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For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 10, 2016

1. The Second Debate

Second presidential debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump was held Sunday, October 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. With less than a month to go before the November 8 election, both candidates need to take advantage of every chance to make a positive impression with the nation’s voters. As a class, discuss what was said at the debate if you watched it, or what commentators in the newspaper and online are saying about it. Use what you saw or read to write a short editorial giving your view on the most positive impressions each candidate gave voters in the debate.

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. Internet Addiction

Kids who spend too much time on the Internet are at risk for mental health problems, including anxiety, inattention, depression, functioning issues and impulsiveness. That’s the finding of a new study about the influence of the Internet on children, teens and pre-teens. According to the study, 33 of 254 youngsters in a sample group were found to be suffering from “Internet addiction” symptoms — nearly one of every eight. In addition, the report found that 55.8 percent of the students found it difficult to control their video streaming, 47.9 percent couldn’t stay away from social media and 28.5 were obsessed with instant messaging tools. All told, the researchers concluded that 42.1 percent had mental health issues due to excessive reliance on the Internet. As a class, discuss how — and how much — you use the Internet or social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Then use the newspaper and Internet to read about effects the Internet can have on users. Use what you read to write a consumer column for the newspaper, offering advice for healthy habits for using the Internet or social media.

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

3. A Lousy Development

Schools are back in session, and unfortunately school districts across the country report that head lice are back, too. What’s more, this year’s variety is a new strain that is apparently resistant to the most common over-the-counter remedies. Genetic mutations have made these lice less likely to succumb to previously effective treatments and ingredients, a new study reports in the Journal of Medical Entomology. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved some products that are effective against these “super lice,” but they require prescriptions from doctors. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises trying the over-the-counter medicines before resorting to prescription products, and says kids should avoid contact with other people’s clothing and hair. Public health issues like outbreaks of head lice are often in the news because they affect so many people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a public health issue people should know about. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a public service TV ad to educate people about the issue. Write the first scene of your ad, including visuals 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.

4. A Robot You Can Swallow

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are designing a tiny robot that people can swallow to patch wounds, deliver medicine or dislodge foreign objects. The gadget would be frozen into an ice capsule that would be swallowed. When the ice melts, the robot would be released into the stomach and directed to locations in the digestive system. The robot is shaped like an accordion, and has been nicknamed the “origami robot.” Every day scientists develop new ways to use technology. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about technology being used in a product in a new way. Or find an example in the ads of the newspaper. Use what you read to write a letter to students living 20 years in the future, describing how this new use of technology changed things for people.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. Ground Zero Arts Center

Long-delayed plans to build a performing arts center at the World Trade Center site in New York City have moved forward at last. This summer a new design was unveiled for the building, and singing superstar Barbra Streisand was announced as chairwoman of the board. The center will be called the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center after the billionaire whose $175 million donation revived the project. It will “vibrate with theater, music, dance and film,” Streisand said, “and bring life to this hallowed ground.” The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001, when airplanes hijacked by terrorists crashed into them. Communities benefit from the performing arts in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a live arts performance like a play, dance show or concert. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, detailing how live arts performances are different from other entertainment — and why that makes them special. As evidence, talk about live performances you have seen, or would like to see. Discuss as a class,

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; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.