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For Grades K-4 , week of Jan. 16, 2012

1. MLK

Civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. This week Americans honor his memory with the Martin Luther King Day national holiday. Dr. King used his intelligence, strength and character to lead African Americans in a fight for civil rights. As a class, read about another great person in today's newspaper. Then create a list on the chalkboard of talents, skills and personal qualities that have made this person great.

Core/National Standard: Identifying and explaining how individuals in history demonstrate good character and personal virtue.

2. Aloha!

Imagine sailing on a ship and seeing a beautiful island in front of you. That’s what Capt. James Cook did 234 years ago when he was the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands on January 18, 1778. The first island he saw was Oahu, and two days later, he landed on the island of Kauai. He named the island group the Sandwich Islands after the Earl of Sandwich in England. At first, the Hawaiians welcomed the strange visitors with their large ship. Cook and his crew stayed for a time before heading back to sea. They returned to Hawaii and were welcomed again, but their friendship started falling apart. Today the Hawaiian Islands are a major tourist attraction, visited by thousands of people a year. As a class, search your newspaper for stories about Hawaii. Or find some online. With what you find and other resources, write and design a travel brochure to get people to go to Hawaii.

Core/National Standard: Writing informative or explanatory texts to examine a topic or convey ideas and information clearly.

3. Helping Our Wildlife Friends

The World Wildlife Organization recently released a report on the world’s 10 most endangered animals. One of the most endangered is the Javan rhino on the island of Java in the southeast Asian nation of Indonesia. There are fewer than 50 left in the world and none in captivity. Other animals in danger are the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, which have fewer than 700 left in the wild. The list also includes snow leopards, tigers, Asian elephants, the Irrawaddy dolphin and the Sumatran orangutan, all of which live on the continent of Asia. Many of the animals are being forced from their habitats due to human building and development and the destruction of forests. Find a newspaper article about people helping animals. Draw a picture of how they are helping.

Core/National Standard: Using drawings or other visual displays when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts and feelings

4. Story Problems

Parents in Gwinnett County, Georgia, couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw their third graders’ math homework. One of the questions said, “Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, how many would each slave pick?” Another question said, “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?” The parents said the questions were racist and made them furious. An ABC News article said the school district’s spokeswoman said the teachers were trying to tie in what the children were learning about slavery in their social studies classes, but admitted the questions should not have been asked that way. Knowing how to do word problems in math is important, though. Search your newspaper for a story and use it to create two word problems of your own. Exchange problems with a classmate.

Core/National Standard: Writing and interpreting numerical expressions

5. It’s All in the Details!

Last week, Jordan Steffen was assigned to write a story about the National Western Stock Show Parade in Denver, Colorado. She could have written a simple story about the fact that there were cattle and tractors in the parade and people riding in cars. Instead, she wrote, “Rodeo queens from across the state lined the beds of classic trucks. The reflection of their tassled chaps and tiaras flashed in the polished wood and red paint.” In her story Steffen used great descriptive words. Read several newspaper stories and write down examples of descriptive phrases and words you find. Share with the class. Then describe something in your classroom, using descriptive words and phrases.

Core/National Standards: Using concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.