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For Grades 5-8 , week of June 24, 2019

1. Vape Testing

“Vaping” and the use of e-cigarettes has jumped dramatically in the last few years —especially among middle and high school students. According to the U.S. surgeon general, e-cigarette use among those students increased by 900 percent between 2011 and 2015, and more than 3.6 million middle schoolers and high schoolers vaped in 2018. All that vaping has increased the risk that students will become addicted to the nicotine in e-cigarettes, causing long-term health problems. It has also forced school districts to take aggressive steps to curb vaping. One of those is the Fairbury Public School District in the state of Nebraska. To discourage vaping the district school board has voted to require students in grades seven through 12 to undergo random nicotine testing if they want to take part in extracurricular activities such as sports, cheerleading or even the school chorus. The policy was based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2002 that upheld random drug testing for extracurriculars. Random testing of students for drug or nicotine use has caused debate over whether it violates privacy rights. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about reactions to random testing. Use what you read to write a short editorial, giving your opinion on whether random testing is a good idea. Support your opinion with facts from your reading.

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.

2. ‘Boaty’ Success

In the European nation of Great Britain, there were a lot of giggles three years ago when the public voted to name a new research ship “Boaty McBoatface.” The British chose not use the name for their new polar research ship, naming the ship after naturalist Sir David Attenborough instead. But in a nod to the public vote, they gave the silly name to a yellow submarine on board the ship. Now “Boaty McBoatface” has gotten its revenge. On its first mission the submarine discovered a significant link between winds in Antarctica and rising ocean temperatures. The unmanned sub navigated underwater valleys and canyons to measure increased turbulence in the water and linked it to stronger winds on the surface. The findings are significant because they show how winds mix warmer water in upper levels of the ocean with cooler water below, raising the overall temperature of the sea. That in turn causes sea levels to rise. Scientists are constantly learning new things about climate change or the environment. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about some new information that has been discovered. Use what you read to write a paragraph explaining the importance of the information.

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.

3. Vegan Chicken from KFC

Non-meat meat is all the rage in the fast food world. Burger King led the way with its all-vegetable “Impossible Whopper.” Then McDonald’s came up with a vegan burger of its own, called the “Big Vegan” or “the McVegan.” And now KFC is getting in on the action by introducing a vegan version of its signature crispy chicken burger on the continent of Europe. The fast food chain is calling its first plant-based offering “The Imposter.” The meat substitute in the “Imposter” comes from Quorn, which gets its protein from a fermented fungus. KFC describes the burger as “a triumph of deception,” CNN New reports. Companies often try new things to attract customers or respond to what they want. In the newspaper or online, find and study ads and stories about a company trying something new. Write a paragraph explaining why the company is trying this new thing and what will make it a success.

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. Bear With It

With their natural habitats being squeezed by development, black bears are having more and more encounters with people in communities across the nation. But few have seen them take part in a marathon. Yet that’s what happened in the town of Leadville, Colorado, this month. Runners in the Leadville Trail Marathon had to deal with some four-legged competition when a black bear briefly joined the race. Midway in the competition, the bear came out of the woods and cut through the line of runners. “Imagine our shock!” wrote runner Stephen Peterson on Facebook. “It was an amazing experience!” No one was injured and the race was completed on time. People often have close encounters with wildlife. And they need to know how to stay safe. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone having a close encounter with wildlife. Use what you read to create a poster offering safety tips for dealing with this species. Give your poster an eye-catching headline.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

5. ‘Overtourism’

Tourism can be great for cities, bringing in money for local businesses and creating jobs. But what happens when too many people decide to visit? Overcrowding can ruin the things that make a place attractive in the first place. In the European nation of Italy, the city of Venice is having to grapple with the problem of “overtourism.” And it is taking drastic action to deal with the more than 400,000 tourists who make “day trip” visits each day during peak seasons, plus the estimated 32,000 cruise ship passengers who land daily from April to October. In September, day-trippers will have to pay an entrance fee of up to $11 just to enter the city known for its canals and waterways. City officials say the fee will encourage “quality tourism” in which people will stay several days at a time, rather than making “in and out” visits that put a strain on services and public areas. During summer vacation, families often visit popular tourist attractions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a place or attraction that is very popular with tourists. Use what you read to write a travel column, offering advice for making the most of a visit to this place, and how to deal with crowds.

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.