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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Jan. 30, 2012

1. Changing It Up

If you listened to a song with just one note, it would bore you to tears. The same holds true for writing. Good writers mix up the type of sentences they use. Mitch Albom, a columnist for the Detroit Free Press newspaper, is a master at this. For example, he opens a column with “In the end, the defense broke down like a bayou jalopy, and one Saints receiver was so open, he had time to sprinkle sugar on his beignets before catching a bomb and scooting in for the touchdown.” He followed it with, “Blood? There was blood.” Search your newspaper for columnists. Find two or three columns that interest you and cut them out. Using two highlighters, pick out and mark simple and more complex sentences. Put a star next to the ones that you think are most memorable or effective.

Core/National Standards: Choosing among simple, compound, complex and compound-complex sentences

2. Ouch!

The Super Bowl is being played on Sunday, and football experts are talking about how player injuries could affect its outcome. Injuries and medicine make news in other ways every day. Find an example in the newspaper. Write a short paragraph stating how important this news is, why and whom it will affect most.

Core/National Standard: Responding to a variety of oral, visual, written and electronic texts by making connections to students' personal lives and the lives of others.

3. Women and the Movies

Steven Spielberg. Martin Scorsese. George Clooney. These are some of Hollywood’s most famous movie directors, and they are all men. Despite the inroads women have made in the past — fighting for the right to vote, the right for equal wages, getting jobs in fields that have been dominated by men — the movie industry is one area where women directors haven’t made much progress. Only one woman has won an Academy Award for Best Director in the 84-year history of the Oscars — Kathryn Bigelow, for the Iraq War film “The Hurt Locker” in 2009. This year The Sundance Institute and the Women in Film group got together to track female filmmakers who showed their work at the recent Sundance Film Festival. According to an Associated Press article, Cathy Shulman, president of Women in Film, said she hopes they can track the data and do something to change the trend. Find a newspaper story about a woman who is successful in her field. Research the role of women in that specific career and write a report summarizing your findings.

Core/National Standard: Analyzing how the feminist movements and social conditions have affected the lives of women.

4. Technology Today

New inventions in technology are advancing science to new heights. Before advanced computer technology, there was no way to be able to map out the human genome sequence of genes that determine what makes each person unique. That was finally achieved in 2009, and now Life Technologies Corp. has developed a machine that can sequence a person’s entire genome in one day for a fee of $1,000, according to the Associated Press. Up to now, it has taken a great deal of time and money to sequence a person’s genetic makeup, and there is a backlog of cases waiting. This new technology will be extremely helpful to doctors in treating patients and to law enforcement officers who need to identify crime victims. Find newspaper articles about new technology advances. Or find examples online. As a class, put together a chart listing the names of the technologies, who developed them, what they do and how they help people.

Core/National Standards: Understanding that science advances with the introduction of new technologies and solving technological problems often results in new scientific knowledge.

5. It’s Our News

Newspapers record what is going on in your community. Some newspapers are big, and some are small. Most newspapers have websites where people can read the stories that have run in the actual paper. There is a lot going on in your school. Have your class start an online newspaper to share with other students. Using the real newspaper as an example, figure out what sections you would include in your online newspaper, the types of stories you would write and pictures and graphics you would include. Contact your school district to see if there are web pages available on the district’s website to post and publish stories online. To practice, team up to write and edit stories for your online newspaper.

Core/National Standards: Developing and strengthening writing by planning, revising, editing, rewriting and publishing