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For Grades 5-8 , week of Dec. 06, 2021

1. Holiday Giving

Each year during the holiday season, people make donations to organizations that do good in the community or the world. These organizations may help children, wildlife, poor people or others in need of support. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about organizations that work to do good in your community, the nation or the world. Pretend you have a lot of money to donate this holiday season. Pick one local organization, one national organization and one worldwide organization you would donate to. For each, write a paragraph explaining why you would support the group’s efforts.

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.

2. What a Text!

For millions of people, texting is a fast and easy way to keep in touch with friends and classmates. But if you punch in a wrong number, you may end up in touch with someone you don’t even know. That happened recently to a high school basketball team in Pontiac, Michigan, and the players ended up with the text of a lifetime. The freshman team at Notre Dame Prep landed in a Face Time call with Super Bowl champions Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! The unexpected turn of events began when team member Vinny Tartaglia was building a group text list for practices and was “one digit off” on one teammate’s phone number. The text went through to Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting, a Michigan native who had a phone number in the same area code. Murphy-Bunting replied “This is Sean. Do you know who I am?” At first the Pontiac students thought they were being pranked by their teammate, but Murphy-Bunting put that to rest by FaceTiming the group from the Bucs’ locker room. He introduced them to Bucs stars Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Lavonte Davis and Richard Sherman. The team, of course, wanted to know where Brady was, since he’s a local hero who starred at the University of Michigan. Then Brady popped up on screen and said “What’s up fellas?!?!” and “the boys lose their minds,” according to the father of one team member. “That was really fun,’ Brady later told ESPN “It was really good to see all those young kids hyped up.” Thanks to a mistake, the Notre Dame Prep freshman team got to FaceTime with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the newspaper or online, find someone you would like to FaceTime with. Write out three things you would like to tell this person and three questions you would like to ask.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

3. Hunger Crisis

In Central America, South America and the region including the Caribbean Sea, millions of people live in poverty. And with the coronavirus disrupting jobs, travel and earning power, millions are going hungry like never before. In just one year, the number of people living with hunger in those regions rose by 30 percent, or 13.8-million people, a new United Nations report on food security and nutrition has declared. The U.N. report calculates that 59.7-million people in the regions are now suffering from hunger — the highest level since the year 2000, CNN News reports. In the Central American nation of Guatemala, half of the population is experiencing food insecurity, the U.N. said, and in El Salvador and Honduras, statistics are nearly as bad at 47 and 46 percent, respectively. Hunger is one of the reasons many residents are seeking to migrate from Central and South America to the United States. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about conditions in those regions. Use what you read to write a short editorial suggesting ways the United States or other countries could assist nations in those regions in their battle against hunger and poverty.

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.

4. Avenue of the Sphinxes

The northern African nation of Egypt is home to some of the most famous artifacts of the ancient world. Now, in addition to the Pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza, a new attraction has been opened for visitors. On America’s Thanksgiving Day, Egyptian officials re-opened the Avenue of the Sphinxes, which was buried by sand for centuries and took more than 70 years to excavate and restore. The 3,000-year-old avenue, once called the “Path of God,” connects the Temple of Luxor with the Temple of Karnak next to Egypt’s historic Nile River. The two-mile stone walkway is lined on either side by more than 600 ram-headed statues and traditional sphinxes — statues with a lion’s body and a human head. The re-opening was marked in the city of Luxor by an elaborate celebration featuring participants dressed like pharaohs, light shows, fireworks, dancers, music by a symphony orchestra and an appearance by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The event was designed to re-create the spirit of the ancient festival of Opet, which promoted fertility and the Nile River and featured statues of ceremonial gods carried from the Karnak Temple to the Luxor Temple. The Avenue of the Sphinxes has given archaeologists a great deal of information about how Egyptians lived 3,000 years ago. What would be a place in the United States that would tell future archaeologists a lot about how we live today? In the newspaper or online, find stories and photos of a place that would reveal a lot about American life as we live it. Use what you find to to create a multi-media presentation explaining what this location would tell future archaeologists about American life today.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. Feathered Aggressors

In the winter months, many people like to feed wild birds to help them survive the cold. But as anyone who has watched a feeder can report, there is often a lot of squabbling among species. So what birds dominate in this “pecking order”? A new study of bird behavior in North America has produced a “power ranking” of almost 200 species that might turn up at feeders, the Washington Post newspaper reports. Blue jays, of course, are near the top of the list, since they are known as much for their aggressive behavior as for their beautiful blue feathers. In fact, the new study uses blue jays as kind of a measuring point, dividing species into categories based on whether they are “more dominant than the blue jay” or “less dominant than the blue jay.” There are several common species that are “more dominant” than jays, including the European starling, red-bellied woodpecker, common grackle and — at the top of the list — the American crow. Ranked just below blue jays are the red-breasted American robin, red-winged blackbird, hairy and downy woodpeckers, mourning dove and the northern cardinal known for its bright red feathers. Wildlife species often act in ways that show more or less dominance with other species or even within their own species. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a species that displays this kind of behavior. Use what you read to write a short nature column examining the behavior and what role it plays for the species. Compare the species’ behavior with human behavior if you like.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.