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For Grades K-4 , week of Feb. 24, 2020

1. Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and communities across the nation are celebrating the achievements of African Americans. Those achievements are happening in all fields — and are influencing all parts of American life and culture. Search today’s newspaper to find African Americans influencing news and culture in different fields. See if you can find (1.) an African American politician, (2.) an African American athlete who led a team to victory, (3.) an African American woman who is a leader, (4.) a business owned by an African American, (5.) a TV show with an African American cast, (6.) an African American musician, and (7.) an African American newspaper writer or columnist. As a class, discuss these people and how they could inspire others by their achievements.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; engaging effectively in a range of collaborative discussions.

2. Off-Duty Heroes

It’s often said that police officers are never off duty. That was certainly true in Elizabethtown, Kentucky this month when two married officers having dinner on a “date night” jumped into action to stop a robbery. Detective Chase McKeown and Officer Nicole McKeown were off duty and enjoying a meal at a Raising Cane’s restaurant, when a masked man came in, pointed a gun at a cashier and demanded cash. The McKeowns, who have only been married six months, looked at each other and immediately took action. Pulling their weapons, they confronted the man, who dropped his gun and ran. The officers chased him for several blocks and took him into custody without incident. Police officers often help the community when they are not on duty patrolling the streets or solving crimes. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about officers being helpful when they are not on duty. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor thanking the officers for their efforts, and telling why that helps the community.

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.

3. Spring Training

Baseball’s spring training is under way and Major League teams are getting ready for the 2020 season. One of the most important things teams do in spring training is decide which players will make the team for the regular season. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read spring training stories about a team that interests you. Use what you read to write a paragraph or sports column about players hoping to make the team, and how likely it is that they will be successful.

Common Core State Standards: Citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

4. Giant Turtle

Turtles have been around for millions of years, and in ancient times they were much bigger than those alive today. A new discovery of fossils in South America, in fact, has identified what may be the biggest turtle that ever lived. The fossils discovered in the nations of Venezuela and Colombia were of a species that had a shell 10-feet long and weighed 2,500 pounds. On top of that, the males had horns for protection. The species was a freshwater turtle that lived 5- to 10-million years ago in swampy areas that are now deserts. It was 100 times larger than the largest turtle alive today — the big-headed Amazon River turtle. Discovery of a fossil jawbone indicates that this giant ate a wide range of fish, crocodiles, snakes and shellfish. Bite-marks on its shell indicate it also was hunted by even bigger creatures. Fossil discoveries often show that the places ancient creatures lived millions of years ago were very different from those areas today. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read about a discovery that shows an area of the Earth that has changed a great deal. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling how that change led to different wildlife species living in the area.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.

5. Obama Elementary

Michelle Obama has been gone from the White House for three years, but she remains one of the most popular First Ladies ever. She is so popular that an elementary school in the state of California is being renamed in her honor. In a unanimous vote, the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board in northern California decided to change the name of Wilson Elementary School to Michelle Obama Elementary School. Wilson Elementary is being rebuilt so it will have a new facility as well as a new name. “We have the opportunity to have a beautiful new school named after a person who really represents our diversity and values,” Principal Claudia Velez told CNN News. Wilson is the second school in California to be named for the former First Lady. A school in the city of Los Angeles already had been named for her. Communities, colleges and other institutions often honor people by naming buildings after them. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone you think could be honored this way. Use what you read to write a proposal to name a building for this person. Finish by researching people for whom buildings in your community are named. Pick one and report to the class what he/she did to deserve to be honored.

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