Get Adobe Flash player

For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 26, 2020

1. Feed the Polls

Election Day is just a week away, and millions of Americans are expected to turn out to vote in the race for president. Many will have to stand in long lines and miss meals while they wait to cast their ballots. The leader of the Zagat and Infatuation restaurant guides wants to help those hungry voters and has set up a non-profit program called Feed the Polls to do it. The program has been raising funds to hire food trucks to provide free food to voters in line, so that they will not lose their chance to vote. Other groups such as Migrant Kitchen in New York City and a nationwide program called Pizza to the Polls also are making plans to feed voters to help boost voter turnout, the Washington Post reports. “We’re trying to feed people and encourage them to vote, not affect the outcome of the election,” Infatuation founder Chris Stang said. “Regardless of who someone is voting for, anything that increases voting in this country is a good thing.” Many people and groups are working to make it easier to vote in this year’s presidential race. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the things people are doing. Use what you read to write an editorial outlining why such efforts are important and why it is important for as many people as possible to vote in the race for president.

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. Milestone Teacher

When Eric Hale was named Teacher of the Year for the state of Texas this month, he achieved a milestone never reached before. He is the first Black man to win the honor, though he says “I’m not the first to deserve it” in a state that has more than 360,000 teachers. Hale, 40, teaches first and second grade at an elementary school in the city of Dallas, and he draws on the difficulties he had as a child to support children in his classes who are living with poverty or other problems. He has bought food for families in need, found computers for students who don’t have them and even purchased Christmas presents for families who couldn’t afford them for their children. “I believe I was put on this Earth to advocate and fight for kids that don’t get fought for,” Hale said in an interview. “I know that some of the brightest minds come from the darkest places.” Teachers do many things beyond teaching to support students in their classes. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a teacher in your state or community who is doing this. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor telling how this teacher’s efforts could inspire other teachers to help their students in new ways.

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. Graffiti Clean-Up

Sometimes when people see a problem, they just have to step up and do something about it. That happened to a skateboarder in Flagstaff, Arizona this fall, and it fostered a partnership with the local police. Skateboarder Tony Peterson has been using the skate park known as the Basin since Flagstaff built it in 2005, and he enjoys the challenge of its steep walls and bowls. He doesn’t enjoy some of the graffiti vandals spray on it, however, and recently he felt it had gone too far. He stresses he’s not anti-graffiti and would welcome a mural at the park, but recent tagging featured vulgar images and curse words. He reached out to city departments to get a clean-up but had trouble connecting due to the coronavirus. Then he hooked up with Police Officer Roger Medrano, the Arizona Daily Sun reports. Medrano shared Peterson’s view that the vulgar graffiti had to go in a park where young children play. In short order Medrano was able to get a crew from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to clean up the graffiti. Now he and Peterson plan to be a presence in the park to make sure it doesn’t return. Individuals often take action to solve problems in communities. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a person doing this. Use what you read to write a public proclamation thanking this person for their service. Use the Internet to look up proclamations if you need to see how they are written. They often use the word “Whereas” to introduce reasons that the person is to be honored.

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.

4. Flying Comeback

When the coronavirus epidemic spread in the United States and other nations this spring, air travel was hit hard by lockdowns and travel restrictions. Now it is slowly coming back. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported last week that it had safety-screened more than a million passengers in one day for the first time since the middle of March. The milestone number is still far below pre-virus levels — TSA screened more than 2.6-million passengers in a day one year ago. But TSA and airline officials are encouraged that people are starting to fly again. The uptick comes a little over a month before Thanksgiving, the holiday that is the busiest travel time of the year. Many businesses are seeking to come back from shutdowns or restrictions caused by the coronavirus epidemic. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of the things businesses are doing. Use what you read to write a business column analyzing these efforts, which you think will be most successful and what challenges still remain.

Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

5. Fresh Air Learning

Fresh air is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It’s the reason restaurants have turned to outdoor dining and why schools are being encouraged to open windows or hold classes outside with proper social distancing. In countries on the continent of Europe, that may mean wearing extra clothing or coats when winter arrives. Nations in northern Europe are urging schools to continue keeping windows and doors open, even when the temperatures drop. Students are being asked to dress warmly and even bring blankets to wrap up in while in class. It’s not known how many American schools will adopt the European guidelines in colder weather, even though many held classes outside or in tents during the fall. One hundred years ago, when the nation was fighting the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 and 1919, many students were taught with windows open or in outside classes even in the winter months. Schools have had to make many changes to re-open after being shut for safety due to the coronavirus epidemic. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about changes being made in schools in your community or state. Use what you read to write a two-minute report for TV news on the biggest challenges the changes pose for students and teachers. Read your report aloud and time it to make sure it does not go over two minutes. Describe images you would use in your report, and why. Present your newscast to friends, classmates and family members.

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