For Grades 5-8 , week of May 06, 2019

1. Huge ‘Avengers’ Prank

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology attracts some of the smartest students in the nation. It also, apparently, attracts some great pranksters. This month, to celebrate the release of the “Avengers: Endgame” movie, MIT students draped the school’s landmark Great Dome with a giant version of Captain America's red, white and blue shield. The oversized cloth shield went up on a Saturday night and was taken down Monday morning. Captain America is one of the superheroes featured in the “Avengers: Endgame” movie, which broke ticket records all over the world in its opening weekend. Other superheroes in the movie are Iron Man, the Hulk, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Spider-Man. The Great Dome building houses MIT’s Barker Engineering Library and the school’s admissions office. People often go to great lengths to call attention to events or causes they like. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about people doing unusual things to call attention to something. Use what you read to write a short editorial, giving your view on whether you think the effort was effective, or what might be a more effective approach.

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. Honor Your Teacher

The first full week in May is Teacher Appreciation Week, and communities across the nation are honoring their classroom leaders. Efforts include everything from small gifts, to donations of classroom supplies, to making improvements to teacher facilities at schools. In groups or on your own, find and closely read stories about different ways teachers are being honored this week. Then brainstorm an idea for a documentary movie to honor or support special teachers in your school. Write an outline for your film, including images you would use. Then write a summary of the opening scene. Explain who you would focus on, and why. Share ideas as a class.

Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

3. National Veggie Burger

Less than a month after introducing an all-vegetable burger in a test market, Burger King has announced it is taking the burger national. The so-called Impossible Whopper was such a success in St. Louis, Missouri that it will be introduced in more cities this summer and in restaurants nationwide by the end of the year. Developed for Burger King by a California company called Impossible Foods, the all-vegetable burger prompted customers from around the nation to call St. Louis Burger Kings to see if they would ship the burgers to other states. Other burger chains also have tried to get the all-veggie “burger” ingredients for their outlets. “The Impossible Burger feels, tastes and chews as close to a burger as I’ve seen,” a Burger King rival told The Washington Post. The Impossible Whopper is an example of a new business idea becoming successful. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another new idea being tried by a business. The idea could be a new product, new service or new way of doing things. Use what you read to write a consumer column, analyzing the idea and whether you think it will be successful. Discuss both the benefits and shortcomings of the idea.

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.

4. What a Road Trip!

America’s National Park Service is most famous for overseeing the nation’s 61 National Parks. But many other sites are also part of the National Park Service, including National Battlefields, Historical Parks, Memorials and Monuments. There are 419 sites in all, and this month a Washington, DC man completed a road trip in which he visited every single one. Mikah Meyer took three years to visit all the sites and is believed to be the first person to visit them all in one trip. He started at the Washington Memorial and ended at the Lincoln Memorial, both in Washington, DC. “I really got to know the American story,” said Meyer, 33. “More than just natural wonders, the Park Service sites tell our American story.” Sixty-one other people have visited every National Park Service site, though none of them did it on a single trip. Mikah Meyer carefully planned the trip that took him to all 419 National Park Service sites. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about three or more places you would like to visit. Use what you read to write out a plan for visiting these places. Write out what order you would visit the places, how you would travel and what you would want to see at each one. Draw a map of your trip.

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; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.

5. ‘Mamãe, polícia!’

Many people feel parrots make great pets, because they can be taught to talk. They may not make great drug lookouts, however. In the South American country of Brazil, a parrot taught to say “Mama, police!” failed to warn a man and a woman in time to stop a drug bust. Police arrived at the home of the man and woman after getting a tip they were dealing crack cocaine. When they entered the house, the lime-green parrot began squawking “Mamãe, polícia!” which means “Mama, police!” “He must have been trained for this,” one officer involved in the operation said later. The bird’s warning came too late, however, and the man and the woman were taken into custody. So was the parrot, who was later transferred to a zoo. Animals and birds can often be trained to do unusual things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories offering examples. Pick one and write a humorous poem, rap or rhyme detailing good and bad things that could happen because the animal/bird was trained this way. Share poems with the class.

Common Core State Standards: Demonstrating understanding of figurative language; applying knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts.