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For Grades 5-8 , week of Dec. 17, 2018

1. Holiday Movies

The holiday movie season is one of the biggest of the year for moviemakers. It’s when they bring out their most exciting and talked about films to attract students who are off from school and families spending time together. As a class, discuss movies that are getting a lot attention this month. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the biggest movies being released this holiday season. Pick one you have seen or would like to see and write a “movie review” analyzing why people would want to see it and what qualities it has that make it a good movie for this time of year.

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.

2. New Football League

The National Football League is the most popular professional sports league in America. But a group of former NFL stars and other investors are betting there is a market for even more pro football. Former NFL players Ricky Williams, Terrell Owens, Simeon Rice, Jeff Garcia and others have announced that they are helping found a new league called the Freedom Football League. The league will play its games in the spring and will have teams in 10 cities to start. To illustrate the “freedom” in its name, the founders said the new league will encourage players to speak out on social issues and create a model in which players and even fans will share in revenue. “We talked about the disparity in income,” Williams said in an interview with ESPN. “In the NFL … and most professional leagues, the owners are making all the money.” Professional sports leagues are always looking to attract new fans. In the newspaper or online, closely read stories about the new Freedom Football League or another pro league. Use what you read to write a sports column analyzing what the league could do to attract more fans. Share columns as a class and discuss.

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

3. Doggie DNA

Dogs are popular pets, but they’re not very popular when their owners don’t clean up after them. Every community looks for ways to get dog owners to be more considerate, but when that fails harsher measures may be needed. In the city of Chicago, Illinois, an apartment building is turning to DNA science to track down owners who don’t clean up after their dogs. To identify repeat offenders, the Alta Roosevelt apartment building is requiring that all dog owners submit a cheek swab from their pet for DNA testing. The genetic DNA data will then be used to match dogs with messes that have been left behind in public spaces used by dog walkers. Residents of the apartment building are split on whether DNA testing is invasive or a good idea to solve a problem once and for all. DNA science is being used in new ways in fields ranging from medicine to crime-fighting. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a new use of DNA science. Prepare a short oral report describing how DNA science is being used in a new way and how that is an advance in its field.

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

4. What a Wedding!

It’s often said that when you’re rich, money doesn’t matter. It certainly didn’t in the Asian nation of India last week, when the daughter of the country’s richest man got married. Expensive, exclusive events stretched out over five days and cost upwards of $15-million, according to published reports. At times it seemed like a real-life version of the hit movie “Crazy Rich Asians” — especially when superstar Beyonce took the stage to perform a private concert for 2,000 guests. The bride, 27-year-old Isha Ambani, is the daughter of Mukesh Ambani, the head of a multinational company who is worth more than $41-billion, according to Forbes magazine. The groom, 33-year-old Anand Piramal, is also heir to a hugely wealthy business empire. The wedding itself took place at the home of the bride’s father, a luxury residence that rises 27 stories above the city of Mumbai. The wedding of Isha Ambani attracted great attention across India. It also drew criticism for the amount of money spent when so many live in poverty in the Asian nation. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about poverty in India. Use what you read to write an editorial, offering suggestions on what problems could be addressed if $15-million were made available for them.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

5. Cluck, Cluck, Cluck

When future archaeologists study our world for fossils, one kind might define our era more than any other. All over the world, scientists will be poring through piles of chicken bones left behind by today’s humans, according to a new study. “Future humans may call us the ‘Chicken People,’” researchers say in the title of the just released study. The reason for that is that domestically raised chickens outnumber all other birds on Earth and are eaten by people in nearly every culture, the researchers say. Because their bones often end up in dumps or landfills, domestic chickens may well become the “defining fossil” of our era, the researchers said — the one that declares “Humans were here!” Scientists study fossils and other artifacts to learn more about life on Earth in the past. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a fossil or archaeological discovery. Use what you read to write a paragraph or short paper telling why the discovery is important and what it has added to our knowledge of the past.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.