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For Grades 5-8 , week of May 02, 2022

1. Negro League Coins

Baseball’s Negro Leagues were formed just over 100 years ago to give African American players a chance to play professionally at a time they were banned from Major League Baseball. The Negro Leagues produced some of baseball’s greatest players, and their achievements helped pave the way for Black and Latino stars playing in the Major Leagues today. To honor the contributions of the Negro Leagues, the U.S. Mint this year launched a commemorative coin program offering $5, $1 and half-dollar coins celebrating the history and appeal of Negro League baseball. The $5 gold coin features a portrait of Negro National League founder Rube Foster on the “heads” side and a tipping-the-hat design on the “tails” side as a symbol of respect for pioneering players. The $1 silver coin features a pitcher throwing a baseball on the “heads” side and a batter about to hit the pitch on the “tails” surface. The half-dollar coin has a closeup of a batter on the “heads” side along with a portrait of a team bus that players could have slept on when they were banned from getting rooms at hotels. The “tails” side shows a group of Negro League stars in uniform, waiting to play. When Negro League stars like Jackie Robinson went on to play in the Major Leagues, they opened the door for the Black and Latino players who are stars today. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about top Black and Latino stars currently playing. Use what you read to write a sports column assessing how the style and skill of these players make Major League Baseball a richer and more interesting sport for fans.

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. Drunk Driving Justice

Accidents caused by drunk drivers cause damage, pain and hardship for the families of victims. This is especially true for children of people killed in accidents caused by people driving while drunk or impaired by drugs. In the state of Tennessee, the state legislature has taken a dramatic step to penalize drivers who cause such accidents. A new law passed by the legislature would require drunk drivers to pay child support if they kill the parent of a minor child while driving under the influence. The law was passed unanimously by both the Tennessee House and Senate and now goes to Governor Bill Lee, the New York Times newspaper reported. If signed into law, the measure would require those convicted of drunk driving crimes that caused the death of a parent to pay child support for the victim’s minor children until each child reaches 18 years of age and has graduated from high school. The amount of support would be determined by a court review of the financial needs and resources of the children involved and the resources of any surviving parent or guardian. The drunk driving support bill passed by the Tennessee legislature is an example of lawmakers taking action to solve a problem. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a legislature passing a measure to correct another problem. Use what you read to write a short editorial analyzing whether the measure will effectively address the problem.

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. What a Learner!

It’s often said that a love of learning can lead to great things. In the state of Minnesota, it has certainly done so for a young teenage boy. Elliott Tanner of the city of St. Louis Park is about to reach an impressive milestone in his education. At just 13 he will graduate in May from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in the challenging subject of physics (and a minor in math). And Elliott already is making plans to get an advanced doctoral degree so he can share his love of physics as a college professor. According to his mom, Elliott always has been an eager learner. He taught himself to read when he was between 2 and 3 and was reading college textbooks by the age of 9, UPI News reports. Two years later he had earned an associate of science degree at a local community college before enrolling at the university. “It’s sort of been a crazy ride getting here, but it’s just been such a nice experience,” Elliott said. “I’m hoping to become a professor … to spread this joy and passion for physics with other people.” Since he was a young boy Elliott Tanner has wanted to study science and learn about the field of physics. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about something you would like to learn more about or pursue as a career. Use what you read to write a letter to a college or potential employer outlining why you would like to learn more about this subject — and why you should be given an opportunity to do so.

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.

4. ‘Penguin Post Office’

With 5.4-million square miles of land, Antarctica is the Earth’s fifth largest continent. Yet it has far fewer people than penguins, with a permanent population of just under 4,500. With so few people, you wouldn’t think there would be much need for a post office to send letters elsewhere in the world. Yet on Goudier Island, just off the west side of the Antarctic peninsula, there is a small post office serving the 18,000 tourists who come through each year. And the post office is looking for adventurous people who would like to work there for the 2022-2023 summer season. It’s a hard life, even though the facility has the cheerful nickname as the “Penguin Post Office,” NPR Radio reports. On top of cold temperatures, staff members share a single lodge-style bedroom. There’s no flush toilet and a camping toilet must be emptied daily. There's also no running water or showers, and staffers only can get them every few days on visiting ships. There’s also no Internet or cell phone reception, so staffers have “very minimal communication with home,” according to a work packet describing the job. The jobs pay $1,600 to $2,300 per month, but “Antarctica is a physically and mentally challenging place to work,” the packet says. People often choose jobs because they want to live in unusual or exotic places. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a place you would like to live and work. Research jobs that exist and pick one you would like to do. Write a paragraph detailing why it would fun or enriching to work at this job in this unusual place.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Some Gem

Diamonds are among the most valuable gemstones in the world, and collectors will pay lots of money for rare ones. In the Asian city of Hong Kong this spring, one of the rarest went on sale, and the price it brought was nearly $10-million more than had been predicted. The gem was a huge blue diamond named “The De Beers Cullinan Blue,” and it sold for $57.5-million at an auction run by the Sotheby’s company. The rare diamond got its name from the place it was found in 2021 — the Cullinan mine in the African nation of South Africa. It was given the highest ranking that colored diamonds are judged by, according to gem experts. “It is truly a once-in-a-generation stone,” said the chairman of Sotheby’s in Asia. Blue diamonds are created by the presence of the element boron and range in color from light blue to deep blue. The darker the color, the more valuable the stone. Wealthy people often pay great amounts of money for rare or unusual things. Imagine you had unlimited money. Find something advertised or written about in the newspaper or online that you would be willing to pay a lot for. It can be an item you would want for yourself or a family member or something connected to a person you admire. Write a letter to a friend, describing the item you chose and why you would be willing to pay a lot for it. Share letters as a class.

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.