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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 28, 2019

1. A First for ‘Panther’

“Black Panther” was a breakthrough movie when it came out last spring. Directed by an African American director with an almost all-black cast, the movie sold $1.35-billion in tickets around the world. It also won wide praise for the way it incorporated cultural and political messages in an action movie. Now “Black Panther” has achieved another breakthrough — it is the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture in the yearly Academy Awards Oscars competition. Directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o, “Black Panther” also was nominated for six other Oscars, including Best Original Song. The song, “All the Stars,” was written by Kendrick Lamar. The Oscar nominations are generating a lot of discussion about who will be the winners at the award ceremony February 24. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about what movies deserve this year’s honors. Then discuss what movies you and your classmates liked this year. Use what you read and points from the discussion to write a movie column analyzing which movies most deserved their Oscar nominations — and any that you think were overlooked.

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. NFL Controversy

The New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams will face off Sunday in the NFL’s 53rd Super Bowl. But the referees may be getting as much attention as the players. That’s because sports fans are still buzzing over a missed pass interference call that may have helped the Rams defeat the New Orleans Saints in the NFC conference championship game. The missed call came with the game tied at 20 with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. The Saints were on the move for a go-ahead score when quarterback Drew Brees threw a pass in the direction of wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman crashed full speed into Lewis without even trying to make a play on the ball. No penalty was called, even though league officials later conceded it was clearly interference. Under current rules, the call could not be overturned using instant replay. The league rulemaking committee will consider changing that in the offseason to make pass interference calls reviewable. The NFL has tried to limit the use of instant play out of fear that overuse would make games too long. Fans, however, have indicated they feel getting key calls right is more important than the length of games. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the use of instant replay. Use what you read to write a letter to the NFL, offering your view on how replay should be used.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; organizing data using concrete objects, pictures, tallies, tables, charts, diagrams and graphs.

3. Power of Stripes

In many parts of the world, mosquitoes, horseflies and other blood-sucking insects pose a threat to health as well as comfort. But a new study suggests that cultures that paint their skin may have found a way to fend off the insects. The study by researchers in the European nations of Sweden and Hungary found that painting in a dark-and-light striped pattern was an effective way to hold off biting insects. Using plastic human models, the researchers found that a brown model of a human attracted 10 times as many horseflies as a dark model painted with white stripes. A model painted in a light brown, beige color attracted twice as many biting insects as the striped version. Previous work by the researchers had found that the black and white stripes of zebras helped protect them from biting insects. Scientists are always learning new things about wildlife. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a new wildlife discovery. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a cartoon or series of comic strips to explain how the discovery was made and why it is important. Draw the opening scene of your cartoon or comic.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.

4. Ice in Greenland

Global warming is affecting the environment all over the world, but nowhere more than the Arctic region near the Earth’s North Pole. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as other areas on Earth, causing the Arctic’s enormous ice sheets to melt. In the nation of Greenland, for example, ice is melting so fast that it could affect sea levels around the world. According to a new study, yearly ice loss increased from 100 billion tons per year to more than 400 billion tons between the years 2003 and 2012, the New York Times reported. The melting is not slowing down and could affect sea levels within 20 years, the study said. Photographers play a big role in showing the effects of global warming and climate change. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one effect. Then think like a news photographer who has been assigned to cover the story. Make a list of photos you would want to take to best tell the story. Note any special ways you would frame or take the pictures to make them as effective as possible.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Heat Wave

People across many parts of the United States have been stuck in a deep freeze of cold temperatures this month. In the Southern Pacific nation of Australia, however, people are suffering a heat wave. Because Australia is located in the Earth’s Southern Hemisphere below the equator, it is summer there when it is winter in the United States. This month, temperatures in Australia have soared above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in many places, and in the towns of Marble Bar and Tarcoola they topped 120 degrees. People are being urged to stay indoors, not only to avoid the heat but to avoid the ozone air pollution it causes. The high temperatures are taking a toll on fruits, vegetables and wildlife, especially bats and fish that are heat sensitive. Extreme weather is often in the news for the situations and conditions it creates. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an extreme weather situation. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling how the extreme weather is affecting people, wildlife or plant life.

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.