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For Grades 5-8 , week of Mar. 14, 2022

1. Airbnb Support

Airbnbs give travelers places to stay in private homes if they do not want a room in a hotel. They also have become a way to send support to Ukrainian homeowners who are under siege from Russian troops. Because airbnbs are generally run by private property owners, fees go directly to them from online ordering services. Since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, thousands of people around the world are booking stays at Ukrainian homes with no intention of visiting. They are using these online airbnb bookings as a fast way to get money to individual Ukrainians who desperately need food, medicine, clothing and other necessities, the Washington Post newspaper reports. The airbnb payments go through faster than donations made to large relief agencies, which often move more slowly deciding how to use the money. “I felt like it was important for me to do something,” one donor said. Airbnbs are one way people around the world are helping Ukrainians or Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about ways people in the United States can help victims of the war in Ukraine. Use what you read to write an editorial encouraging your school or community to help Ukraine in one of these ways.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. An Ancient Calendar?

The Stonehenge monument in the European nation of England is one of the most famous — and mysterious — in the world. The circular rock formation was built 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, and scientists and historians have been trying for years to figure what it was used for. Some have suggested it was built for religious purposes, while others have said it was a gathering place for healing or other ceremonies. Many have focused on the fact that the central axis line of the monument lines up with the sunrise at midsummer and sunset at midwinter on the longest and shortest days of the year. Now a new study has suggested that the structure of Stonehenge had a more practical purpose as a time-keeping system, CNN News reports. Archaeology professor Timothy Darvill of Bournemouth University notes in the study that Stonehenge may have served as a solar calendar due to the placement of the stones. Of particular note, he wrote, is a circle of large stones that support 30 horizontal stones on top. These could represent the days in a month, he writes, with special stones in the circle marking the start of three 10-day weeks, according to the study. A solar calendar marks time by the seasonal position of the sun in the Earth’s sky. The new study of Stonehenge is offering new ideas about one of the Earth’s most mysterious monuments. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about discoveries or new ideas connected to another ancient monument. Use what you read to write a paragraph outlining how new discoveries, ideas or approaches can get people to think about ancient monuments or landmarks in new ways.

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.

3. Baseball Is Back!

It came down to the wire, but the players and owners of Major League Baseball reached an agreement last week that will ensure a full 162-game regular season this summer and an expanded playoff format that will include 12 teams in each league for the first time. Voluntary spring training started last weekend, and opening day was scheduled for April 7. Other changes in the agreement include the National League joining the American League in the use of designated hitters to hit for pitchers, an increase in minimum salaries and improved benefits for former players. The agreement between players and owners ended a three-month “lockout” that was the longest baseball work stoppage since the players went on strike 28 years ago during the 1994 season. With the agreement between players and owners, baseball fans are getting excited again about their favorite teams. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a team that interests you in some way. Use what you read to write a sports column outlining the biggest challenges or uncertainties facing that team before the start of the season April 7.

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. B-a-a-a-a-d Was Good

Sometimes law enforcement officers need help to solve crimes or catch suspects. In the state of Virginia recently one helper was really b-a-a-a-a-d — so b-a-a-a-a-d she was good. The helper was a goat named Gracie and her bleating helped deputies of the Henry County Sheriff’s Office flush out a suspect they were chasing who had hidden in some woods. Gracie came to the aid of the deputies when they were pursuing a suspect on foot in a domestic assault case, Fox News reported. One of the deputies followed the suspect into a field, where the curious Gracie joined the chase. When the suspect fled into nearby woods, Gracie followed and let deputies know from her bleating where the suspect was hiding. The man was taken into custody, and Gracie was returned to her owner. “Sometimes help comes in all shapes and sizes!!” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook. Animals often do unusual things to help people. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an animal doing this. Use what you read to write a paragraph detailing how the animal helped and how the person being helped felt about it.

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. Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, and from politics to sports to science and medicine women are breaking new ground and achieving new things. Just last week Vice President Kamala Harris was making history by representing the United States in European discussions on how to support the nation of Ukraine — a first because she is the first African American woman to become vice president. Back home, Dr. Rochelle Walensky was in the news monitoring the fight against the coronavirus as director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the White House, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was in the spotlight every day as spokesperson for President Biden. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about a woman who is making history in her field. Use what you read to write a personal or political column about why the woman’s achievements are significant and what challenges or obstacles she had to overcome to be successful.

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.