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For Grades 5-8 , week of Mar. 20, 2017

1. TV and Bullying

If you watch a high rate of TV when you are 2 years old, it is more likely that you will be bullied when you get older, according to a study reported in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. The study followed children from birth to sixth grade and found that those who watched more television at age 2 reported more instances of being bullied in later years. They may be more vulnerable because they have less well developed communications skills and more passive behaviors due to years of spacing out in front of the TV. “Family interaction [is] the primary vehicle for socialization,” the study’s author explains, and TV “leaves less time” for it. The researchers linked early TV-viewing with developmental deficits in brain functions that drive interpersonal relationships — a situation that can make children susceptible to bullying. Efforts to curb bullying in schools and neighborhoods have been in the news all over the country. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts to reduce bullying. Use what you read and other resources to design a website that would offer information on different approaches. Design the home page to show categories of information you want to highlight. Pick an image to illustrate each category. Then write headlines and text blocks to briefly explain each category.

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. Monument to Move

In the European nation of Poland, the city of Szczecin is moving a giant monument honoring the Red Army of the former Soviet Union (now Russia). The City Council voted to move the monument out of a central square and into a cemetery where Red Army troops are buried. It was erected in 1950, when Poland was a communist country like the Soviet Union. It was created in gratitude for the Soviet defeat of Nazi German troops that occupied the city during World War II. Explaining the move, City Councilors say the towering, obelisk-like structure is unpopular and is often vandalized. About 600,000 Soviet troops were killed on Polish soil in battles against Hitler’s army during World War II. Many communities erect monuments to commemorate people or events that are important to local history. Use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories about people or events that have been important to your state or community. Pick one and brainstorm an idea for a monument to commemorate the person or event. Draw an illustration of what your monument would look like. Then write a paragraph explaining your ideas.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

3. Saudis ‘Give’ Egypt 2 Islands

In the Middle East, the nation of Saudi Arabia wanted to thank Egypt for its aid and investment, so it gave Egypt a gift — two islands in the Red Sea. Tiran and Sanafir are dry and uninhabited, but are located in a strategic area at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba. The transfer of the islands — which Egyptians have considered theirs all along — followed a visit to Cairo by Saudi King Salman last year. The two nations signed more than 15 agreements as part of the agreement, including an oil deal worth $22 billion to Egypt. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are important and influential countries in the Middle East. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one of the countries (or both). Use what you read to write a paragraph or short essay explaining why the country is in the news, and why that is important to the United States or other nations.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Long-Term Smoking Effects

Researchers have found a major new danger to smoking: Genetic damage. Researchers have concluded, “Tobacco smoking causes mutations that lead to cancer by multiple distinct mechanisms. … [It] damages DNA organs directly exposed to smoke [and] speeds up the cellular clock [for mutations] in organs.” Cancers are caused by mutations of healthy cells, and tobacco smoke contains more than 70 chemicals known to cause cancer, researchers from the Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory and other institutions pointed out in a report in the journal Science. Smoking has been linked to cancer for years, “but now,” observes a researcher from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in England, “we can actually observe and quantify the molecular changes in the DNA. …” Cancers come in many forms and affect millions of people a year. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about research seeking to find a cure for one type of cancer. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, summarizing what the research has discovered or targeted, and why people should support that research.

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

5. Art in China

In the world of art, little things can often have big impact. That is certainly the case of a collection of little paintings owned by Luciano Benetton, co-founder of the famous Italian clothing company that bears his name. Benetton has given the Asian nation of China his collection of more than 20,000 postcard-size paintings by artists from 120 countries. About 3,000 of them are in an exhibit titled “Under One Sky” which is traveling to 13 cities in China over two years. The exhibit is being paired with a “Contemporary China 1949-2019” exhibit commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Benetton calls his gift “a way of establishing democracy in art” — even though China is a communist country. Art exhibits in museums or galleries call attention to the many ways people can express themselves creatively. In the newspaper or online, find a story about an art exhibit that includes photos of artworks being displayed. Closely read the story and study the artworks. Then write a review of one artwork, describing the style the artist uses, and how it makes you feel as a viewer.

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