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For Grades 5-8 , week of Aug. 15, 2016

1. Prince Band Reunion

The musician Prince founded the band The Revolution, and as a tribute to him band members will give two concerts September 2 and 3. The concerts will take place in the Minneapolis club where The Revolution was his backup band in the film “Purple Rain.” The group’s bassist, Brown Mark had promised the reunion after Prince died at age 57 in April. All the band members on the “Purple Rain” album will take part in the reunion concerts, along with other musicians who performed with Prince early in his career. The performances at the First Avenue Club will be “just the beginning,” Brown Mark predicts. The Revolution concerts are expected to be among the most talked about of the fall. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a concert that interests you this summer or fall. Think like a music critic and write a story giving reasons people should be interested in this concert. Use what you read and prior knowledge to support your points.

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.

2. Olympic Water Hazard

The Summer Olympics are in full swing in the South American city of Rio de Janeiro, and there is growing concern about the quality of the water in the city’s Guanabara Bay. Pollution from debris and garbage has raised concerns about health risks for swimmers and sailors competing on and in the bay’s water. Conditions have been “getting worse, not better,” one of the sailing coaches at the Olympics said just before competition started. Organizers of the Summer Olympics have swept debris from the competition areas, but say they cannot answer for the rest of the bay. Weather is a factor, observers note, because rain flushes more garbage and debris into the bay. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about water quality in Guanabara Bay, and the effect it is having on athletes or the Summer Olympics competition. Write a news story summarizing the responses of athletes and coaches to the issue of water quality in the bay.

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; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. ‘Sphere’ at World Trade Center

The sculpture that was the centerpiece of the old World Trade Center will be reinstalled at the New York City site, now that it’s been rebuilt. But it won’t be placed in the exact spot it occupied before the twin towers came crashing down in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Fritz Koenig’s 25-ton “Sphere for Plaza Fountain” will be “brought home” to the newly elevated Liberty Park and set down near the St. Nicholas National Shrine. The spot where the sculpture originally stood would now be in the middle of a restored Greenwich Street. Badly damaged in the terrorist attack, “Sphere” has been stored in The Battery area at the southern tip of Manhattan. It now will overlook the plaza of the National September 11 Memorial. Public artworks can be an effective way to call attention to people, events or local history. In the newspaper or online, find photos or stories about a public artwork in your community or state. Closely read the stories and study the photos. Do a little research about the subject of the artwork. Then write an art review for the newspaper, talking about the significance of the artwork and how effective it is for the community.

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.

4. China Tops in Supercomputers

A new list of the world’s fastest supercomputers provides evidence that the once-great technology gap between the United States and China no longer exists. China dominates the latest biannual ranking of the 500 fastest supercomputers. The Asian nation not only has the world’s fastest machine (for seventh straight time), but it now has the most computers among the fastest 500. Also for the first time, the world’s fastest supercomputer uses Chinese-made microprocessor chips, instead of chips from Silicon Valley’s Intel. Technology advances make news every day, in computing and other fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an advance in technology. Use what you read to write a short business column, explaining the advance and discussing whom it will affect most, 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; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. London Bans ‘Fat Shaming’

In the British city of London, the new mayor has banned transit system ads whose message encourages unhealthy body images for young women. The ads for Protein World weight-loss products amount to “fat shaming,” critics have said, and have drawn protests since they first appeared last year. Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has two teenage daughters, said “No one should feel pressurized … into unrealistic expectations surrounding their bodies” while riding buses or subways in the London “Tube” system. Several other countries have also challenged such advertising, which features stick-thin models and creates what transit officials call “body-confidence issues, particularly among young people.” Advertising often promotes images of people that set unrealistic standards of success or beauty for young people. In the newspaper or online, find and study advertisements that you think do this. Use what find to write a personal opinion column explaining the effects of such advertising on young viewers — and how they should respond. Write your column in the form of an open letter to a young person you know, if you like.

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.