Resources for Teachers and Students

For Grades K-4 , week of Apr 04, 2022

1. Oscar for a ‘Queen’

Shaquille O’Neal and Stephen Curry have won worldwide fame for their achievements in professional basketball. Now the two NBA stars have won fame in an entirely different field. They have just won an Academy Award Oscar for producing a short documentary film. The film does have a connection to the field in which O’Neal and Curry have achieved fame and success. It’s about the only woman ever drafted by an NBA team and is called “The Queen of Basketball.” The “Queen” of the film is Lusia Harris, who won three national championships playing for Delta State University and who played for the first ever U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team. In fact, she scored the first points in women's Olympic tournament history at the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal, Canada. After that she was drafted by the NBA’s New Orleans Jazz — now the Utah Jazz — as a seventh-round pick in 1977. She never played professional for the Jazz or any other men’s team, but did play pro for the Houston Angels women’s team in 1979 and 1980. She was the first Black woman to ever be elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. To watch the 22-minute movie, click here. “She was so good that the people used to watch her games and not the men’s game,” O’Neal said. The documentary film “The Queen of Basketball” tells the story of a person who overcame hardships and obstacles to be a success. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another person who has faced challenges while becoming a success. Write a proposal for a movie company telling why this person would be a good subject for a short film, and what viewers could learn from the person’s story.

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.

2. Record Space Mission

American astronauts have been serving on the International Space Station for more than 20 years, but one of them has just done something never achieved before. Astronaut Mark Vande Hei has just completed a mission that was longer than any in the history of America’s NASA space agency. Vande Hei returned from space after spending 355 days aboard the space station orbiting 250 miles above the Earth. Vande Hei’s time on the space station broke the U.S. record of 340 days achieved by Scott Kelly in 2016. Vande Hei returned to Earth with two Russian cosmonauts, one of whom had also spent 355 days aboard the space station. That did not set a new record for Russia, however. Cosmonaut Valery Polyakov holds the Russian — and world — record for longest space flight after spending 437 days aboard the former space station Mir in 1994-1995. Vande Hei completed his mission when he and the cosmonauts touched down March 30 in the Asian nation of Kazakhstan. He then flew back to the United States in a Gulfstream jet to be reunited with his wife and two children in Houston, Texas. Missions by America’s NASA space agency are achieving new things every year. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one American space mission. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling what the mission has accomplished (or seeks to accomplish) and why that is important.

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.

3. Very Persuasive

Learning to do persuasive writing is a skill that will help you all through life. Persuasive writing seeks to get people to do things, or PERSUADE (pur-SWADE) them to take action. In the city of Richmond, Virginia, a second-grade class got a lesson in persuasive writing this spring — and found “forever homes” for more than 20 animals as a result. The lesson connected second graders at St. Michael’s Episcopal School with the Richmond Animal Care and Control Shelter, and it was a win for everyone involved. St. Michael’s teacher Kensey Jones came up with the idea after volunteering at the shelter for the last four years. She was thinking about dogs and cats that are hard to adopt due to age or other issues, and “the idea just came to me to connect persuasive writing with these adoptable pets that need a forever home.” The shelter thought the idea was “wonderful” and when she suggested it to her students there were “cheers in the classroom,” Jones told the Washington Post newspaper. Each student was assigned a dog or cat and asked to write a letter from the point of view of the animal telling why it would be a good pet to adopt. The students drew colorful pictures on the letters, and they were posted on the animals’ cages. One dog named Sunday Special got this heartfelt letter. “I would love to be adopted. If you do adopt me, I hope I will brighten up your Sundays like the sun,” one student wrote. “You’ll be my Sunday Special, and I hope I’ll be yours!” The program was very persuasive: 21 of the 24 animals that were written about have been adopted, including Sunday Special. Persuasive writing seeks to get people to do things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about something that needs to be done to help people, animals or the community. Use what you read to write a persuasive letter to get people to take action.

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. Happiest Nations

With war, disease and hardships for families, there is a lot to be unhappy about in the world. But there are also things to be thankful for, according to a yearly survey of nations called the World Happiness Report. Even with setbacks and challenges — or maybe because of them — kindness is on the rise. The kindness is evident in three major ways, according to this year’s report — helping strangers, donating to charities and volunteering to find solutions to problems, CNN News reports. Such kindness and “benevolence” are key factors in whether people feel happy about their lives, the report states. Other things that make people happy include a healthy life, social support in times of trouble and communities that look after each other. Adding up these factors, the World Happiness Report ranks nations from most happy to least happy. This year’s happiest nations are mostly from northern areas of the continent of Europe. For the fifth year in a row, Finland is the world's happiest country, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden and Norway. The United States ranks 16th in this year’s survey, with Russia ranked 80th and Ukraine 98th. Studies have shown that being kind to others makes people happier. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone being kind to others. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling how people being kinder to each other would make your community happier.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. ‘Run Faster, Dad!’

There are two ways to set a world record. You can do something that others have done, but do it better. Or you can do something that no one has done before. A runner in the state of California chose the second approach, and he has been rewarded with a Guinness World Record. And what was his feat? He pushed his five quintuplet children in a stroller while competing in a 13-mile half-marathon race. Chad Kempel ran the half-marathon in the city of Oakland, California, and finished in 2 hours and 19 minutes while pushing his 4-year-old children ahead of him. The Guinness World Records organization had set a cut-off time of 2 hours 30 minutes to qualify for a world record. It wasn’t the first time the 40-year-old Kempel had raced with his kids. He previously had set Guinness World Records for running a 10-kilometer race and a full 26-mile marathon while pushing the five children. The kids — with a total weight of 240 pounds — gave him lots of support for the half-marathon. “They were saying, ‘Run faster, Dad!’” he told the local KIVI-TV station. Chad Kempel likes to run with his children as a family activity. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another activity that would be fun for families to do together. Use what you read to draw a cartoon or picture showing a family having fun doing this activity. Share with the class and talk about other activities you do for fun with your family.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.