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For Grades 5-8 , week of Aug. 01, 2016

1. No Student Begging

Begging is a big problem in the West African nation of Senegal — so big the government is imposing fines and prison sentences on people who send children into the streets to beg for money. The government estimates that more than 30,000 students of Islamic schools are forced by their religious leaders to beg in the streets of the capital city, Dakar. The money is used to support the schools and school leaders. To remedy the problem, Senegal is ordering “emergency removal” of the children from the streets, and has pledged stricter control of the Islamic schools. In many countries children are treated much more harshly than they are in the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about treatment of children in another country that would not be allowed here. Use what you read to write a short editorial for the newspaper, giving your opinion on ways Americans could help reduce the harsh treatment of children in one other country.

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. Women’s Sports Pioneer Dies

One of women’s sports most dominating figures has died. Pat Summitt coached women’s basketball for 38 seasons at the University of Tennessee, earning 1,008 victories and eight national women’s basketball championships. She stepped down from coaching at age 59 in 2012, when she learned she had Alzheimer’s disease. At Tennessee Summitt won more games than any other Division 1 college coach — male or female — and she also led medal-winning U.S. teams in two Olympics. She helped transform women’s college basketball from a sport ignored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association into one that now draws national TV audiences for its NCAA championship tournament. Women today have many more opportunities in sports — and are having great impact. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a woman who is successful in sports as a player or coach. Pretend you are a news reporter who has been given the assignment to interview this woman. Write out 10 questions you would like to ask this standout woman, and why you’d like to know her answers.

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.

3. Penguins Imperiled

Having survived harsh Antarctic conditions for nearly 45,000 years, Adelie penguins have proven incredibly resilient. But new research suggests that current climate change — much of it caused by humans — may wipe out many of their colonies. Warmer water temperatures have caused great sheets of sea ice to melt, altering the penguins’ habitat in Antarctica and reducing fish populations on which they feed. Though the penguins need warm periods to return to their rocky breeding grounds, the new study has found that overly long warm periods may be shrinking their habitat, leading to a population decline. Researchers quoted in National Geographic magazine believe the warming seas also are causing changes in precipitation patterns that reduce the quality of the penguins’ nesting sites. Climate change is having an effect on wildlife all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effect of climate change on wildlife. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a public service TV ad or video about the effect. Make a list of images you would use to tell the story in your ad or video. List them in the order you would use them. Write a sentence for each, explaining why it is important to the story you are telling.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

4. Sunscreen Less Effective

Your sunscreen may not protect your skin as much as you think it does. Though regulators updated labeling standards four years ago, tests have shown that many sunscreens still provide far less protection than advertised. That is increasingly important because studies have shown that too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can lead to skin cancer, including deadly melanoma. The American Cancer Society forecasts there will be about 76,380 new melanoma cases diagnosed in the U.S. this year, and as many as 10,030 of the cases will be fatal. The Cancer Society recommends that sun lovers protect themselves by learning how to choose a sunscreen, how to apply it and ways to best use it to reduce the risks of too much sun. Sunscreen is a product designed to protect people, but labels and packaging often don’t give full information about its effectiveness. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories and ads about another product that is supposed to protect people. Pretend you are writing the packaging information for the product. Make a list of information you would be sure to include, and why.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

5. Ikea Recalling Dressers

Ikea is recalling millions of dressers that can tip over and have been blamed for the deaths of six children. The dressers, which can fall over if not fastened to the floor or wall, underwent a special repair program last year after being linked to the deaths of two toddlers. Now four other deaths have convinced Ikea “that taking further action is the right thing to do.” The chain says it’s been in “close contact” with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission about how to remedy the hazard. Last year, as part of the repair program the company provided new kits to attach the dressers to the wall for customers who hadn’t used the original hardware. Events or changes in public attitudes often force businesses to change the way they do things. In the newspaper or online, closely read a story about a business making such a change. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, explaining the change and giving your opinion of whether you think it is a good idea.

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; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.