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For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 30, 2017

1. Super Bowl

Next Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday and football fans all over the nation are gearing up to see whether the New England Patriots or the Atlanta Falcons will win the National Football League championship. Every year before the Super Bowl hundreds of stories are written about what each team needs to do to win and which players will be the most important. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read examples of such stories for this year’s game. Then use what you read to write a sports column, giving your views on what each team needs to do to win, and which team you think will be most successful. Share columns as a class and discuss which ones supported their points and arguments most effectively.

Common Core State Standards: Engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; 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. Climate Change and Jet Speeds

New research predicts that climate change will speed up the jet-stream tailwinds in the upper atmosphere that boost aircraft headed from the United States to Europe. This will speed up London-bound flights traveling east, but lead to more frequent delays in those bound west for New York. (The winds will have similar effects on American flights traveling between the East Coast and West Coast.) The conclusion about jet-stream tailwinds was based on data contained in a study examining how the amount of the gas carbon dioxide has doubled in the atmosphere due to climate change and global warming. The study was published in the science journal Environmental Research Letters. Global warming and climate change are having effects all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effect. Use what you read to create a series of comic strips illustrating and explaining the effect.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points;

3. Medical Error Deaths

If medical error were considered a disease, it would be the third leading cause of death in the United States, a new study has found. Only heart disease and cancer cause more deaths each year, researchers report. Researchers defined medical error as any health care intervention that causes a preventable death. The researchers estimated an average of 251,454 deaths a year are caused by medical errors. The errors include mistakes in diagnosis, communication breakdowns, failure to do necessary tests, errors in medication dosages and other improper procedures. When people need medical care, they want to be sure it is both safe and effective. Most medical care is, but when it is not it gets news coverage in newspapers and online. Use the newspaper and Internet to find and read a story about a case in which people did not get top quality medical care due to errors or other factors. Use what you read to write a short editorial, offering your views on steps doctors and hospitals should take to make sure all care is as safe and effective as it can be.

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. Marines Changing Job Titles

Now that combat jobs are being opened to women in the U.S. military, the armed forces are renaming job titles to comply with a Pentagon directive to make them gender-neutral. The Marine Corps is removing “man” from 19 titles, changing “antitank missileman” to “antitank gunner,” for example. In most cases, the word “man” will be replaced by “Marine,” so that “basic infantryman” would become “basic infantry Marine.” Not every title is being changed, though. “Rifleman” will not become “rifleperson” or “rifle Marine,” the Corps has assured Marines who have criticized the changes as an example of “political correctness.” Changes in the way things are done in the U.S. military often are in the news. Some changes are small, such as the new job titles in the Marines, and some are large, such as new approaches for using troops. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a change the military is making in the way it does things. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper, summarizing what the change is, why it was made, and how it will affect the soldiers working under it.

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.

5. A $63.7 Million Picasso

A Pablo Picasso painting called “Femme Assise” (“Woman Sitting”) sold for $63.7 million at Sotheby’s in London — the most ever paid for an abstract Cubist painting sold at an auction. The Cubist style of painting breaks objects down into geometric shapes and reassembles them in an abstract way. “Femme Assise” was one of Picasso’s earliest Cubist paintings, which made it more valuable. The 1909 painting was last sold at auction in 1973 for about $500,000 in today’s dollars, but the latest sale brought more than 127 times that amount. The buyer was a telephone bidder who has not been identified. Cubism was an experiment that broke new ground in the world of art. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another experiment that is breaking new ground in another field. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, calling attention to this experiment and telling why it is important to its field.

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.