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For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 24, 2022

1. Stopping Salt Water

The Mississippi River is the second longest in the United States, and drains water from entire center of the country. In normal times, that creates a great flow of water where the river meets the sea at the Gulf of Mexico in the state of Louisiana. This year, however, dry weather and droughts have dramatically reduced the water flowing in the Mississippi, and that has created a problem in Louisiana. There is not enough fresh water flowing south on the river to keep the salt water of the Gulf from flowing north, CNN News reports. That could endanger sources of drinking water, if the salt water got into them. To keep the salt water out, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun construction of a 1,500-foot-wide underwater barrier levee. The barrier, called a “sill,” will be 40 to 50 feet high underwater in a location where the water is around 90 feet deep. The sill will be built at the bottom of the river, because salt water is denser than fresh water and flows underneath fresh water when the two types meet. The sill is designed to be temporary until rainfall restores the flow of the Mississippi to normal levels. Areas where the salt water of oceans meets the fresh water of rivers are called “estuaries.” Communities often have to make adjustments to the natural environment to deal with dangerous or damaging conditions. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one project doing this. Use what you read to write an editorial explaining the project and outlining its benefits and risks. Give your editorial a headline that would make people want to read it.

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. Dad Discipline

It’s not unusual for a father to have to discipline his son for breaking the rules. It IS unusual if both are in the National Football League. When Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr. was fined $5,215 this month for “leg whipping” an opponent, he got a letter from the league notifying him of his punishment. The letter was from his father, Jon Runyan Sr., the NFL’s vice president of policy and rules administration and a former pro lineman himself. In the letter, the senior Runyan warned his son that “further offenses will result in an escalation of disciplinary action, up to and including suspension.” Leg whipping is an illegal move in which a player swings his leg horizontally against an opponent’s legs or knees in an effort to trip the opponent, risking injury to the victim. “My dad and I always joked about this happening, but I never thought my style of play would ever warrant what he deemed to be unnecessary roughness, but it happened,” the younger Runyan told ESPN Sports. “I thought since I left for college, I wouldn't have to deal with him punishing me any more, but I was wrong about that.” The younger Runyan has appealed the fine. Like sports leagues, parents often set rules for their children. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different kinds of rules parents have set for their children. Use what you read to write a personal column giving your opinion about the rules you have read about, which you think are good rules and which are not-so-good. Share with the class and discuss rules your parents have set for you and whether you think they are appropriate.

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

3. Women in Science

All over the world, STEM education programs are encouraging girls to get into the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. A physicist in the European nation of England thoroughly supports that — but wants girls to know more about women who have already made contributions to science. Jess Wade, 33, has made it her personal mission to add biographies of women and minority scientists to the Wikipedia online encyclopedia. So far, she’s written 1,750 Wikipedia biographies for women scientists who haven’t gotten their due — and she’s still going, the Washington Post newspaper reports. She keeps adding new biographies and is training others to also contribute to Wikipedia, a site used by an estimated 2 billion people a month to find information about individuals, ideas and topics. “Wikipedia is a really powerful way to give credit to people who, for a long time, have been written out of history,” Wade said. “Not only do we not have enough women in science, but we aren’t doing enough to celebrate the ones we have.” More and more women are excelling in scientific careers and fields. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one woman who is excelling and succeeding. Use what you read to write a letter to a younger girl or boy, telling what the younger student could learn from the life and success of the scientist you chose.

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.

4. Everyday Hero

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and most don’t wear flashy capes and costumes like those seen in the movies. In a small city in the state of Georgia, a hero turned out to be the local mayor, who saved a family from a speeding train while on his way to work. Mayor Eddie Daniels, who also works at a local factory, was heading to his 4 a.m. shift earlier this month when he came upon an SUV stuck on railroad tracks next to a local train crossing. As he passed, the woman driving the car urgently honked the horn and screamed for help, the Washington Post newspaper reported. Daniels parked and went to assist her, just as the safety arms at the crossing dropped and a train whistle sounded. The driver’s door was jammed, but Daniels managed to yank it free and pull the woman from the car. Then he went back to pull her children out of the back seat. After freeing a year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy, he rushed to rescue the third, a 6-year old boy. Just as he grabbed the boy’s arm, the train hit the car, throwing Daniels and the boy backwards to safety. Daniels broke his ankle, and sustained a gash on his head and bruises on his back. State police called him a hero, saying if he hadn’t acted the whole family would have died. “I don’t feel like a hero,” Daniels said later. “I just felt that I had to do what I had to do.” People often do spur-of-the-moment things to help people in emergencies. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about someone who has done this. Use what you read to write a public proclamation thanking this person on behalf of the community. Look up proclamations online to see how they are written. They often use the word “Whereas” to introduce each reason the person is being honored. Read your proclamation aloud for the class — with good expression!

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. Celebrity Costumes

Halloween is a week away, and many people are talking about what they should choose as costumes. Should they be a superhero, sports star or character from a book or movie? How about a celebrity, musician or even a politician? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a famous person whom people might like to dress up as for Halloween. Write a paragraph explaining why people would want to dress as this person, and whether their costume would be serious or funny. Finish by drawing a picture of a costume you will be wearing (or want to wear) for Halloween. Share it with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.