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For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 23, 2023

1. Heroic Surgery

In times of war, soldiers, doctors and even private citizens often perform heroic acts. The Ukrainian war is no exception, and this month doctors performed a surgery that was heroic by any standard. A Ukrainian military medical team successfully operated on a soldier to remove a grenade that could have exploded at any minute. The grenade was lodged in the soldier’s chest and likely was fired by Russian forces using a powerful grenade launcher, CNN News reported. Ukrainian officials did not say where the surgery took place, noting only that it was performed by “one of the most experienced surgeons of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” It had to be performed with limited use of electrical devices for fear of exploding the grenade. The difficult surgery was a success, and the wounded soldier was transported to another facility for “further rehabilitation and recovery,” officials said. People often make news by doing heroic things to help others. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who has done this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor detailing what the person did, why it was heroic and how it could be a role model for others in the community.

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.

2. Poetry for the People

A famous poet once said that prose can be defined as “words in their best order,” while poetry has “the BEST words in the best order.” In the city of San Francisco, California, residents are getting to enjoy some of the best words of local poets — and they have a park ranger to thank. Ranger Amanda Barrows has done this by placing a “poetry nightstand” in parks around San Francisco and urging people to “take a poem, leave a poem.” Her project began as a challenge to “bring poetry into the community” as part of a “Poetry for the People” class she was taking at a local college. After struggling for an idea, Barrows decided to use an old bedroom nightstand to share poetry the way Little Free Libraries share books, the Washington Post newspaper reported. She put paper and pens in a drawer for people to use and included a box where people could leave their completed poems. In its first month the nightstand traveled to three different parks and collected more than 100 poems. Some were written by children and some captured the spirt of the parks themselves. One park-goer wrote beautifully that “The wind graces this park / Like a breezy whisper / as sounds of longing / echo from the nearby piano.” Poems can be inspired by anything people encounter in their world. In the newspaper or online, find and study a story, photo, ad or comment that interests or inspires you. Use what you read to write a short poem expressing your feelings about your choice, using your BEST words as verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Give your poem a creative title and read it aloud to family, friends or your class.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts; reading prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate and expression on successive readings.

3. A New Plastics Ban

Plastics pollution is one of the biggest problems facing the nations of the Earth. It litters landscapes, clogs waterways, endangers wildlife, and overburdens landfills in cities and towns. In an effort to combat plastics pollution, one of the leading nations on the continent of Europe is taking a dramatic step. Starting in October, the United Kingdom will ban the use of single-use plastic plates, trays, cutlery, cups and food containers and require businesses and other institutions to replace them with biodegradable items that will break down naturally, CNN News reports. The United Kingdom has already banned single-use plastic items like straws and stirrers, but new rules will “go further and faster to reduce, reuse and recycle more of our resources,” a spokesperson said. According to government statistics, 1.1-billion single-use plates and 4.25-billion pieces of single-use cutlery are used each year, equal to about 20 plates and 75 pieces of cutlery per person. Only 10 percent of this plastic ends up recycled. Many communities and nations are looking for ways to reduce plastics pollution and the use of plastic items. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different efforts. Use what you read to write a short editorial commenting on approaches you think would be the most effective.

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.

4. Viva Magenta!

Do you have favorite colors? The Pantone color-science company does, and every year it picks a “Color of the Year” that it thinks will be popular or influential in products, fashion, design and home decorating. This year’s color has been announced, and it’s a warm, cheerful shade of red called Viva Magenta. The color, which can be viewed here, is “a shade rooted in nature descending from the red family,” Pantone declared. It is designed to brighten rooms, lift moods and “bring energy and interest” to graphic and home designs. Viva Magenta is a warm and happy color that “will transform any room into a powerful and energetic environment,” said one California designer. Founded in the 1950s, the Pantone company scientifically created one of the world’s most extensive color-matching systems for products, printing and design. If you were going to choose a Color of the Year, what would it be? In the newspaper or online, find and study a photo featuring a color you like. Give your color a name and write a paragraph describing how it would make you feel if used for clothes, products or home decorating. Compare choices as a class and discuss.

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

5. Up a Tree

It’s not unusual for cats to get stuck in trees after they’ve climbed up and can’t get down. But a fire department in the state of Idaho had a different kind of rescue when called this month. A DOG had gotten stuck in a tree after racing up after a squirrel. The tree was not that tall, and it had branches near the ground so that the dog named Izzy could get a foothold on its slanted trunk. But when Izzy followed the squirrel higher and higher, he soon realized he had gotten himself into a pickle of a situation. He had no idea how to get down. “Perhaps, he will not be so persistent, next time, in chasing squirrels,” wrote the Caldwell Fire Department on its Facebook page. Worst of all, Izzy’s owner said he was “never even close” to catching the squirrel. Funny, unusual or odd events often make news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about such an event. Use what you read to draw a cartoon or comic strip showing the event and how people reacted to it.

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