For Grades 5-8 , week of July 22, 2019

1. Storm Benefit

When Tropical Storm Barry was bearing down on the city of New Orleans, Louisiana earlier this month, many organizations had to cancel their plans and activities. One of those was the national Delta Sigma Theta sorority organization, which was holding its national convention in the city for its 16,000 members. To avoid the danger of the storm, the organization that serves African American college women decided to end its convention early. And then it made a decision that would help storm victims. Delta Sigma Theta donated the 17,000 meals that would have been served on the canceled days to a local disaster relief organization. The meals of chicken, potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and cake were collected by the Second Harvest Food Bank and distributed to storm victims after the worst of the weather had passed. People often step up to help victims of storms, hurricanes or other natural disasters. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a natural disaster in the United States or another part of the world. With family or friends, brainstorm a way your community could help victims of this disaster. Write a short editorial outlining ways your community could help.

Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

2. Singing in the Dark

When it comes to live entertainment, New York City is the theater capital of America. But what do you do when the lights go out in the Broadway theater district just minutes before showtime? That happened this month when a Saturday-night blackout knocked out power for 73,000 customers, including the famous theaters on Broadway. Twenty-six shows had to be canceled due to the power outage, but that didn’t stop the casts of top Broadway musicals from doing what they do. They took to the streets to perform live for people waiting in line to get into the theaters. Singers from “Frozen,” “Rock of Ages,” “Hadestown” and other shows gave theater-goers a night to remember, even if they didn’t get to see complete shows. In addition to Broadway shows, Jennifer Lopez had to cancel her concert at Madison Square Garden just after she started. Entertainment stars and performers often do unusual or special things for their fans. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one entertainer doing something like this. Use what you read to write a public thank you letter to the entertainer, telling how their action was special to fans.

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. Business with a Purpose

Starting a business can be a lot of work. It can also bring a lot of reward. Two years ago, three brothers in the state of Maryland started a candle-making business because they wanted money to buy toys and video games. Today, Collin, Ryan and Austin Gill are doing so well they are making $5,000 a month in profits and are able to donate $500 a month to help the homeless. Collin, age 13, Ryan, 11 and Austin, 8, pledged from the start they would donate 10 percent of their profits to the homeless. But they never dreamed they’d become successful so quickly. Their business, called “Frères Branchiaux” (French for “Gill Brothers”), sells candles, soaps and scents in 36 stores and is working on a deal with the Macy’s department store chain, the Washington Post newspaper reports. They want to make the business a success for many years so they can help people who need it. “The community helps us, so we have to help back,” Collin said. “Giving back helps you and the people you’re giving back to.” Starting a business is not just a thing for adults any more. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a teen or pre-teen starting a business. Use what you read to write a paragraph telling how the business provides a service or product that customers want or need. Write a second paragraph analyzing whether you think the business will be successful. Finish by writing a paragraph describing a business you would like to start, and why.

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. ‘Superbug’ Spreaders

“Superbug” bacteria and diseases are a growing worry in the medical community, because they have developed the ability to resist drugs and antibiotics. Now researchers in the southern Pacific nation of Australia have discovered an unlikely carrier of superbugs: Australian seagulls. In a new study, researchers report that some Australian silver gulls are infected with a superbug that can cause serious infections in humans such as urinary tract problems and a dangerous condition known as sepsis. The research team raised concerns that the superbug could spread from the birds to livestock or humans because gulls routinely travel as much as 1,000 miles from their nests. The researchers speculate that the gulls picked up the superbug bacteria by scavenging and eating human garbage and food waste. Superbugs are a growing concern for medical experts. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one superbug and the risks it poses to humans. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, detailing the risks of this superbug and steps the medical community could take to deal with it.

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.

5. Purple Heart Returned

The Purple Heart medal is one of the highest honors given by the U.S. military. It is awarded to soldiers who are wounded or killed in battle and is a cherished keepsake for their families. In the state of Arizona, one family is celebrating the return of a World War II sailor’s Purple Heart after it was mistakenly donated to a Goodwill thrift store. A Goodwill employee spotted the prestigious medal while sorting through a box of housewares that had been donated. It was engraved with the name Nick D’Amelio Jr., a seaman second class in the U.S. Navy who died when his vessel the USS Little sank in the Solomon Islands in 1942. “The family of Seaman Nick D’Amelio Jr. are greatly indebted to the efforts of so many who have worked tirelessly to return this misplaced treasure to our family,” said great-nephew Doug Hanna. The U.S. military honors members in many ways for exceptional or heroic service. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about military personnel who have done something exceptional or heroic. With family or friends, discuss what would be an appropriate way to honor these personnel, either formally or informally. Write a summary of your conversation for future reference.

Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.