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For Grades 5-8 , week of Sep. 12, 2022


1. 70 Years a Queen

Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain was monarch of the European nation and its Commonwealth for longer than any British monarch ever. This week Britain and the rest of the Commonwealth of Nations are mourning her death at age 96 after 70 years on the throne. She died last week just days after taking part in the traditional ceremony asking new Prime Minister Liz Truss to form a government. The head of England’s royal family is now Elizabeth’s oldest son, Charles. Charles is 73 and has been heir-apparent to the throne since 1952 — the longest serving heir-apparent in history. As king, Charles will rule as King Charles III following two other kings named Charles in British history. With a decline in the Queen’s health over the last two years, Charles has assumed more of her royal duties. He is known as being “forward thinking” on issues, particularly those involving the environment, global warming and education. Queen Elizabeth II was successful for many, many years as England’s queen. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another person, business or institution that has been successful for a long time. Use what you read to write a personal column analyzing how the long-term success of this person or institution could be a role model for others.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Moon Launch Delay

The Artemis program of America’s NASA space agency wants to land astronauts on the Earth’s moon, possibly as soon as three years from now. Those plans have been put on hold, however, after NASA had to cancel two launches of its first Artemis flight due to fuel leaks and other problems. The Artemis I mission now is not likely to launch until October, NASA and other space experts said. The most significant leaks involved liquid hydrogen, a super cold element that is one of the propellants used by the rocket blasting the mission into space. The delay in the first launch will not affect other missions in the program, NASA officials said. Administrator Bill Nelson reminded people that at the start of America’s space shuttle program in the 1980s, the shuttle craft was sent back to NASA’s assembly building 20 times before it launched. He also pointed out that the cost of canceling a launch is far less than a failure that could destroy the spacecraft. American astronauts first landed on the moon 50 years ago as part of NASA’s Apollo program. In ancient Greek mythology Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo. The Artemis space program has ambitious plans to land astronauts on the moon and establish a long-term base. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the program’s goals. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor assessing which goals you think are the most valuable or important.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

3. A Dino Worth the Word!

The word “gobsmacking” is an adjective that means “astounding,” “astonishing” or “unbelievable.” It comes from the old English word “gob” which means “mouth,” and describes how you might feel if you were smacked in the mouth. It doesn’t get used much in everyday conversation, but a scientist on the continent of Europe felt no other word would do when he learned of an amazing fossil find in the nation of Portugal. The find was of a humongous rib cage discovered in the back yard of a property where the owner excavating for a construction project. Scientists believe it was from a plant-eating sauropod and may be one of the largest dinosaur fossils ever found on the continent of Europe. With a long neck and long tail, this brachiosaurus-type sauropod was estimated to be 39 feet high and 82 feet long and weigh as much as 60 tons. Paleontologist Steve Brusatte, who was not involved in the discovery, told CNN News it was “gobsmacking” to find “a dinosaur ribcage sticking out of somebody’s garden.” “Gobsmacking” is an unusual adjective used to describe the fossil discovery in Portugal. In the newspaper or online, find and make a list of other unusual adjectives used to describe things. Look up their meaning and write complete sentences using each. Join with classmates to make a master list of unusual adjectives you can use in your writing.

Common Core State Standards: Identifying multiple language conventions and using them; recognizing nouns, verbs and modifiers; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.

4. An Emmy for Barack

Since leaving the White House in 2017, former President Barack Obama has been busier than he ever planned. He has written a best-selling book, formed a movie production company, produced documentary films, launched a podcast with Bruce Springsteen, bought a $11.75-million mansion, won a Profile in Courage award and even sent his oldest daughter Malia off to college (at Harvard). Now he has added to his resume, winning a TV Emmy Award for narrating a Netflix documentary on national parks that he produced through the production company Higher Ground that he founded with his wife and former First Lady Michelle. The five-part documentary series “Our Great National Parks” examined leading national parks in the United States and the world. He previously won two spoken word Grammy Awards for narrating books he had written. Former President Barack Obama continues to live a very active life. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different activities he is involved in. Pretend you are a newspaper or TV reporter and prepare five questions you would like to ask him about one or more of his activities. Discuss why you would like answers to these questions.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

5. Pyramids by Boat

The Pyramids of Giza are the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. For years, scientists and historians have wondered how ancient Egyptians transported the massive amounts of rock and stone needed to construct the structures in northern Africa. New research indicates that workers may have used a now-dry arm of the Nile River to float giant blocks of limestone and granite by boat to the construction site on the edge of the modern city of Cairo. Using high-tech analysis of the dry Khufu branch of the Nile, scientists have determined that the waterway could have been deep enough and full enough during flood seasons to transport construction materials to the pyramid site in Giza 4,500 years ago, CNN News reports. That was when the three main pyramids at Giza were built. The largest of these is the Great Pyramid, which is sometimes called Cheops or Khufu after the pharaoh who built it. The Great Pyramid originally stood 481 feet high and contained 2.3-million stone blocks with a combined mass of 5.75-million tons. The nation of Egypt in northern Africa has had some of the most amazing discoveries of buildings, tombs and cities of the ancient world. And it continues to make new discoveries. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these discoveries involving ancient life. Use what you read to write and design a travel brochure highlighting new discoveries and why they would make people want to visit Egypt.

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.