For Grades 5-8 , week of June 27, 2022

1. Juneteenth Museum

Juneteenth is now a national holiday, marking the day Black slaves in the state of Texas learned they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln. To accompany the June 19 holiday, a National Juneteenth Museum is being created in Forth Worth, Texas to tell how slaves in the state didn’t find out they had been freed until two-and-one-half years after the Proclamation — and why. The $70-million project will create a 50,000-square-foot museum to explore the events surrounding June 19, 1865, when Union Army General Gordon Granger issued General Order Number 3, telling both Black and White people of the state that — in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation — “all slaves are free.” As a Confederate state in the Civil War, Texas had refused to inform the slaves and citizens of the Proclamation. In addition to the museum, the development will include a business center to promote Black entrepreneurship, a food hall featuring culturally Black cuisine, a flexible performance space and a theater, the New York Times reported. Construction is expected to start by the end of this year with an opening scheduled in time for the Juneteenth holiday in 2024. Supporters of the Juneteenth holiday worked for years to get it recognized as a national observance. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about another national or state effort that took years to achieve a goal. Use what you read to write an editorial detailing what others could learn from the effort about perseverance, determination and strategy.

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. Ancient City Revealed

All over the world, droughts and lack of rain are causing lakes and rivers to dry up and shrink to dangerously low levels. The loss of water has endangered plants, wildlife and the lives of people. It also has revealed secrets of the way people lived in the past. In the Middle East nation of Iraq, a severe drought caused the level of the famous Tigris River to drop so far it revealed an ancient city that existed 3,400 years ago. The city in the northern part of the country is believed to be the city of Zakhiku, which was a key part of the Mittani Empire that reigned from 1550 to 1350 BCE, CNN News reported. It had been submerged under water since the 1980s, when the Iraqi government built the Mosul Dam on the river. Not much is known about the Mittani civilization, but scientists hope the discovery of more than 100 clay tablets covered with cuneiform writing will provide new information on the empire and its people. The Tigris River and the nearby Euphrates River formed the boundaries of ancient Mesopotamia, which is of often referred to as “the cradle of civilization” in the Middle East for the cities built by the Sumerian people 5,500 years ago. Heat, droughts and lack of rain are having dramatic effects on lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. In the newspaper or online, find and read stories about some of these effects. Use what you read to write an environmental column detailing what scientists are learning from these changes, both positive and negative.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing.

3. Record Swimmer

Katie Ledecky is one of the greatest swimmers in the world. And this month the 25-year-old American added to her record of greatness. When she won the 1,500-meter freestyle race at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, she captured her 17th world title to break her own record for world swimming championships. Ledecky’s time of 15:30.15 was nearly 10 seconds slower than her world record in the event, but still more than eight seconds faster than any other woman has ever swum it, CNN News reported. Ledecky owns the 13 fastest times ever in the 1,500 and finished nearly 15 seconds ahead of the competition in Budapest. The 6-foot, 160-pound swimmer has represented the United States in three Olympic Games, winning six individual gold medals, one team gold and three silvers. Record-breaking athletes train vigorously for years to achieve greatness. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one athlete who has done this. Use what you read to create a multi-media presentation detailing the approach this athlete has taken to training. Share with family, friends or classmates.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

4. BTS Takes a Break

The BTS band is a supergroup in the world of K-pop music, attracting millions of fans and followers. So it’s not surprising that fans are upset that BTS has announced it is taking a break from performing together so that band members can pursue individual careers and projects. BTS said it was pausing for an indefinite period while members pursue solo projects, recharge and rethink how they could go forward as a group act. They also may be pausing to fulfill military duty that is required of all young men in their native country of South Korea. At least one member of the group, 29-year old Jin, is expected to enlist this year unless South Korea passes a law exempting K-pop stars from military service. BTS, which has been active since 2013, took the top prize at the American Music Awards last year, and in 2019, was the first group since the Beatles in the 1960s to have three Number 1 hits in a year on Billboard’s Top 200. The announcement by BTS that it is taking a break from performing as a group left many of its fans unhappy. What music star or group would you miss most if they announced they were taking a break from performing? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about this group or performer. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend detailing what you like about this performer and the things you would miss if the group or individual gave up music for a while.

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.

5. Electric Vans

In an effort to reduce air pollution and global warming, more and more companies are turning to electric vehicles that don’t burn fossil fuels like gasoline. In a significant step in that direction, the FedEx delivery company has added 150 new electric vans to its fleet. The vans, built by the BrightDrop subsidiary of the General Motors auto company, are the first significant delivery under a contract to supply FedEx with 2,500 electric vans, CNN News reports. Negotiations are under way for BrightDrop to make 20,000 additional vans for FedEx. Electric vans are getting a lot of attention because delivery companies are being pressured to reduce the number vehicles they use that burn fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel. Such fuels produce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that warm the atmosphere. FedEx has announced a commitment to cut greenhouse emissions by becoming “carbon neutral” in its operations by 2040. Many companies are taking steps to reduce their “carbon footprint” by burning fewer fossil fuels that create greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about one company that is doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling how this company’s actions could be a model for other companies.

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