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For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 24, 2016

1. An Election Website

Election Day in this year’s race for president is just two and a half weeks away, and the candidates are talking about a wide range of issues in an effort to win support. With so much going on, keeping track of the positions of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton can be difficult for some voters. Internet websites that compare candidates’ positions can help. In the newspaper or online, follow the campaigns of Trump and Clinton for a week and keep a log of the positions they take on different issues. Then use what you read and the candidates’ websites, to create a website of your own comparing positions on issues important to you and your family. Design a home page to show the issues for which you want to compare positions. Then design the “landing page” for each issue showing how you will compare the positions of the candidates. Write the content for your home page and for the issues pages. Remember, website writing needs to be concise and show the key information in the fewest number of words. Share ideas as a class.

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.

2. Mother Teresa Now a Saint

For many years, Mother Teresa was once widely known as “the Saint of Calcutta,” and now she has been formally recognized as a saint by Pope Francis and the Catholic Church. She was canonized as a saint by the Pope in ceremonies at the Vatican in Europe on September 4. Mother Teresa — now known as St. Teresa — was a nun who served the poor in the slums of Calcutta in the Asian nation of India. St. Teresa died in 1997 at age 87. St. Teresa was recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church for her many good works helping others. In the newspaper or online, closely read a story about someone today who is helping others in special ways. Use what you read to write a short editorial, thanking the person for their work and suggesting a way their community or nation could thank them in a meaningful way.

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.

3. Remove Confederate Statues?

Hundreds of people turned out recently in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana to protest Confederate-era monuments in the city — even though the City Council has agreed to remove four of them. The protest was organized by Take ‘Em Down NoLa, a group that advocates removal of statues linked to the city’s history of white supremacy. The City Council’s removal of four monuments has been stalled due to court challenges. Like the one-time Confederate states, many communities and institutions are re-examining their histories due to new attitudes about past practices ranging from slavery to the treatment of women or other groups. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read about a community or institution re-examining its past or taking steps to change traditions or the way things are done. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor discussing one case, examining what has been done and analyzing whether you think the actions are correct or appropriate.

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. Breathing Unhealthy Air

About 92 percent of the people in the world are breathing unhealthy air, the World Health Organization has declared. In its most comprehensive analysis ever of outdoor air quality, WHO calls atmospheric pollution a significant threat to public health. The report says outdoor air pollution causes about three million deaths a year around the world —mostly from cardiovascular, pulmonary and other non-communicable diseases. Air, water and trash pollution are problems all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how communities or nations are dealing with these problems. Use what you read to design a poster outlining what you think are five “best practice” steps that could be taken. Give your poster an eye-catching headline.

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. Macy’s Closing 100 Stores

Macy’s, the country’s largest department store chain, is closing 100 of its 728 stores. The closings are a result of declining business due to online competition from Amazon, the increasing popularity of discount and low-cost stores like T.J. Maxx, and the nation’s long economic recession. Experts in retail marketing say household spending is actually rising, but consumers prefer regular bargains and online convenience to shopping at the department stores they used to patronize. When companies close stores or offices, it affects local communities in many ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a business closing or moving. Use what you read to write a paragraph describing the different effects this action could have on the community.

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.