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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Feb. 06, 2012

1. Remembering Arthur Ashe

Almost 20 years ago Americans were still learning about a disease called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, better known as AIDS. On February 6, 1993, they learned more about it when tennis great Arthur Ashe died of the disease in New York City, after contracting it through a blood transfusion. He was the only African American man to win the Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open tennis tournaments. Heart problems forced Ashe to leave the sport in 1980, and he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985. He lived just 49 years but raised awareness of AIDS worldwide. Two weeks ago a winner was announced in a competition to build an AIDS Memorial Park in New York City. In pairs or teams, find a newspaper article about AIDS. Or find an example online. Write a summary of the article and present it to the class.

Core/National Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose and audience.

2. Here and There

People used to say, "what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?" when they heard information that they thought wasn't important. China was far away and not considered important to the daily lives of people in the United States. Now, with planes, boats, long-distance telephone calls, the Internet and TV news from around the world, China doesn't seem as far away. And now, other countries all are important to people in the United States in large or small ways. Divide your class into five groups and assign each group a continent—Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia or South America). In each group, find an article in today's newspaper about an event that happened on your continent. (Use the Internet if you do not find one immediately.) As a group look up any words that are new to you and talk about the article until you understand what it is about. Find the place talked about on a map.

Core/National Standard: Distinguishing between events in this country and abroad.

3. It’s a Grammar Touchdown

Sunday, February 5 was a day about excitement. It also was a day when sports journalists across the country sought to bring their best game to write about the Super Bowl for newspapers this week. Not surprisingly, many used every adjective they could find to make their writing come alive. Active verbs like “smashed,” “bolted,” “dove” and “nailed” ruled the day. Even the simple transition words like “next,” “then,” “also” and “in addition” found themselves losing out to verbs leading readers through the action. Clip or print out a newspaper article about the Super Bowl game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants. Use a highlighter to pick out the best action verbs, adjectives and transitions. Share what you find with the class.

Core/National Standards: Using the craft of the writer to express ideas and emotions, including strong verbs, adjectives and adverbs; analyzing how to use a variety of transition words, phrases and clauses to convey sequence, signal shifts and show relationships.

4. Writing for Space

Sometimes newspaper writers are assigned stories that make them wish they worked for a magazine where they would have more than 15 inches of space to present their account. Greg Bluestein might have felt that way when he covered the kidnapping of an American businessman in the African nation of Nigeria. The car carrying Greg Ock was stuck in traffic when two men with guns forced him from the car and into a getaway vehicle. They roared through the streets of the town, crashed through a barricade and traded gunfire with police. Ock endured a number of experiences before being released. The question Bluestein faced was which facts to use and which quotes made the best story in the space allowed. Find a newspaper news or feature article that catches your attention. Write a paragraph explaining what interested you and what details made the story memorable after you read it. Afterward, email the writer and ask him/her how he/she decided what would be included and what would be cut.

Core/National Standards: Developing a topic thoroughly by selecting the most significant and relevant facts, concrete details, quotations and other information.

5. The Fab Four

Imagine Justin Bieber times four. That was the Beatles in 1964, when the band first touched down in America. The Fab Four, as they were often called, were an almost instant hit in the United States after their song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was released. When they arrived at the airport in New York, more than 3,000 screaming fans almost caused a riot. Two days after arriving, they made their first appearance on television’s “Ed Sullivan Show.” Find a newspaper article about a musical artist or band that has made a huge impact on pop culture. Research the person or group and write a short biography. Design a poster to go with your biography.

Core/National Standard: Understanding the impact art, movies, television, music and technology have on society.