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 Aug. 08, 2016

1. Smokey Robinson Honored

In American music, Smokey Robinson has been one of the most popular performers of Motown and rhythm and blues music. For his lifetime of achievements, he is also going to be this year’s winner of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. A songwriter and producer as well as a singer, Robinson will receive the award in November in ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The Gershwin Prize is given to artists who exemplify the “standard of excellence” set by George and Ira Gershwin for promoting “song as a vehicle of cultural understanding, entertaining and informing audiences, and inspiring new generations.” Winners before the 76-year-old Robinson include Willie Nelson, Carole King and Paul McCartney. Singers and songwriters make great contributions to a nation’s culture by capturing the spirit of their time and commenting on important issues. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a singer or songwriter you like. Think about why you like him or her. Then use what you read and prior knowledge to write a music review for the newspaper, detailing the contribution this artist is making to today’s culture.

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. Return of Looted Artifacts

Archaeological artifacts looted from Italy will be returned to the European nation by the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek art museum in Copenhagen, Denmark. The artifacts include the contents of a princely tomb excavated near Fara, Italy, north of Rome, and sold to the Danish museum in the 1970s. Italian officials said the original deal had been brokered by an American charged with selling looted art, but for years the museum resisted demands for the artifacts’ return. In agreeing to return them, the museum acknowledged the original excavations had been illegal. Discoveries of ancient artifacts are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such a discovery. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining why the discovery is important and what it reveals about ancient life.

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.

3. Spacecraft Orbiting Jupiter

An unmanned American spacecraft has successfully gone into orbit around the planet Jupiter, and it has started sending back photos of the solar system’s largest planet. The maneuver to enter orbit ended a five-year journey that promises to yield new information about Jupiter and its moons. To settle into orbit, the Juno spacecraft had to dive through intense barrages of radiation and brake from speeds of 130,000 miles per hour as it passed 2,900 miles above the planet’s clouds. Scientists hope Juno will provide clues to the early history of our solar system, since Jupiter may have been the first planet to form. The $1.1 billion mission will end in February 2018 after 37 orbits of Jupiter, when Juno will be crashed into Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Jupiter is 300 times more massive than the planet Earth. The Juno spacecraft had to overcome many obstacles to reach Jupiter, and continues to face obstacles as it orbits the planet. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about obstacles and challenges faced by the Juno mission. Use what you read and images from the newspaper or Internet to design a poster illustrating challenges that Juno has faced and overcome. Write text for each challenge, explaining how it was met.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

4. Locusts to Sniff Bombs?

Locusts are insects with a remarkable sense of smell, and now military researchers want to put that skill to use. The U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research has awarded Washington University professors a three-year $750,000 grant to develop locusts that can sniff out bombs. Locusts have a highly sensitive olfactory system that is thousands of times more complex than the best chemical detection devices available. The bomb-sniffing would work through a small electrode implanted into the locust’s brain that will allow handlers to sense what smells the insect is picking up with its antennae. The locusts would be directed to sensitive areas electronically, and information then would be wirelessly transmitted to handlers stationed in safe areas. The Navy’s locust project is an example of humans using technology in new ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another new use of technology. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips for the newspaper, demonstrating how the new technology could change things for people. Share strips with family or friends and discuss.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Survivors Visit

Survivors of one terrorist attack — the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing — have visited survivors of another — the recent Orlando nightclub massacre. The Boston survivors met the Orlando victims at the Orlando Medical Center in Florida, where they were being treated for their injuries. Some of the 10 survivors from Boston, Massachusetts, were accompanied by service dogs. One in the Boston group, a double amputee, said it helps to talk with “someone who has been through similar conditions. … [We] are family now.” With family or friends, talk about ways people can be helped by talking with people who have had similar experiences. Then use the newspaper or Internet to read about a situation in which someone might like to talk with someone who has experienced something similar. Use what you read to write an imagined dialog between the two people who have shared an experience. Read your dialog aloud with family or friends.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression on successive readings.