use what you read to draw an editorial cartoon giving your opinion about one situation.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. Smoking in China

Chinese men smoke one-third of the world’s cigarettes, scientists in China and Britain have concluded, and a third of all young men in China will eventually die from the habit. In a study published in the Lancet medical journal, scientists estimate that two-thirds of all males in China smoke, and the number is growing. By contrast, smoking rates among women in the Asian nation have dropped sharply. While about 10 percent of older Chinese women smoke, only 1 percent of middle-aged women do. Among teenage girls, however, smoking is increasing in some regions. With 1.4 billion people, the Asian nation of China has the largest population of any nation in the world. It also has many health and safety problems, due to attitudes and habits that have existed for years and neglect of pollution and environmental issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read articles about health and safety problems facing China. Use what you read and images from the newspaper or online to create a multi media presentation highlighting China’s health and safety issues and how they are affecting the Chinese people.

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.