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For Grades 5-8 , week of June 13, 2022

1. Kindness Counts

It’s often said that acts of kindness can have a huge impact on people who receive them. In the state of Colorado, a 12-year-old sixth grader found that out first-hand, after being disappointed that few of his classmates would sign his yearbook. Brody Ridder has had trouble fitting in at the Academy of Charter Schools in the city of Westminster. His classmates aren’t interested in activities he likes such as chess and the game of fencing. And he’s sometimes been bullied because he’s skinny and his “ears stick out.” So when classmates wouldn’t sign his yearbook, he signed it himself. “Hope you make some more friends,” he wrote and signed it “Brody Ridder.” When his mom saw what he had written, she was heartbroken that Brody was feeling so alone. So she posted his message on a Facebook page for parents. It soon was circulating online, and made its way to three high school juniors at the Academy. They rounded up friends and made it their job to sign Brody’s yearbook. In the end, more than 100 upperclassmen signed, and even some of his own classmates asked to sign after the older students got involved. They filled the pages with messages that told him “you are so loved,” “don't listen to kids who tell you different” and “you're worth it and you matter.” Some even left their phone numbers so that Brody could reach out to them. “This is the best day ever,” Brody told his mom. Acts of kindness often can help people get through difficult situations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such kindness and the effect it had. Use what you read to write an editorial urging people to plan acts of kindness that could help others or make them feel better. As a class, discuss kind things you could do for others in your school or neighborhood.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

2. Record Sports Price

The Denver Broncos haven’t had a winning season in five years, but with eight Super Bowl appearances — and three championships — they are considered one of the top teams in the National Football League. Now they are about to become the most valuable team in the NFL — and the most valuable in all of sports. The son of the founder of Walmart stores and other family members have signed a deal to buy the Broncos for a record $4.65-billion. That is more than double the top price ever paid for an NFL team ($2.275-billion for the Carolina Panthers four years ago) and nearly double the top price ever paid for any sports team ($2.475-billion paid for the baseball’s New York Mets in 2020.) The buyers’ group is led by Rob Walton, the oldest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton. If the sale is approved by the NFL, Walton will become the league’s wealthiest owner, with a net worth estimated at $65-billion. He would be the second-wealthiest owner in all of sports, behind Los Angeles Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, whose worth is estimated at about $89-billion. Though the Broncos have not had success in recent years, they have made the playoffs 22 times in their history and won Super Bowls in 1997, 1998 and 2015. In their Super Bowl wins, they were led by Hall of Fame quarterbacks John Elway and Peyton Manning. Sports teams bring in a lot of revenue for their owners, and they bring in a lot of revenue for the cities and communities where they are located. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the economic impact sports teams have on their communities. Pick one team and brainstorm an idea for a short documentary film detailing the different ways the team provides revenue, jobs and economic benefits for its community or city. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. Rich Wrecks

Shipwrecks can teach people a great deal about the past. This spring, in the South American nation of Colombia, scientists and historians are learning about seafaring life centuries ago thanks to the discovery of two shipwrecks — and new video images of a wreck that is one of the richest in history. The new wrecks were discovered by the Colombian navy using a high-tech remotely operated vehicle sent to a depth of some 3,100 feet off the country’s northern coastline along the Caribbean Sea. The newly discovered wrecks were near the wreck of the Spanish galleon “San José,” which sank more than 300 years ago during a war involving the European nations of Spain and England for control of the area, the Washington Post newspaper reported. The “San José” is believed to contain one of the most valuable treasures ever lost at sea — a cargo of gold, silver, emeralds, jewels and other expensive items taken from Spain’s colonial empire that could be worth more than $17-billion today. The newly discovered shipwrecks are believed to have sunk 100 years after the “San José” in the period shortly after Colombia’s war for independence from Spain. Shipwrecks can teach scientists and historians a great deal about the past. They also can spark imagination. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a shipwreck discovery. Use what you read to write a short creative story telling what the last day of the ship’s voyage might have been like.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

4. Red Wolf Success

In an effort to help endangered species, zoos and other wildlife organizations try to breed them in captivity so that they don’t become extinct. This spring a zoo in the state of Rhode Island achieved a significant milestone in captive breeding when it announced the birth of a critically endangered red wolf pup. Red wolves once roamed throughout the southeastern United States but were declared extinct in the wild in 1980, CNN News reported. The wild red wolves were captured at that time and brought to zoos for captive breeding. The Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island is an active participant in the wolf breeding program. The parents of the new pup were a 6-year-old female at the zoo named Brave and a 7-year-old male named Diego. The pup was the first successful birth for Brave, and the first red wolf pup born at the zoo since 2005. Named for their red-tinged fur, red wolves are smaller than their better-known cousins the gray wolf and timber wolf, but larger than coyotes. Adults can measure up to four feet in length and weigh up to 80 pounds. Only 15 to 20 red wolves remain in the wild, and all are in the state of North Carolina. Scientists and wildlife organizations do many things to help endangered or threatened wild animals. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about efforts to help one such species. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, detailing how the effort seeks to help the animal 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.

5. Ocean Canyon Sanctuary

On land or under the sea, canyons are among the most spectacular natural features on Earth. Land canyons like the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon in the American West attract millions of tourists a year. Ocean canyons like the Hudson Canyon of America’s East Coast attract millions of fish, whales and other sea creatures seeking food and shelter. This month, President Biden took steps to protect the Hudson Canyon, which was formed by ancient glaciers about 100 miles off the coast of New York City. The President announced that he intends to designate the area a new national marine sanctuary, which would give it some of the same protections afforded to national parks, the Washington Post newspaper reported. The move would protect an area nearly 7½ miles wide, more than 100 miles long and more than 2 miles deep in some places — an area similar in scale to the Grand Canyon in the state of Arizona. The Hudson Canyon is the largest known ocean canyon off the East Coast of the United States and home to hundreds of species, including sperm whales, sea turtles, dolphins, corals, sharks and more than 200 species of fish. Designating it a national marine sanctuary would protect a key ocean habitat from development and pollution. State and national governments often pass laws to protect natural areas. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one such effort. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper detailing how protecting the area will have positive effects for wildlife, habitats and people, and whether there are negative impacts as well.

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.