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Grades 1-4
Grades 9-12

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for Grades 5-8

Sep. 14, 2020
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For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 20, 2020

1. Impeachment

The historic impeachment trial of President Trump is under way in the U.S. Senate. For just the third time in U.S. history, members of the Senate will determine whether the President should be removed from office on the grounds outlined in articles of impeachment passed by the U.S. House. The House approved two articles charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress and last week passed them on to the Senate for consideration. Under the U.S. Constitution, the House has the power to impeach a president and the Senate determines whether he should be removed from office. The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides over the trial. The impeachment of President Trump has heightened divisions between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats, who control the U.S. House, believe President Trump’s actions warrant removal from office. Republicans, who control the U.S. Senate, do not generally feel his actions warrant removal. A key question facing the Senate is whether to call witnesses and seek testimony in the impeachment trial. The Senate impeachment trial is putting a spotlight on differences between Democrats and Republicans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories that illustrate these differences. Use what you read to write a political column examining the differences between members of the two parties, and whether they extend beyond the question of impeachment.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Celebrity Support

The wildfires in Australia have burned millions of acres, destroyed thousands of homes and caused billions of dollars in damage. They have forced both wildlife and people to flee for their lives, and they continue to burn fiercely in tinder-dry “bush areas.” To help fight the fires and aid recovery, some of the world’s biggest celebrities have stepped up to donate money of their own or raise more funds through online campaigns. Leading the way are Australian actor Chris Hemsworth and singer Elton John, who have both pledged $1-million donations. The singer Pink, Australian singer Kylie Minogue and Australian actress Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban have pledged donations of $500,000. Australian comedian Celeste Barber created a Facebook campaign that raised more than $20-million in 48 hours, and Lizzo, Hugh Jackman, Selena Gomez and Hillary Duff all urged fans to support recovery efforts. In both big and small ways, people all over the world are looking for ways to help firefighting and recovery efforts in Australia. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different ways people are offering help. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining ways individuals or groups in your community could provide assistance to the people of Australia. Discuss ideas as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.

3. Plant Warning

Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, and at its highest elevations it is covered by snow, rock and ice. A new study, however, has found that more plants are growing at high elevations — and that may not be a good thing. The emergence of grasses, shrubs and mosses in the area between the tree line and the snow line of Everest and other mountains in the Himalaya range may be the result of global warming changing the environment, according to new research by scientists. “There are now more areas that are covered in plants than there were in 1993,” scientist Karen Anderson told CNN News. The growth of plant life could have impact on everything from snow melt to water supplies, the scientists said. Research has already documented that global warming is causing glaciers in the Himalayas to recede, and one-third of the ice in the region could melt by the end of the century. Climate change and global warming are affecting natural areas and wildlife all over the world. As a class, find and closely read a story about one effect. Write a letter to the editor, telling why the situation is important to know about and understand.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

4. Popeyes Payoff

Never underestimate the power of advertising. It cost a contestant on a Canadian TV show a $10,000 prize not long ago. The show was “Family Feud Canada,” and the host asked the contestants to “Name Popeye’s favorite food.” Contestant Eve Dubois was quick to hit the buzzer and sing out “Chhhiiicckkkeennnn.” She even did a little dance with her answer, CNN News reported. The problem was she was thinking about the Popeyes restaurant chain and its ads for fried chicken. The question was about the cartoon character Popeye the Sailor. And the answer, as her opponent pointed out, was “spinach,” not chicken. All was not lost for Dubois, however. When the Popeyes chain heard of her mistake, it contacted her on Twitter to say “Our survey says you got that right!” — and offered her $10,000 worth of Popeyes chicken and other foods. The most effective ads for restaurants, stores and products are the ones that stick in the memory of people who see them. In the newspaper or online, find and study ads that stand out with readers or viewers. Or consider ads you have seen on TV or the Internet. Pick one and write a consumer column analyzing why it is effective, how it appeals to viewers or readers, and what stands out about it. Share choices with the class and discuss.

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.

5. Helping Hand

Police officers see a lot of hardship in the world. And sometimes they take things into their own hands to deal with it. Not that they neglect their official duties. Consider the case of Officer Kenneth Martin of Fort Smith, Arkansas. He was shopping at Walmart when he heard a call on his radio about a family caught shoplifting at the store. When he went to the checkout area, he saw a man, woman and two children being held by store security. Martin learned that they had not scanned about half the items they had bagged at the self-checkout, including canned goods, pasta, ground beef and a teddy bear. The store wanted to press charges against the father, but not the mother. Martin took him into custody, but he wasn’t done. With his body cam still rolling, he walked the unpaid items to the customer service desk and paid for them himself. Then he returned them to the mother. “I took care of these for you,” he said. “I understand this is food and things that you need, but … don’t do this, not with babies. If you need help, ask for help.” People often take it upon themselves to help others or solve a problem. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a group or individual doing this. Use what you read to design a public service ad for the newspaper calling attention to this action and urging people to help others in a similar way.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.